Bwlch Glas on an April day
Is it dangerous?
Walking anywhere in the outdoors carries certain risks, and these are magnified in a mountain environment.
Walking is statistically an activity safer than many, but with hundreds of thousands of people walking on Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) annually, combined with the type of terrain and weather encountered, there are going to be accidents and injuries. Nevertheless, accidents are relatively few.
Most accidents are minor and go unrecorded, but there are sadly deaths every year.
The main risks are associated with the weather, the ground conditions, getting lost, tiredness and slipping/falling.
Whilst accidents will always happen, there are things you can do to reduce the dangers and the likelihood of them, and that’s by making sure that you are fully prepared.
Your safety on the mountain is vitally important, and whilst anyone can have an accident when out walking – even the most experienced mountain walkers (as we know!) – the likelihood of an accident can be greatly reduced by taking basic precautions; see the pages on safety, fitness and what you should wear and carry, as this is all very relevant.
The paths are essentially safe, but uneven ground makes a twisted ankle a common injury, and factors which can make the paths dangerous include wet, slippy conditions; icy conditions; and windy conditions (don’t underestimate the danger of strong wind and gusts on the more exposed upper parts of the mountain).
Some points regarding slips:
- Slips are the cause of most injuries.
- Rocks are at their slippiest when there has been a longer dry spell and recent rainfall makes them greasy; they tend to be less slippy after prolonged rain.
- If the rocks are wet, don’t step on any that have green growth on them as they are likely to be slippy (remember: “Green is mean!”).
- Note that the less used a path is, the more likely the stones are to have slippy growth on them (a good reason for not going off-piste).
- If the paths are likely to be wet you MUST have a decent tread on your footwear.
Statistically, most accidents happen on the way down. This is not just because slipping and tripping is more likely when descending, but it’s also due to tiredness and mentally relaxing having attained the summit. Bear this in mind.
Staying safe on the mountain is of primary importance, and you can facilitate this by taking some basic precautions.
Preparation includes checking the weather forecast before you leave (dry, warm conditions are much safer), and taking the right clothing and equipment with you, such as food/drink, and a map.
Never forget that Snowdon is a mountain, and deserves respect.
General safety advice
Make sure you’ve planned your route before you set off. Choose a route that suits the fitness level of everybody in your group, not just your own. Some paths are generally safer than others.
The footpaths are mostly very well defined on Snowdon – keep to them. Don’t be tempted to follow others who are leaving the path – they may be deliberately taking a much more challenging and dangerous route than you.
It is vital that you check the weather forecast before you set out.
Weather conditions on the mountain can change quickly. If conditions deteriorate such that continuing feels unwise or unsafe, don’t be afraid to change you plans or to turn back. As disappointing as it can be not to reach the summit, the mountain will still be there another time when conditions are better.
Take the time you need, take a break when necessary, and don’t rush.
Be aware of how long your walk will take in total (it’s wise to allow more time than the guides suggest to allow a safety margin), and know what time it’s likely to get dark. Sunset times are available on the Met. Office forecast for Snowdon summit. You should aim to be down well before dark.
It’s wise to let others know what you’re planning on doing and what sort of time you’ll be back. This is especially true if you’re walking on your own.
Be Adventure Smart! Ask yourself 3 questions before you set off:
- Do I have the right GEAR?
- Do I know what the WEATHER will be like?
- Am I confident I have the KNOWLEDGE & SKILLS for the day?
Staying safe also means being alert at all times and aware of the potential dangers around you. On a mountain it’s not recommended that you drink alcohol or smoke anything dodgy; you need your wits about you.
See also the page on accidents and emergencies.
You might also be interested in the Met Office’s advice on mountain safety.
A final word …
Remember – we can’t predict or specify every potential hazard on a walk up Snowdon; it’s up to you to be informed, safe and competent.