Our last adult- only group hike saw us head to Snowdonia for what was sure to be an epic day. Not only were we free from our kids (we love them really!), but we were also staying overnight in order to set off at 4am the next day for a Snowdonia sunrise at the summit of Y Garn. What a day we had.
As I currently sit typing, I can hear the swirl of wind and heavy rain lashing at the window adjacent to me. I thought this was supposed to be summer? My miserable day sitting in front of a computer makes our Snowdonia sunrise seem like a world away. However, I suppose our typically unpredictable British weather makes those rare blue sky, cloudless days all the more emphatic and enjoyable.
As we arrived at YHA Idwal Cottage in the afternoon prior to our adventure, we were all aware of how good the forecast was. That said, it wouldn’t be the first time we’d been let down by changeable mountain weather. The plan for the afternoon was to relax and grab a bite to eat somewhere. We also wanted to get to know each other, as some of our weekend adventurers were new to the group. This particular aspect went really well. Some may say a little too well! At least one member of the group had spent the afternoon and much of the evening claiming that not a single beer would pass his lips. I’m not one to name names (Stewart), but the same person wasn’t quite 100% early the next morning haha!
So, after a good pub meal and a few (depending on how you scale these things) beers, we got our heads down for a small number of hours until our alarms were destined to bleat at 3:30am. That moment seemed to come all too soon. Fortunately, despite the beer, nobody required the services of a wake-up call. Bleary-eyed, we congregated in the communal hostel kitchen prepping flasks and speed-eating porridge. It was time to go if we wanted to catch that Snowdonia sunrise.
The good news, straight away, was that we could see stars. Millions of them. We even caught sight of Jupiter, which appeared much bigger and brighter than anything else other than the moon. It was starting to look good for our clear day forecast. So, with head torches on, we started the long, slow ascent up Y Garn. It’s pretty tough going when you’ve had a couple of beers the night before. Consequently, the pace was slow and gentle. Unfortunately, the same could not be said of the gradient which, to put it simply, is steep. However, for those of you who haven’t been up Y Garn before, the views are worth it. They are simple awesome. Looking out over the Ogwen Valley, the Glyders, the Snowdon Range and Anglesey as you rotate 360 degrees, it’s a great place for a Snowdonia sunrise.
At the summit we were all glad that we’d crawled out of bed. We sat, had a coffee and enjoyed the spectacular Snowdonia sunrise for about 20 minutes. It was then time to head on over to the Glyders. First up was Glyder Fawr. This is where we saw our first signs of life – a group of wild campers near the base of the mountain. It was still too early for even them so we quietly made our past so as not disturb them.
The vast majority of the group had only ever really stuck to the path going up Glyder Fawr so my more direct route, that had us scrambling over the boulders near the summit, was warmly welcomed. There’s some unpleasant scree to traverse first but, once that is over, the more hands-on approach is definitely more interesting than the path. After a pretty substantial descent and ascent we were ready for another coffee at the summit. We sat, we chatted and we posed for pictures, still yet to see another human face despite being on our second summit if the day.
Our third summit of the morning was Glyder Fach. Fortunately for our legs, this journey involved the flattest and shortest section of the day. Glyder Fach’s true summit is only achievable if you use your hands. The group were more than happy about this. Even our least experienced members felt like they were improving with every step and hand-hold. We marvelled at the Castell of the Winds and sat watching each other fool around on the Cantilever Stone. It was here that we also saw other people for the first time: a pair of fellow early hikers who were also out catching the best of the day. Again, if you’ve not been, this should be high on your Snowdonia bucket list.
Last but not least, we scrambled up the Tryfan south ridge for our final summit of the day. After picking our lines we soon arrived at the famous Adam and Eves stones. Those who had not jumped them previously were encouraged to do so, with one of our group taking it all in his stride. You certainly wouldn’t have guessed it was his first time the way he hopped from one to the other. The Tryfan summit was pretty busy as we were also greeted by adventurers coming up the North Ridge. Consequently, after a quick fuel stop we started to make our way down.
It was truly an epic day. A sunrise summit, one of four Snowdonia summits we conquered that day, lots of scrambling, lots of support and encouragement, and the weather was just perfect. I, for one, cannot wait for the next group hike.