Wales

By abbieredmon

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We went to Wales to climb in Snowdonia.

Our campsite for the week was at the north end of Llyn Gwynant (“llyn” meaning “lake”), and it was a pretty scenic spot, if overrun by gnats whenever there wasn’t a strong enough breeze.

It's a HUGE campsite -- it wasn't crowded at all for most of the week, but on Friday, people started showing up in hoards.

During the time we were there, several different "D of E" groups of kids came through. In the U.K., high school-aged kids can complete something called Duke of Edinburgh, which means they camp and walk around in the countryside for 4 or 5 days [hopefully] learning some skills and learning to appreciate the outdoors. Then they get a medal and a certificate or something, supposedly presented by a member of the royal family.

Anyway, some of the views around the lake were really pretty. I liked our chosen campsite.

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We climbed in a few different spots during the week.

First was a long multi-pitch route with a tedious 3-mile walk-in near Carnedd Llewelyn, north of the A5.

One bright spot during the hike in was the BRAND-NEW lamb baa-aa-a-ing loudly for its mother by the side of the trail at one point. It was adorable. And mama sheep answered back dutifully until the pair found each other in the tall grass.

We had AWESOME weather for the day -- the best of the entire week. Sunshine, warmth, dare I say even... heat?

The climb was nice -- not too difficult, but varied enough to be interesting for the 5-6 pitches it took to climb it.

After we reached the top, a pair of sheep wandered by, and we followed them toward the descent trail until they wandered off. The scramble down from this one was horrible; I’m convinced we veered off the actual descent trail at some stage. It was steep scree and very little terra firma. Gnats everywhere.

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The next day, we climbed another multi-pitch route in the Devil’s Kitchen, on the Idwal Slabs, not getting started until about 5 p.m. because of rain earlier in the day.

The climb was pretty good after what I thought was a tough start off the ground. I also slid down the mountain a couple of yards on one section between two cracks, which was scary. Otherwise, I liked this climb. It drizzled a tiny amount, off and on, while we were on the rock, but nothing serious.

We got back to the car just after 10 p.m. — which sounds insane, but it stays light SO late in the U.K. this time of year, it seemed fairly reasonable at the time.

It also meant we got to enjoy a pretty colorful sunset from high on the mountain. I liked the view from this climb a lot (the walk in was nice, too).

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Today gave us some shit weather, but for some unknown reason, we decided to climb up Crib Goch and over to Snowdon’s summit anyway.

We fueled up with a traditional fried breakfast at Pete’s Eats in Llanberis, a town I was happy to return to after visiting it for the first time in 2006. And hilariously, Pete’s was the only place we had eaten at back in 2006 — I recognized the brightly colored building right away.

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This trail started off innocuously enough — on big paving stones that had been inserted to help protect against erosion and the many footfalls the trail sees through the year.

We eventually got into scrambling territory and scaled a couple of gnarly (for me!) verticals. But the crux of this Crib Goch / Snowdown route for me was the ridge line between the two. It was exposed and steep and windy, and I found it pretty unsettling!

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Fortunately, this part wasn’t too long, and soon enough we were on a somewhat stable trail, traversing without much elevation gain or loss until we joined up with the trail that led the last several hundred yards up to Snowdon’s summit.

The fog made it seem very Lord of the Rings-ish, though, which was kind of cool. It also meant visibility was about 20 feet once we actually got to the summit, though, ha. I hear the views from Snowdon are great… I wouldn’t know ;)

We ran into a father-son duo who'd gotten a bit off track and faced a several-hour hike/scramble back to their starting place, so we offered them a ride. We descended together and had a long chat about all the different mountains we'd been on. Also took the opportunity to get a photo of Marcus and I together!

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We ended the day by having dinner at… you guess it — Pete’s Eats. Why mess with a good thing, right?

Awesomely, after a few lines of conversation with the older guy sitting at the table next to us, he introduced himself as Pete, the owner. The odds! We quizzed him about the climbing scene in Llanberis back in the day, and he told us some stories of his own travels. We left the restaurant 45 minutes after it had closed, with two complimentary Pete’s Eats coffee mugs in hand.

What a guy.

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By the fourth day, after three straight days of climbing and descending, my legs were shattered, and I welcomed an imposed rest day due to rain.

We hid in the tent and watched a movie, and finally took a short walk around the lake by our camp site before dinner.

We mixed it up on our last day in Wales by renting a canoe on the lake at Llanberis. It felt good to overuse my arms instead of my legs for a bit, ha.

Definitely a fun week — and an exhausting one! 10/10, would do again. Preferably with fewer gnats next time, though (my arms are covered in bites!).

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