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Is Snowdon just too accessible?

Several times recently I’ve encountered people who believe that Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) is just too accessible, and it’s that which leads to some of its problems.

Certainly the National Park Authority are of the same opinion; recently they have been saying that Yr Wyddfa is over-popular, and through social media they’ve been trying to pursuade people to consider walking in other areas of Eryri (Snowdonia) and up other mountains.

Now then, we understand why Yr Wyddfa is so popular, and why for many people only this particular mountain will do, but if it weren’t quite so accessible, and if the paths weren’t so good and well amintained, would that make a difference?

The point is, it’s very easy to roll up at the bottom of the mountain at short notice and start walking; for many, it really doesn’t require much effort to get there, nor planning either. And the well-engineered paths mean that basically anyone with a reasonable level of fitness can do it.

Those arguing that Yr Wyddfa is too accessible have a point, of course. If there were no car parks right at the foot of all the main paths up the mountain, it would require more in the way of effort to “do Snowdon”, it would necessitate more in the way of forward planning, and some woul-be visitors would likely get sifted out.

And as a consequence of the ease of getting here, some have also called Yr Wyddfa the most dangerous mountain in Britain. Certainly it sees lots of accidents (statistically it’s going to, of course, by virtue of the numbers) though it’s not really possible to know what proportion of them are as a result of “non-serious” people who are attracted by its accessibility, and who would be put off if it wasn’t all so easy.

I found myself thinking along these lines recently:

It was mid-January, there was a fair bit of fresh snow on the mountain, blue skies were forecast, and that’s why I was going up that day with a friend – for some decent winter conditions. On the way up the Pyg Track (near the Intersection) we encountered two lads coming down, who we passed the time of day with and asked about conditions at the summit.

They actually told us more than we expected to hear. It seems that they had never been up Snowdon before, and didn’t know what the paths were called, or indeed which path they’d used on the ascent (the Miners, we think), or which path they were on now on their way down. They’d decided to come at short notice from Liverpool, having seen some sunrise photos online, and had started up from Pen y Pass at 5 a.m. in the pitch black, intending to see the sunrise. They had no torches, they hadn’t checked the forecast and hadn’t expected snow. They were carrying very little. They told us about having to clamber over fences (?) in the dark, and at one point near the summit they were seriously thinking that they were going to die.

Given that it was -6˚ at the summit, with a windchill temperature of -15˚, they were lucky to have got away with it so lightly, but they admitted they’d have a story to tell when they got back.

Now if Yr Wyddfa wasn’t so accessible, so easy to get to and walk up, would they have come?

Is is too easy to find yourself nearly 1000m up and somewhere like this?


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