After climbing Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat a few weeks back, I got reminiscing. Thinking about adventures past, about when I climbed Snowdon with a group of friends from what was then Regiment Fitness.
Challenges come in all forms. They don’t have to involve running miles and miles, or putting your body through the trauma that can surround a challenge which involves high levels of endurance and the months of training that comes along with it. Snowdon was one of these challenges.
Don’t get me wrong, it still required a certain level of fitness to climb it. However, it did not require months of preparation. As long as you have a basic level of fitness and can handle walking for several hours, without a fear of heights then you are able to do it. And if not, you can always jump on the train.
Obviously as I am one for a challenge and we were part of a fitness group at the time, there was no chance of us hopping on the train. And I personally wanted to experience every moment of the climb – good and bad.
Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales and England, standing at 1,085m, with six different paths each with challenging terrains. Organised by our group Regiment Fitness, we took the Llanberis Path.
With our back packs, clothing for all weathers and our overly sensible walking boots we made our way. On a bright, sunny June morning we were in high spirits – expecting amazing views and blazing sunshine all the way to the summit.
How wrong we were. What was a beautiful day at the bottom of the mountain was a completely different story at the top.
The route was challenging – very steep for the first 15 minutes, which I now realise is pretty standard with any climb. The route almost then levelled out for a while, following the train path, with a mixture of gravel and stone terrains – which originally was used for ponies and mules to carry tourists to the top.
The path changes considerably throughout the route with high steps to climb, then a very precarious, steep climb closer to the summit – which made me wish I brought a pair of crampons.
The weather is also extremely interchangeable. I remember the girls and I delving into our back packs half way up to add layers – jumpers, waterproof jackets, hats and gloves were all donned the closer we got to the summit. The glorious weather and views we experienced further down were completely different the higher we climbed.
And the higher we climbed the scarier it became. Visibility became poor – barely even able to see in front of us and therefore hard to determine where the path ended and the edge of the mountain began. The wind was something I had never experienced before and at one point we were all clinging on to each other – desperate to reach the summit and get down back to earth as quickly as possible.
The notion we had of sitting at the top eating our pre-made sandwiches and sipping on prosecco was quickly forgotten. We reached the top, seeing some scary sights of others having difficultly, and started our descent, with was just as arduous.
Once the scary part of the climb was done and we had the fantastic views again – we had to laugh. The summit was terrifying. The glorious pictures of people smiling at the summit with the sun shining we had seen during our research seemed so far away from our own experiences. But that’s just it – we experienced it. And despite having a little fear in our hearts at the top, we had a fantastic time overcoming this challenge.
Trekking a total of nine miles (there and back), we were gone for several hours. Snowdon estimate six hours in total, and I don’t think we were far off that.
I do remember the buzz we had once we were back at the meeting point. That glass of wine at The Heights pub was the best I had ever tasted. As was the prosecco from our back packs on the coach ride back to our accommodation.
The challenge was complete. It was not what we expected, it was not what we planned for. However, we had an amazing experience – with many memories that will live with us forever.
And with all challenges it left me with a buzz of wanting more. I readily discussed climbing more mountains after my Snowdon experience, however other challenges have taken precedence over the last few years.
Arthur’s seat reignited my passion for trekking. And therefore perhaps 2018 will have more mountain climbs on my bucket list.