Today I took a group up Snowdon, the weather was appalling but the group were great. They really knuckled down and fought through what can only be described as torrential rain to reach the summit. It is the first time for a while I have used the PYG/Miners route and whilst the weather did little to help. I can’t help feel that Snowdon is lost to a certain extent.
Whilst there are amazing parts of the mountain, many of which I have been to recently on ML training and assessment courses. Those hidden places are the types of places I’d like to keep to myself. The reasons why are hard to make without sounding elitist and other less ingratiating words. It is only when I occasionally venture up the PYG, Miners or Llanberis paths, the most popular routes up ‘the mountain’, that I am reminded that like so many of the peaks that fit into the group where the word ‘highest’ is use to describe them that the peak becomes less of a mountain and more of a honeypot for tourists.
Everest is a prime example of how a mountain that used to be held in such high esteem, and a place for mountaineers is now a place for those with enough money to be guided to the summit and to hell with the consequences. I recently joked to a friend that these corporate mountaineers seem to leave their moral compass at basecamp. After all if you have paid somewhere in the region of £50000 to climb the mountain would you stop if someone was to drop down dead in front of you?
Whilst Snowdon does not suffer from commercialisation, in fact it is more the peoples mountain, as it is free save the parking fees. As anyone with two feet and enough time can easily walk to the summit. Instead Snowdon suffers from being too popular, being the highest mountain in England and Wales, hordes of tourists flock to the mountain. If you are a mountaineer and ever go up there in the summer you will wonder why more of them don’t require rescuing.
However my bug at the moment isn’t poorly equipped people but the lack of respect the mountain gets from many of these tourists who have gone to extreme lengths to escape the city. Only to throw litter away like they were in a slum. The amount of rubbish strewn across the hillside infuriates me, no one seems to have educate these guys with the simple notion “Take only pictures, leave only footprints”. Instead they discard water bottles, cans, fag buts and crisp packets everywhere sometimes going to length to jam them between boulders in the hope that someone will come along and collect he rubbish.
I am sure some of this comes from the many three peak challenges that are constantly rolling into and out of Llanberis. Which don’t get me wrong is a great boost to the local economy, and we certainly get more from three peakers than the poor Lake District or Fort William. But again these people often seem poorly educated in how to treat one of the great mountainous and wild places left in the UK this side of Hadrian’s Wall.
However when you get to the summit, what should surely be the iconic centre piece of the experience I am astonished at the mess. Now whilst there is still rubbish, it often is blown away before too long. Nor is it the Summit cafe, I actually think it looks great compared to what used to be there. However as soon as the cafe was finished the workers seemed to think that the job was finished. Builders rubble and relics of past structures make the area immediately adjacent to the building look awful.
In my mind the Snowdon Railway, who no doubt make a lot of money from the cafe, should take metaphorical ownership of the ground within 10ft of the building and finish the job they started. Snowdon to me is the greatest asset North Wales has. It is visible from miles away and attracts people like the proverbial bees round the honeypot. Yet on closer inspection despite a £9 million facelift, it is still the highest slum in Britain.
I don’t know what the answer is, it just pained me today looking at the state of such an iconic mountain that despite me bemoaning it here, is actually my favourite mountain.