On top of Wales

My last week in Wales, I climbed to the top of Mt. Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, with a group of German girls who were also studying abroad at Bangor.

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Mt. Snowdon is unique in that it is not a climb for beginners (climbers often require rescuing on Snowdon, mainly tourists who don’t have proper clothing and equipment), yet anyone can get to the top; a train runs up the mountain and stops at the summit beside a cafe. Somehow the summit cafe manages to be tasteful and blend in without ruining the view, but still.

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Our group took the hardest climb not requiring climbing gear, and set off for the day armed with layers of clothing and a grocery aisle worth of food. Right from the beginning, the view was stunning (even on the bus ride up there). We kept a steady pace because Snowdon is about a 6-hour climb, by the time you go up and down.

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I was amazed to glimpse the sea from the mountain path. Before I even reached the summit, I felt like I could see all of Wales.

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We climbed along this ridge before we reached Snowdon.

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Mt. Snowdon, viewed near the start of out hike.

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 By the time we reached the base of the summit, I was feeling great. The sun was shining, the view was incredible, and all I had to do was go straight up and I’d be at the top.

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It took 40 minutes after that to reach the summit.

Forty minutes of climbing on my hands and feet, with no path in sight. Forty minutes of being higher than paragliders and helicopters. Forty minutes of shaking limbs and loose shale. Forty minutes of not giving up.

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Finally, I was at the top, gasping for breath. After hours of seeing only a handlful of people outside our group, I was stunned to encounter an entire crowd of people milling about and taking pictures. It was like being in a mall. This feeling of unreality washed over me.

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So these people were smoking at the summit in Cancer Awareness shirts...

So these people were smoking at the summit in Cancer Awareness shirts…

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At the top, we all shared our food, including my American pretzel bites (hooray for care packages from home!) with my German friends, and was tickled pink to see their reactions. They had never seen pretzels bites before! After this well-deserved refreshment, we descended via a rather easier trail, the Pyg track.

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Snowdonia is beautiful, and I absolutely recommend visiting Mt. Snowdon if you get a chance- just make sure you’re well-prepared. It was one of my favorite experiences in Wales.

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