Equipped with a desire for adventure and backpacks full of snacks, I and fourteen other DMU students began climbing Mount Snowdon as part of our fundraising task for a local charity. With our mountain climbing guide leading the way, we followed suit whilst enjoying the astounding scenery Wales welcomed us with.
To begin with, the hike was fairly painless and uncomplicated; we were in such good spirits we even started bellowing out the song of ‘Ain’t no mountain high enough’ at the top of our lungs. With the cold morning wind hurrying us along, we had spent two hours hiking.
I instantly regretted loading up my backpack with too many snacks with every exhausting step I took; carrying the bulky weight of it whilst also jumping across streams of rivers was not something I managed to do gracefully. The weather however, decided we were not experiencing a true adventure until we had been pelted with hailstones.
At this point, our mountain climbing guide informed us to take shelter against the hailstones by huddling under a big jagged piece of rock; we had no choice but to wait it out. To think that it would all remain upbeat and smooth sailing from this point onwards, was naïve of me.
The hailstones had turned into hard hitting and large rain droplets, which were no better than the hailstones but enough to make us venture onwards in climbing the mountain. However, our mountain climbing guide was nowhere to be seen. He had, it appeared, completely vanished.
Trying to remain calm, with only a flimsy map which was now soaking wet from the rain rendering it illegible, we remembered we had been told to try to make our own way up the mountain if we found ourselves in such a predicament as the one we were currently in.
My internal compass was useless, questions such as “Haven’t we already passed this rock?”, “Can you remember if we’ve already seen this stream of river?”, and “Is anyone else really exhausted, hungry and wants to lie down for a while?” began to be voiced.
All the rocks looked the same. The streams of rivers were identical. The rain wasn’t lessening, and the fog made it impossible to see a clear and safe path. We had to admit it; we were utterly lost. I managed to take a photograph of the exact moment we all discovered (much to our annoyance and frustration) that we had been circling the same mountain for two hours.
After an agonising five hours of climbing, we had reached the top of Mount Snowdon. We were all so shocked we had made it, with a mountain guide leading us only halfway and then disappearing.
We found him one we had reached the top; he had fractured his arm and went to get help. With the rain, fog and heavy wind flailing us around, with exhaustion and hunger making us irritable and leaving us defeated and deflated feeling; we had done it. We had climbed the highest mountain in Wales.
Nobody could produce any words; we just clutched each other’s arms excitedly, too tired to voice our inexplicable adventure. We had a group hug and one person even cried out of sheer disbelief and possible hunger.
As cliché as it sounds, the view once we had reached the top, had made the whole journey extremely worthwhile. A sense of an overwhelming personal accomplishment as well as comfort; knowing we had raised over £4000 for a local charity, was something we had sought to find when we began climbing right at the very bottom of the mountain.
As we began our descent back down, something wonderful happened. The fog began to clear, the sun was breaking through, and the colours of the cliffs and our surroundings became visible. We stopped to admire and bask in the glory of Snowdonia. It was definitely the adventure we had all been craving, a story we could not wait to narrate back to our family and friends.
It was definitely a worthwhile experience and one that will never be forgotten. If you are brave enough to climb a mountain make sure you bring lots of layers; a water-resistant coat, gloves and double socks will bring you a much needed warm comfort when climbing through cold temperature.
Some people actually ran up and down Mount Snowdon. I called them the crazy people but it was inspirational to watch and inspirational for them to hear our cheers. It is also very important to be aware of a stranded situation and what to do in such a situation.
In hindsight, it probably would have been wise to take a compass and several maps along with us. Also, take down the number of the volunteer squad; it will come in handy should you get lost.
Most importantly enjoy it. Climbing a mountain is difficult and challenging to say the least, so every time you begin to feel exhausted, remember that you are climbing a mountain. This is not something you ordinarily do, so take advantage of it. Stop to take pictures of the scenery and people who look funny when they are irritated and tired. So definitely above all, enjoy it!