Climbing Snowdon for the First Time: The Pyg Track & Llanberis Path
Earlier in 2019 I climbed Snowdon for the first time with two good friends. Climbing Snowdon is challenging, but not by any means unachievable…and the rewards are more than worth it. We climbed the Pyg Track which offers incredible views with some steep scrambles returning via the main Llanberis Path – an easier, well trodden footpath. I wanted to share our adventure for anyone else planning their first ascent. I hope you find it helpful when planning your own Snowdon adventure…
The Pyg Track
Ascent: 700 m
Time: 2.5-3 hours
It’s possible to park at the starting point of a number of popular trails at Pen Y Pass including the Pyg Track, however spaces fill up quickly with car parks often being at capacity as early as 7am.
Thankfully there is an excellent shuttle bus service that runs from Llanberis along to the Pass. We parked easily in Llanberis paying £6 for the day. The shuttle bus costs £2 and takes about 15 minutes dropping you right at the start of the Pyg Track.
The Pyg Track
The start of the trail is clearly marked behind the cafe at Pen Y Pass. This part of the walk offers incredible views back towards Llanberis. The track runs alongside Carreg Gwalch, heading towards Crib Goch. After just a short walk the track becomes a series of heavy boulders. It’s worth taking your time here and watching your step. The track continues with intermittent scrambling for the next 1.5 kilometres until reaching Bwlch Moch.
Bwlch means ‘gap’ in Welsh suitably describing the windy opening at foot of Crib Goch which takes the path through to breathtaking views of Llyn Llydaw. With the strenuous steep steps of the first part of the track behind this is a good place to take a moment to admire the surrounding landscape.
The path splits here. Be sure to keep left on the main Snowdon track and not towards the more challenging Crib Goch. The next 2 kilometres continue along the Pyg Track with a steady and gradual ascent. On a clear day you’ll catch your first glimpse of the summit ahead ahead of the awesome views across Llyn Llydaw and the Miners Track in the valley below.
The route continues along the Pyg Track, through the Cwm, towards the smaller lake of Glaslyn. On the way, there is the occasional rocky scramble adding challenge to the course. Snowdon’s peak is now in clear sight, with the remainder of the trail zigzagging ahead.
As the Miner’s Track joins the Pyg Track, the trail becomes a lot busier and steeper. From this point you’ll notice a change in the steepness of the path. This is certainly the steepest part of the climb which, combined with tired legs from 2 hours of walking makes it well worth taking additional care here. However, on a clear day the end is now in sight. You’re nearly there!
Emerging from the zig zags the track reaches the crest of the ridge, Bwlch Glas. This is where all the trails leading to the summit merge, as well as any passengers from the Mountain Railway. It can get busy!
Taking the path to your left the summit of Snowdon is just another 100m climb. There are steps either side of Snowdon summit and it can often be extremely busy in the Summer. Make the most of your time at the summit..and make sure you use the toilet in the cafe! There are very few ‘discrete’ spots on the way down!
Descending via the Llanberis Path
Distance: 5 km
Descent: 975 m
Time: 2.5 – 3 hours
The Llanberis Path is gradual and steady. The path starts along the steep Killer Convex which can be particularly challenging in wintery conditions. This side of the mountain bares the brunt of coastal winds and can be much colder than the Pyg Track even in Summer months. The track largely follows the railway passing Clogwyn Station and a small cafe at Halfway House (no toilets though!). The views that sweep down towards Llanberis are vast and scenic, but not quite as impressive as those on the Pyg Track.
The final part of the path leads down into Llanberis along a minor road, then finally past a row of terraced houses. This last leg of the walk is steep in parts, and although not particularly challenging proves incredibly painful on the knees after a 5 kilometre gradual descent. Finally you’ll arrive back in Llanberis. You’ve done it! Huge pat on the back for climbing the highest peak in Wales as well as one of the highest peaks in the UK.