The Welsh 3000's
As a mountaineer I sometimes find this difficult to answer. Put simply though, 'because it's there'!
We all like a challenge, to push ourselves, test our limits. And some like doing that in the mountains. There are many thousands of challenges in the UK mountains and a few of the more notable ones have been named and even become popular. Completing a mountain challenge brings a huge sense of personal achievement, surely this is why we do it.
What are the Welsh 3000's?
All the mountains in Snowdonia over 3000ft. So that's 3 mountain ranges (Carneddau, Glyderau, Snowdon), and 15 summits. Terrain includes lots of walking and some very exposed ridge scrambling. A head for heights is required and previous scrambling experience recommended.
Some choose to try this over just one day, although that requires running some of the route. Others will go for 1 range per day, which is still a big 3 days out in the mountains. A few years ago I ran this route, managing a respectable time of 10 hours 50 minutes. But I was quite broken for a few days afterwards, so wouldn't attempt that again!!
Day one - The Carneddau:
Foel Fras; Carnedd Uchaf; Foel Grach. There are actually 7 summits on the Carneddau, but our attempt on them ended at number 3.
From the start, we had been battered by storm force winds, soon the rain came too which really cooled us down! Feel Fras came soon enough, and onto Craned Uchaf it was micro navigation territory with very poor visibility. Shelter from the wind came in the form of a rocky outcrop, this was most welcome. I was starting to have doubts about completing the route today. We soldiered on to Foel Goch and huddled in the summit shelter, having a cold lunch break. By now the wind was of the 'blow us off our feet' variety and I knew a plan b was urgently required.
A quick look at the map showed an escape route into a nearby valley. We took this option and aimed for Bethesda. A pleasant valley walked followed. A real shame to have this cut short so soon.
Day two - The Glyderau:
Well, what a contrast to yesterday. Bluebird skies and no wind, yippee!
Tryfan; Glyder Fach; Glyder Fawr; Y Garn; Elidir Fawr. So that's 5 summits today and yes we did them all, with ease. The terrain underfoot is very rocky at times, and walking up onto the Glyder summit is very steep and loose, making it quite a slog. But once on the tops, wow what a view. Snowdon and its ridges were clearly visible, as were all the Carneddau (where we should have been yesterday). The day finished with a long descent into Nant Peris and soon we were in the pub :-)
Day three - Snowdon:
But not only Snowdon! Crib Goch and Crib y Ddysgl too. The 2 striking ridges leading to the Snowdon summit from Pen y Pass. There were some nerves showing this morning, as Crib Goch has quite a reputation. However, we breezed across it no problems and were equally efficient over Crib y Ddysgl, nice one. Snowdon summit followed shortly after and with this the hope (for Yana) of coffee. Alas, the cafe was closed. We found this strange on such a warm and sunny day, and with so many people around.
We descended via the PYG track to Pen y Pass. Here Yana tried again to find coffee, yet the cafe here was closed too!! The car park was full and loads of people around, so why closed?
Yana, I hope you found coffee on the drive home.
Our time was 20 hours split over the 3 days. Weather was winter, summer, spring, and autumn. Sometimes all within the space of 10 minutes! So pretty standard mountain weather really. What makes the UK mountains so interesting and challenging is this amazing weather. What they lack in size, they make up for in volatility of conditions = fantastic.
Thanks Yana & Dina for good company and all your efforts during the challenge.