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Staying Safe in the Snow on Snowdon

Hard on the heels of the hottest December on record, Britain looks set to get its first proper taste of winter over the coming days as colder weather brings with it the prospect of snowy and icy conditions across much of the UK. Snowdonia and the rest of North Wales are in the firing line, with temperatures expected to plummet as low as minus 10C. It might, however, turn out be a relatively short cold blast as forecasters believe milder temperatures (and rain) may return by Sunday.

So what does this mean for people hoping to get up Snowdon over the next few days? Obviously, the inclement weather conditions will have a significant impact – and with nearly two months of winter left to go, there’s a good chance that this won’t be the last we see of the cold and snow. If you’re planning a trip to the region this winter, here’s what you need to consider.


Snowdonia’s climate

Generally speaking, Snowdonia weather is pretty mild due to the influence of moist air from the Atlantic Ocean. In the summer, temperatures can peak in excess of 25C – although they can also dip below zero on occasion when you factor in the wind chill, so there can be substantial variation even in the warmer months. Rainfall and cloud can render conditions on the mountains treacherous all year around.

It’s always worth remembering that snow can fall on the mountains of Snowdonia from October onwards. While snowfall in autumn tends to be relatively modest when it does occur, it can make conditions more difficult for climbers and walkers. Obviously, the less experienced you are, the harder you’re likely to find it when there’s snow and ice around – with an increased risk of slips, trips and falls. Winds can also be strong and biting on the mountain in the winter, so this is another issue you need to take into account.


Preparing for the trek

It’s always essential to make sure you’re properly prepared for unfavourable weather conditions when preparing for hiking up Snowdon, but this is especially true in winter. Before setting off for Snowdonia this week you should ensure you follow up-to-date weather forecasts. If you’re an inexperienced climber, it may be best if you reschedule your trip until a time when the conditions are less challenging.

Staying safe in the mountains when conditions are snowy and icy requires expert skills and knowledge as well as the right equipment. If you aren’t an experienced enough mountaineer to have some idea of what to expect, climbing in these conditions isn’t for you. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy Snowdon altogether, though – some of the simpler walking paths should still be passable to a certain distance. It’s better, therefore, to stick to those.

Winter walks up the mountain can be incredibly rewarding, and the views are often fantastic. But you need to make sure you’re probably wrapped up against the elements. Here’s some of the equipment you’ll need:

  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Base layer
  • Fleece jacket
  • Ski gloves or mittens (don’t forget to bring spares)
  • Thick socks
  • Sturdy winter walking boots
  • Ski goggles
  • Rucksack
  • Torch
  • Packed lunch, water bottles and/or Thermos flask
  • Any personal medication you might need
  • Map and compass

The mountains in winter are a spectacular sight, but to enjoy them safely you need to take the right precautions. Provided you do so, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to enjoy a fascinating and safe trip to Snowdonia over the coming days. But remember, both the Snowdon Mountain Railway and the Hafod Eryri visitors’ centre at the top of the mountain is currently closed and will reopen in late spring – and don’t forget to check our FAQ page for further information before you visit.

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