Snowdon: Plan for the worst and hope for the best

Can enthusiasm alone get you up Snowdon?

As I drove to Wales under overcast skies, I hoped so. By the time I reached North Wales, it was very cold but the sun was out.  The challenge of getting up Snowdon seemed do-able.

Llyn Owgen (Friday)

Llyn Owgen (Friday)

The plan was to walk up the mountain for Comic Relief. Anyone I knew, who knew Snowdon, baulked at the idea of a group of (mostly) novice walkers heading up the mountain on 2nd March. Still in winter condition and topped with snow, local guides advise caution.

When the weather is good, being in the mountains is a glorious gift. I’ve walked the mountains of North Wales many times. When it is bad, it’s unforgiving and it can be utterly miserable. Comic Relief raises money to support disadvantaged people in the UK and around the world. People who wake up each day to the challenge of poverty, promoting projects to creating lasting change.  A walk up Snowdon seemed a suitable challenge.

Summit weather the weekend before was foggy, -13 and 30 mph winds. A very grim day out. A friend simply suggested if we got there on Saturday and the weather was poor, to reconvene in 6 weeks.  By then the mountain train is running, providing an exit strategy (as long as you can get to the top). The summit cafe is open for shelter from rain and cold. Spring weather is more reliable. As much as that seemed a good idea, the date was set.

A group of bloggers, many of whom had only ‘met’ on social media, had committed to raise sponsorship and to travel from as far away as Cornwall, Kent and Ireland. By Friday evening, as we gathered in youth hostel and met as a group for the first time, that group of bloggers had raised £4,000 for the charity.  Spurred by Annie’s, Penny’s and Mummy Barrow’s experiences in Ghana. The motivation and enthusiasm was available in bucketfuls. Would the mountain be agreeable?

Penny and I had spent the last month organising. I’d nagged people about appropriate kit. Begged favours from local Welsh friends. Sent out directions and descriptions. Penny had organised accommodation, cake and sponsorship.

Statistically Britain’s most popular mountain and statistically the most dangerous. Without proper preparation and kit it can easily become a hazard.  The mountain rescue website has an entire page dedicated to the failings of charity walks up the mountain and how to avoid them; “Plan for the worst and hope for the best”.

The group called in favours, borrowing rucksacks and waterproofs, they packed wooly hats and gloves, Hi-tech provided walking socks, new boots were purchased. Come prepared with flasks and snacks, I’d said.  Gower Cottage supplied delicious Brownies. The YHA Snowdon ranger hostel, nestled below the mountain at Rhyd Ddu offered warm beds and packed lunches.

Getting ready, on the way, paths, pants, frozen lakes and Snowdon

On the way up. Getting ready, pants, paths, frozen lakes and Snowdon

The enthusiasm of 21 people at 8.30 am in Pen Y Pass car park was palpable. The weather looked favourable. An early start gives time enough to complete the walk in daylight hours, at a steady pace with stops for food and drink. Any route up Snowdon is a long walk.  All the routes are ‘hard’. It’s a challenging terrain. Our route; the miner’s track, a shorter and popular route up the mountain. Some scrabbling required and negotiation of small paths covered in loose rock. When anyone flagged there was encouragement and smiles. Onwards and upwards we went.  Across slush, snow and ice.  Blessed with cold blue skies.

Almost the summit and the summit with lovely people

At the Summit

At 1pm we reached the summit.  The sense of achievement was huge (and social media was very much updated).

The Llanberis path down is 4 and half miles.  The ‘down’ puts strain knees and toes. Getting a group to the top isn’t the hard part getting the group down is, say Mountain Rescue. At 4.30 pm a very weary but happy group were safely in Llanberis. Snowdon gave us it’s best.

the way down

the way down

Enthusiasm works well but not in isolation, someone who can read a map and compass when visibly is lost in cloud, someone who knows the paths that are not always obvious. Someone who has confidence if something does go wrong. That experience helps a lot. I am very grateful to the two locals friends who offered to provide that, because that expertise effectively gets a group up a mountain.

There is no doubt Snowdon is a challenge, it is not for the faint hearted and I’m proud to say we did it and in doing say SO FAR, due to the generosity of others, we’ve raised £5,500.

Thank you very very much to everyone who has sponsored us.

“People living in the poorest countries are the most vulnerable to malaria. In 2010, 90% of all malaria deaths occurred in the WHO African Region, mostly among children under five years of age”.
World Heath Authority

As Mummy Barrow reminded me; essentially our challenge brought 1,000 mosquito nets. Please help us raise more money. Sponsor: Red Nose Teamhonk Snowdon Challenge and help us hit £6,000.

Check out all the bloggers climbers here.


  1. An Exeter Mum

    You all did amazingly well, I am in awe! And such a huge amount if money raised too, it will make such a difference. I went to Snowdon a few years back and did not go to the top but probably half way up. It’s is such a beautiful place xx

  2. Alexander Residence

    This really puts it in perspective Gemma, both the challenge we took on and the difference in makes. I am so glad we finally got to do what we promised we would do together one day – climb a mountain, and that it made such a difference to the world x

  3. MishMashMamma

    Hey Gemma, what a great achievement! It must be such a great feeling to reach the top and to know how many people you have helped by doing that. I hope to climb Snowdon for the first time on April 1st for the Brain Tumour Charity of which I am an Ambassador. Mammasaurus has told me that you are the fountain of all knowledge! Please can I contact you for some advice and guidance?

  4. Pingback: #TeamHonk climbed Snowdon for Red Nose Day! | It started with a Squish

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