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Winter on Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon)

Yr Wyddfa lived up to its name early this year, with the first dusting of snow falling early in November. This is when many people can be found preparing their ice axes and crampons as well as making sure their clothing and equipment is ready for the winter season.

One of the attractions of venturing out in winter conditions, especially on Yr Wyddfa, is the fact that a covering of snow can provide a blank canvas – with no visible paths to follow, and each step having to be carefully taken. The ability to understand how conditions can change underfoot in winter can contribute to a safe and successful day in the mountains.

Wyddfa Llyn Mymbyr

© APCE/SNPA

As part of Snowdonia National Park Authority’s effort to encourage the safe enjoyment and appreciation of Snowdonia’s mountains in winter, our Warden Service is leading, with support of partners, on a Ground Conditions Reporting service. The aim of the service is to provide information about winter ground conditions along the main established paths of Yr Wyddfa as well as other mountain areas of the Park between November and late March. The PYG track is normally the route taken for assessing conditions on Snowdon as this is where the large majority of people begin their journeys.

This is very much seen as an additional resource that should be used alongside relevant mountain weather forecasts, recognising one’s individual skill levels and experience as well as gaining knowledge from reliable online resources such as the Adventure Smart UK website so that individuals can make an informed choice based on good planning before heading out.

Anelu Aim Higher

© Stephen Jones

A member of the team heads out to the summit of Snowdon to assess and report on the conditions at least twice a week, normally on a Tuesday and Friday with the report being published bilingually by 5pm the same day. The report can be found on our website, and a shorter summary is published on Twitter (@snowdonweather) the same day which often contains a video clip to highlight the conditions underfoot.

The emphasis is to provide basic, relevant information to those who may not be that familiar with mountain walking in winter and how winter conditions, particularly underfoot, can affect their day’s journey.

Whilst undertaking the journey to assess the ground conditions on the main paths our team naturally meet other people on the mountain – and although many are well prepared, a small number are not prepared for winter weather conditions that can be encountered such as strong cold winds, snow, sleet, hail and colder temperatures. The conditions at higher levels of the mountain can be very different to those at lower levels. This can also be applied to the conditions underfoot where a covering of thin ice at lower levels can make walking challenging and can be an indicator of more severe winter conditions higher up the mountain.

Cerddwr mewn eira - walker in Snow

© Hawlfraint y Goron (Croeso Cymru) © Crown Copyright (Visit Wales)

Our team members are always happy to stop for a chat and offer advice – why not seek advice from our Wardens as they have a vast amount of knowledge and experience. The mountains are there for everyone to enjoy and with good planning, correct clothing and equipment and an honest appreciation of one’s ability they can be enjoyed safely.