Snowdon: Don’t read this if you have a fear of heights and plan to go via Crib Goch

I can barely walk properly as I write this. Only after a weekend of walking and scrambling do I realise that I haven’t done any real exercise since the surgery, beyond the short cycles around town and the almost-once-weekly climbs.

My muscles feel like they’ve been soaked in lactic acid and I got angry at Nasty for cursing at me because he was angry at me for screaming too loud because I was angry he thought it was amusing to give my thighs even a slight squeeze, which hurt like hell.

But before all that pain, we drove five hours up to Wales the weekend just past and based ourselves in the village of Betws-y-Coed within the Snowdonia National Park, in north-western Wales.

The weather throughout the weekend was fantastic and we made our way up Snowdon on Saturday, the highest mountain in Wales. There are six main routes up Snowdon and we chose the Pyg Track, which according to our guidebook is the “more interesting and involves some scrambling”.

The start of the Pyg Track is nice and easy, and then at this point above the lake, the track forks into two, one continuing more or less above the lake, and the other one going right, straight up a ridge. I remembered reading somewhere that we should choose the left path for the Pyg Track, but Nasty insisted we go right, and so up we climbed.

After some scrambling, the sight of this greeted me. We have apparently climbed up to the exposed knife-edged ridge that is Crib Goch, with sheer drops and three pinnacles to get through before we can proceed to the summit of Snowdon, the pointy peak in the background of the photo.

It filled me with total fear.

Have I ever said that I have a terrible and absolute fear of heights? The ridge is a sheer vertical drop on the right (left in this photo as it’s looking back at the route we’d just come from) and a steep drop on the left. You’re completely exposed at the top and there’s nothing you can do about it.

There were two guys up there who nonchalantly decided to stop in the middle of the ridge to have chat, standing upright with their hands on their hips. There is no photo of me up on that ridge with at least one hand grabbing onto something at all times.

Getting around the pinnacles was a challenge and knowing how high up I was was terrifying.

I had no idea that it was going to be like that when we chose the right turn at the fork and I would guess that it wasn’t just me. Up on the ridge, I passed a woman who was just as petrified, if not more, and at one point she clung to the rock just sitting there. My only consolation was knowing that I wasn’t the worst person up there, although more than once, I really thought I was just going to sit there and cry until mountain rescue come get me down. That’s how terrified I was.

I only kept going because there was literally no turning back. Going back is the same, if not worst, because descending it is probably even more dangerous.

I was too petrified to take photos. Or even remember that cameras existed. I was just really trying not to fall off the bloody mountain. The above video gives a great overview of what is was like crossing Crib Goch on a sunny day.

This other short video (which I can’t embed) shows how scary it was like traversing some of the narrowest parts of the ridge.

And this video shows what it was like going up and around one of the pinnacles.

It was brilliantly beautiful and mortifying all at the same time.

Nasty thought it was “fun and a bit challenging”, but for someone with a fear of heights, it was bordering on completely terrorising.

We eventually made it across the ridge and up to the summit of Snowdon, which offered fantastic views.

Although it was a bright, cloudless, and sunny day, there was this odd haze in the atmosphere and everyone seemed to agree that it’s the volcanic ash from the recent eruption in Iceland.

This view shows the ridge we’ve just come from, which not too many people went up. However, many others came up through much easier tracks and the summit was actually very crowded and noisy, complete with token Englishmen opening cans of Carling, dropping their trousers and lighting cigarettes.

So the summit was quite a let down in terms of crowd and noise, but the journey up, and the views…it was one of the most challenging and scary things I’ve ever done.

The whole journey took us about 5.5 hours up and down. We came back down via the real Pyg Track (Nasty wanted to go back through Crib Goch again, I said he is welcome to do it, but I am going home alive, damn it!) and at the bottom, I spotted this sign at the start of the trail that I didn’t see going up. There it says, “The path up Crib Goch is extremely dangerous and should not be attempted by novice walkers.”

I can count the number of times I’ve gone walking/scrambling on the fingers of one hand. Reading up on Crib Goch once we got home, I realise how dangerous it is considered to be and how many accidents and fatalities have occurred on that ridge.

While we were up there, Nasty spotted a plaque on the ridge laid in memory of someone who died crossing it. Good thing he didn’t tell me about it until we’d gotten down. If I’d known all this before we went , I wouldn’t have done it.

But in a way, I’m glad I didn’t. I was terrified and petrified and on the verge of tears, but I crossed it and am immensely proud of myself. Will I do it again? Probably not. I still don’t know how I did it, but I’m happy I did.

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56 thoughts on “Snowdon: Don’t read this if you have a fear of heights and plan to go via Crib Goch

  1. Wow Dora, that’s impressive, doing something that scares you that much! Good for you! I’ve been to that area of Wales so mny times, but never walking, we always go climbing, and I’m dying to do some hikes there, I love that area of North Wales so much, it’s stunning. I’m gonna persuade the BFG to walk up MT Snowdon, but perhaps via an easier route!

  2. Yeah, we wanted to do some climbing on the second day, but it was so last minute and we couldn’t find anywhere that would do a one day climb activity-thingamajig. (We don’t have our own ropes and such…)

    Yeah, do go up Snowdon! Take the Pyg Track! Just don’t turn right at the fork and go up the ridge…..unless it’s what you want to do though! Nasty thought it was brilliant, so you guys might like the challenge too. I just can’t deal with heights unfortunately….

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  4. JUST DONE CRIB GOCH AND WENT BACK THE SAME WAY ONCE WE REACHED SNOWDON WOULD NEVER GO BACK FROM SNOWDON VIA CRIB GOCH WAS EVEN MORE SCARY MADE MY HEART BEAT A FEW TIMES LOL

    • I’m glad you found it helpful Rachel!

      I wanted to say “just get him on and he’ll have to get going coz there’s no turning back!” but I think it’s much nicer if you have someone that’s supporting and encouraging if you’re not great with heights! ;) Good luck!

  5. Did Crib Goch to Snowdon today, must say I knew it was notoriously steep before going up but wow! No video or photo can prepare you for what you’re confronted with it was terrifying! What kept me going was knowing the route back is impossible, so it was either climb and get off the ridge or have a panic attack and maybe die!

  6. i did crib goch in may, what a spectacular place, even climbed up and over the pinnacles and i did no previous prep, was a tough day as i did the horseshoe but great excitement.

    • I did the horseshoe when I was ten with my dad. luckily it was a bit foggy so sometimes couldn’t see the drop. it is certainly spectacular. am now 13 an would love to do it again. my dad and I are in the area soon and may doo it again. great walk and would recommend it if you are certain of your abilities and don’t take anyone up who you don’t trust is capable, especially if they are young like I was and still am.

  7. Very true prospective of what your going to be in for if you decide to do Crib Goch. No pictures or videos will prepare you for the intensity for a bad weather day like i encountered, all together very fun! Just stay focused and stick to the left side of the ridge if your not confident. Well worth doing!
    P.S if you feel the wind pick up, duck for cover! Wait for it to pass, shouldnt be long but the winds are very strong at that height so – safety first!

  8. In about 2005 I climbed it with a small party not knowing what we were up for. We were 2/3rds complete and came down 20-30m from the ridge when I heard a loud thump above and saw a large body tumbling towards us. He hit a large boulder 3-4m above us, which slowed him and beyond our ridge, it was pretty much a non-stop fall to the bottom. Instinctively, we braced ourselves and somehow managed to ‘tackle’ his body onto our ridge. He lay for quite a while and we gave him water and chocolate and bandaged up a few scrapes, particularly a finger (which may have had the top missing). But, miraculously, he seemed mostly okay. He decided to get up and keep going or he thought he would stop altogether and need a chopper. So off he went and we never saw him again so presumed he got off the mountain okay. He was more experienced than us and wanted to get moving to safety and for some medical treatment. He was a large welshman of about 30 at the time and probably all of 90plus kilos. I would love to know how he fared afterwards.

  9. Crib Goch – a very adventurous way to ascend Snowdon. Have done Horseshoe five times, mostly in good conditions. On one ascent in misty / light rain, visibility was very poor.
    Met up with a lone walker, both of us decided to descend awkward terrain to Pyg Track – not too far from the zig zags. Once onto final ridge to Snowdon – summited and we looked towards Crib Goch black clouds were over the arête!!

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  11. Hi there! I could have written that myself! I, too traversed that nasty ridge like a lamb to the slaughter, talked into it by my boyfriend. I was sooo naïve. He reckoned, once i’d scrambled up onto the ridge and didn’t like the look of it, then I could just turn round and climb down it (err, I think not), there is no escape once up there. I cried and felt true fear, I hyperventilated and was nearly sick, Even now, I have nightmares about it. But do you know what, I am so proud of myself for doing it, it is the bravest (and stupidest) thing I have ever done. I love watching peoples faces in amazement when I drop it into the conversation that I have crossed crib goch. Good on you for sharing your story, you brave soul sister.

    • Hahaha.I like the “lamb to slaughter” bit. I wish I thought of that!

      Yes, I share your sentiments completely. It was crazy but I’m also very happy with myself for getting through it.

      If nothing, I hope everyone’s comments here really put into perspective for him for what I endured since he thinks it was a piece of cake. Ha!

    • I’m not sure if I would’ve done this if I knew what I was in for.

      But at the same time, I don’t think I would’ve appreciated how scary this route it just by looking at photos.

      I hope your boyfriend made it there and back and had lots of fun? Would be interesting to hear what he thought of it!

  12. My boyfriend has sent me this article to read because he is attempting Crib Goch tomorrow and he knows I am very frightened something awful will happen to him. He thinks it is funny that I am so scared. Why? People have died up there. Even in good weather conditions it is dangerous. One false move, and you could twist your ankle at the very least. Then what? You need rescuing, that’s what! We have done all the major routes up Snowdon together. I would NEVER attempt this. It is for rock climbers, not walkers! What is wrong with sticking to other beautiful (and challenging) routes?

  13. My son who is 11 did it on 11.08.13.
    He was great listened to what I had to say and it was brilliant,he has now done Snowdon all all routes from Peny Pass.
    I had all correct equipment less ropes and hats and the weather was just about ok.
    Don’t attempt in bad weather if with your taking a young one up there.
    I’m so proud my son did it and we then went on to complete the horse shoe in under 6 and a half hours

  14. Amazing blog, thanks for the great read. Glad you survived, it must have been terrifying and exhilarating in the same second! We did part of the relatively easy Miners Track last week with our young children as I want them to get acclimatized to the idea and concept of mountain walking, and went as far as Llyn Llydaw and back. The car parking being absolutely crazy in terms of cost and useage. I have in the past done the Pyg Track, Llanberis twice and part of the Rhyd Ddu with the children. The scree and zig zags at the last part of the Miners/Pyg is why we didnt take the children any further up, unless it has changed in the past 20 years its a no no for anyone who isnt wearing proper footwear or who has a fear of heights. I get vertigo which is not the same so I really admire you for tackling and reaching the end of Crib Goch, very well done :-)

  15. I have had the pleasure of scrambling across the “Red Ridge”. A couple of times when in the army. I was 25 and didn’t have enough brain cells to understand fear. And once when I was was 46. My son was 15 at the time and we went to Snownonia quite often to hike, camp and climb. And also mountain bike. I did the usual dad bit when we crossed Crib Goch and said to my son “don’t tell your mother”. We also jumped across “Adam and Eve”. Giving my son the same instruction. I’m 62 now and just last night showed my wife a Utube video of Crib Goch. I love Snownonia and like to think I could still go over the “Ridge”

    • That is great! I love stories of families spending time in the mountains. And the “don’t tell your mother” bit is just classic. I hope your wife has given her retrospective approval after…umm…watching the video? Or maybe not, depending on the video. :)

      > Date: Thu, 22 Aug 2013 18:24:04 +0000 > To: dorasyl@hotmail.com >

  16. I had exactly the same experience and can identify with everything you’ve said here. I think I would have cried, had I not been with trained mountain guides. I’d say I spent most of the time thinking “I just want to get across here alive”.

    • As terrible as it felt at the time, I have to say, not being able to think of anything else other than surviving was liberating – in that nothing else mattered anymore, and all the comparatively petty worries that plagued me become inconsequential.

      (Or, you can also say, my daily petty worries were solved out of the way by a massive intense fear! So in another way, it’s not too much better?!)

      > Date: Sat, 24 Aug 2013 23:20:07 +0000 > To: dorasyl@hotmail.com >

  17. Watched the vid doing some research for a trip along Crib Goch in October. What a great feat and you’ve set it to one of the greatest songs ever – very appropriate ;)

  18. Wow! What an experience! Came across your blog as me and a group of friends have just done the exact same route in horrible weather conditions. Simon, one of the guys I did it with, also wrote a blog post about our experience. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t get to the top as the weather was too bad and it was getting dark.

    A different version of events with three equally nervous people can be found here: http://www.pro-fit21.com/678/

    Despite the fear, I am glad I did it and wouldn’t change the experience we had for the world.

    Rachael

  19. I am in love with this Welsh lady! It was rather a quick decision without any consideration of the fact that we, a group of 3, had never done such activity before.  After a while we were standing frozen thinking whether to go ahead or turn back.  We decided to take the challenge.   We loved it so much that only after a month in Jun 13 we found ourselves on the ridge again.The sheer beauty and breathtaking views of it is worth seeing.  It’s worth the efforts. We will definitely do it again in the coming summer and Ben Nevis is next.
    Check our youtube video.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kxj6pBuEzM&feature=youtube_gdata_playerSent fro

  20. Wow – well done! My brother in law and I walked up and down Snowdon a few weeks ago. It was wonderful. We took the Pyg Track and kept to the left trail. After seeing your blog I’m delighted we did! We came down the Snowdon Ranger which gives a completely different perspective of the mountain. I blogged some photos here in case you and your readers are interested.

    http://stopdoingdumbthingstocustomers.com/fun/ups-and-downs/

    Cheers – Doug

  21. Enjoyed reading this blog! I will be taking on Crib Goch this Thursday on my first climb of Snowdon. I’m not amazing with exposure but however I think this an opportunity I cannot give up if the weather stays. The only challenge I will have is mentally, physically I’m more than capable. I’m 22 and I visit the gym 5-6 times a week, let’s just hope I don’t have a nervous breakdown from the exposure. I’ll post how it goes, wish me luck!

    • Good luck! From what you mentioned, I’m sure you’re more than physically able. As for the mental aspect – no matter what happens, I’m sure you won’t regret it. I was scared to death but I’m 100% glad I did it. :)

      Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2014 23:13:43 +0000 To: dorasyl@hotmail.com

  22. Me and my girlfriend tackled this route on Tuesday. Neither of us realised it would be quite so challenging and scary, and we gained a companion on the way who was trying to come back down the way we came up, before I said to him I didn’t think that was a good idea.

    We did manage to find a shortcut down to the main Pyg track after the first ridge walk, around the left hand side of the second pinnacle. Unfortunately didn’t seem to be a proper path so maybe not the safest route (after about twenty minutes or so we had to start making it up as we went along) but we were just eager to avoid another ridge walk.

    A very exciting experience, even if we did cheat a little.

  23. Me, my brother and 12 year old niece did the Crib on Thursday the 9th of April on a perfect sunny windless clear day.
    Reached the top of Snowdon along the Pyg track with no intention of going up or down the Crib Goch but we looked down at it and thought “what the hell,,lets go” and boy am i glad i did, it was the best experience ever. Two hours of total fun is all i can say! and my niece absolutely loved the experience. 100 times better and scarier than Striding Edge. I would imagine going up it is a lot easier because youre climbing uphill most of the time,whereas coming down you are going backwards most of the time.
    Give it a go! but be careful and respect it totally!

  24. Hi, Great post! I’ve also done the route. I was taken up by a friend when there was still snow around and a real heavy mist in the air. We saw other people up there as inexperienced as we were and one guy was really panicking, pretty much laughing hysterically to himself, quite scary really. So my advice to people would be to be fully prepared beforehand. I had no previous knowledge of the route and no idea what to expect! Long story short I nearly shit my pants too! :D

    Btw I have a similar blog to your own so if you want to exchange backlinks and what not please contact me.

  25. Stumbled upon your blog on Crib Goch via a random google search and really enjoyed it as it was a good reminder of exactly how I felt when I was risking my life this weekend. I have never really scrambled and wish I had read your blog before my trip so I was better prepared. Or perhaps, it could have put me right off attempting it! I am now feeling pain in every single muscle in my both my legs, especially those I didn’t even know existed! I enjoy taking weekend trips out of London and this trip was definitely a highlight of the year! Looking forward to more posts on your adventures!

  26. Hi nice blog I just got home tonight from snowdon and climbing crib goch and totally agree I’d watched videos before going but nothing can prepare you for how terrifying it actually is we did it in fog rain and high winds..safe to say I’ll only do it the once lol I tried to do it in July too but bad weather made me wimp out so was more determined this time to do it in any weather conditions I’m new to climbing and very inexperienced so would recommend if your going to do it try gain some experience first as one mistake will cost you your life.

  27. Really enjoyed reading this – felt the fear and humour (you need it!) Just back from snowdon my first climb and I am hooked but have a healthy respect now for the weather, particularly wind speed!

  28. I too missed the sign when really I meant to ascend via the Pyg track, by half way my calf muscles and thighs were ready to burst but there is no turning back, the mist and rain descended so there were no spectacular views and upon reaching the Trig point on Snowdon the wind was that strong I thought that I would be blown off the side. In all it took me 4 1/2 hours there and back via the Pyg track.

  29. Wow amazing..
    I have just done a trek of Snowdon on the 24th September… We went up the pyg track and down the miners path…
    It took us 10 hours all together!! We didn’t even make it to the summit though we could see it.. We got to the top of the Pyg Track with an amazing guide called Rhys(sp).. Anybody know of him?! Been trying to find him via social media to say a big thank you..
    We were battered by 60-65mph winds and torrential rain on the way down… Which made the decent more scary and so long!! Loved it though and was an amazing experience

  30. We climbed Snowdon via the Pyg Track and descended via the Llanberis Path. We picked a beautiful weekend at the end of August 2017 and it really was a day to remember. The only downside was the number of people also enjoying the climb on the same day. But what can we really expect on a bank holiday weekend the weekend prior to the schools going back. That said, we met some great people and had a truly memorable day.

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