For a few weeks or months now Snowdon has been sporting several new way markers, in the form of large stone signs. It has been a bone of contention with local climbers and hillwalkers for years Only a a few years ago I was one of those locals who was dead set against them. In the intervening years of I have not so much come round to the idea but accepted that the decision is beyond my control.
Whilst I understand the argument that it is the thin end of the wedge from the more staunch traditionalists. To a degree I actually agree with them, in that I would not like to see signs proliferate onto other mountains other than snowdon. More on why later. The main argument other than helping guide tourists that literally swarm over Snowdon at the slightest hint of good or fair weather, is that they will reduce accidents.
What I think it is important now is that the National Park actually check with the Llanberis Rescue Team to see whether they do in fact reduce the number of rescues. Both in terms of number of call outs and where and when people get stuck and why they went that way. It is all well and good saying that they will reduce rescues, but there is one thing for sure, a change in any systems no matter how simple or well planned that change can and will have unforeseen consequences.
I also get a bee in my bonnet about false claims, I saw one the other day and was like wow, Really. What were you thinking? It was basically a claim for a course that said that it help raise performance in a certain group and hadn’t taken into account that for the year they were talking about that group had just started using a brand new climbing wall that was twice the length of the old one and almost identical to where a championship was held. Yet it was the course that made the difference not the facility!
One of those unforeseen consequence might be that Crib Coch is now signposted, so whilst the main footpaths may see less accidents and rescues as people now just need to follow the signs, but how many people will wander up there having heard that Crib Coch is the ‘hardest’ way up Snowdon? What do the signs say for hillwalking in general, as to me it says forget the map there are signs up there, which will of course lead to even less experienced people on the mountain and maybe even more call outs. If you think people can remember where they parked,so they can follow the signs down think again. I have come across people who couldn’t remember if they came from Pen Y Pass or Llanberis.
The one thing that is good it is has turn Snowdon into an even bigger honey pot than it already is. Which is good for business in North Wales and something that I like to see the promotion of this amazing resource of the Snowdonia mountains. As such to a certain extent I am all for making Snowdon a sacrificial cow. There are many places that are off the beaten track on the mountain, places I know and love. The main paths are from years of experience taking groups up there, lost to the avid hill goer. They are busy, noisy almost urban affairs where users abuse the mountain tucking litter into cracks, discarding anything that is slowing them down. In places it can look like extreme fly tipping. I try to avoid the summit as often as possible, unless I want to laugh at ill equipped idiots who are borderline hypothermic.
My one problem though with it all is the parks inability to remove older signs. Which was why I took the top photo.