A Natural High

You haven’t got to spend long looking around the summit of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) to realise that many people are on a natural high. Almost exclusively they’re there by choice, and they’ve finally made it. They’ve got every right to feel elated, even if it wasn’t smiles all the time on the way up.

And why shouldn’t they celebrate with a drink or something special?  Many’s the time I’ve been offered a piece of birthday or some other type of celebratory cake at the summit.

But then there are some who get their highs with a little additional encouragement – from alcohol. It’s not an uncommon sight to see people walking up drinking from beer bottles or cans, and it’s an even more common sight at the summit. Sometimes a severe case of style breaks out, and the champagne glasses and the fizz appear.

A little tipple at the top might be well deserved, but it’s far from a good idea to get tipsy in a mountain environment. As it is, most accidents happen on the way down, so the addition of alcohol to the mix isn’t wise.

Aside from blurring your judgement, drinking alcohol when it’s hot isn’t the relief it would seem. Alcohol makes you want to pee more and sweat more, so you lose more fluid than you take in and become dehydrated.

Hafod Eryri, the summit building, sells bottled beer – 1085, what else? – and most of what is bought is probably consumed there and then. Again, is this such a wise idea?

1085, Snowdon’s Lager, brewed by the Great Orme Brewery, which is actually 20 miles from Snowdon as the crow flies.

And sadly, the evidence of alcohol consumption lies everywhere at the summit. The litter pickers will always find glass beer bottles on the paths (other brands are available) and it’s no fun having to carry these heavy items down.

And then there’s those who get their highs with a little help from the wacky baccy.

Believe it or not, there’s not been one Saturday this season when I haven’t smelt weed at the summit. (Saturdays seem to attract a certain type of person. Go up mid-week and you’ll be far less likely to smell anything unsavoury.)  On occasion I’ve been following a group smoking it on the way up, and have had to either overtake them or let them get some distance ahead, as walking in a cloud of weed isn’t what I want to do.

Of course, most people smoke weed to get high, but like alcohol, it can cloud your senses and judgment – far from ideal at the top of a mountain. The main psycho-active ingredient, THC, stimulates the part of your brain that responds to pleasure, and that, in turn, unleashes a chemical called dopamine, which gives you a euphoric, relaxed feeling.

But most of us get that anyway just from reaching the summit.

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