back to archiveDanielís Story
Ever since I first heard of the fourteen peaks I knew that one day I would have to attempt the route but like so many other things in life it was a challenge I never got round to. Until now. With the long days of summer on me I had no more excuses, just go for it! So at 5.15am on 21st July 2011 I stepped outside Pen Y Pass youth hostel for a solo, unsupported crack at the most famous route in Wales. The weather was good, cloud shrouded the tops and a little rain hung in the air but the wind was light and temperature was near perfect for walking.
The day didn’t start well though. As I set off on the PYG heading up towards Crib Goch the wheels fell off, I hadn’t managed to sleep at all the previous night (a combination of nervous energy and multiple snorers in the hostel!) and this combined with low sugar levels was making me feel wretched. My head was spinning and I was pretty nauseous. I was worried, if I could barely make it onto the first summit, how was I going to manage another 13!
I struggled onto the summit of the Crib at 06:38 and luckily the jaffa cake breakfast I had forced down kicked in, Carnedd Ugain and Yr Wyddfa came and went easily. The same cant be said for the descent to Nant Peris (from the 610m spot height east of halfway station) which was an absolute knee wrecker but after a snack stop in the valley it was time for the most feared part of the day, the ascent of Elidir Fawr.
You only need to look at a map to see why this ascent is dreaded. I know the Snowdonian Mountains well but this was one route I had never fancied before, nothing for it now but head down and keep plodding. The summit eventually arrived and the rest of the Glyderau soon followed with surprising ease, the rocky ground and sections of scrambling providing a welcome change from the steep vegetation of the last few hours. At 15:50 I had made to the brew shack at Idwal and was able to enjoy a well earned cup of tea while trying not to focus too much on Pen Yr Ole opposite as I was aware that seven summits needed visiting and my head was still swimming from lack of sleep.
The choice of the south spur for the ascent proved good and apart from the steep scree section at half height the climb was not as bad as I had feared. Arriving onto the summit in the beautiful golden early evening light with Dafydd ahead and Cwm Lloer below was amazing and I actually began to feel good, all the major ascents done, a few gentle kilometres left and glorious evening sunshine to warm the soul.
This didn’t last! Somewhere near Carnedd Llewelyn I lost both the sunshine and the use of my knees as both clag and soreness descended. I fought on, strangely the ascents being the easy bits and the descents fairly painful. It may have been a better choice to ascend Llewelyn first rather than contour round To Yr Elen as this only proved to worsen my creaking joints but with the finish ever nearer I could push on knowing the end was in sight. The rest of the way from Llewelyn is fairly straightforward, Foel Grach and Carnedd Uchaf both came and went in ever heavier cloud and at 20:41 I arrived at Foel Fras for a bit of self-congratulation and self portrait avec trig point on the phone camera.
Now to get down to the car (parked at roadhead above Aber). I can’t stress how difficult this was, on paper the easiest descent of the day but did it ever hurt! Someone else wrote on this site that “it had to be done to be understood”. I know what they mean.
All in all a tough day, maybe a little harder than I thought but a fantastic experience that has left me with wonderful memories. If you haven’t had a crack yourself yet why not have a go, there’s nothing quite like it!