The Times They Are a-Changin’

Bob Dylan probably didn’t have Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) in mind when he wrote those words, but just as every generation sees changes from the previous one, so Yr Wyddfa is no exception this respect.

For instance, getting an up-to-date weather forecast is easy, thanks to the internet. Wherever in the world someone lives, they can check out the forecast on Yr Wyddfa or in Eryri (Snowdonia) generally at the drop of a hat.

But it wasn’t always like that, as some of you who are longer in the tooth will remember. In pre-internet days, it was often a case of trying to catch a weather forecast on news bulletins (which were few and far between and not especially detailed or accurate) or there were premium rate phone lines which gave a very limited forecast for the day.

And we have the internet to thank for making available up-to-date information about all aspects of walking up Yr Wyddfa. Take a bow,!

Another positive in technology is the ease of communication on most parts of the mountain. There is a good phone signal at the summit, and sending messages or photos is easy. Yes, the south and west sides of the mountain are rather blackspots, but a new 4G mast has recently been erected at Rhyd Ddu, and when the public are eventually allowed to use it (it’s currently only for the emergency services) it will help immensely.

The mountain rescue teams and rescue services have benefitted in other ways from improvements in technology; today they can pinpoint a caller’s smartphone on a map using modern software, rather than having to go by vague descriptions.

Some 50 years ago, some of the paths on Yr Wyddfa were in an appalling state and erosion was rife. Thanks to urgent intervention in the 1970s and 1980s an ongoing serious programme of path maintenance was instigated and has largely reversed that trend.

Certainly social media can provide very up-to-date information. A request on a Facebook group about, say, conditions on a certain path in winter will invariably elicit a response within minutes, as will any other sort of inquiry about the mountain. But has social media only brought benefits? Certainly it also has to accept responsibility for the huge increase in numbers on Yr Wyddfa in the last decade or so. This growth in numbers can be directly linked to the rise of social media, and this has brought about the often long queues at the summit which are largely the result of people wanting to take their (often numerous) selfies at the summit pillar.

And if we must have a building at the top (the precedent was set well over 150 years ago), it must be said that the summit is a nicer place than it once was. Yes, we complain about the litter there, but at one time (we’re going back 100 years or so) all the waste from the summit huts was just dumped there, or worse still, simply thrown over the edge. That was the fate of some of the wooden huts too.

Many of us tend to think of Hafod Eryri as a new building, but it was opened in 2009, which is now nearly 15 years ago. When it was designed (some years before construction started in 2006) Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist, and the likes of Instagram and TicToc were still years away. It was never envisaged that the numbers of people on Yr Wyddfa, and those wanting to access Hafod Eryri, would be as they are today. Next time you’re in there and it’s rammed (probably because the weather is poor outside) just remember that it was only designed for half that number of people.

What’s more, we weren’t so aware of environmental considerations 20 years ago either, and despite the technological advances in its construction, Hafod Eryri is today far from being the eco-friendly building we would like it to be, falling well short of modern CO2 standards.

Yes, change is a certainty in life, and Yr Wyddfa has seen its share. Hopefully it’s mostly for the better.

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