There are 15 mountains in Wales that are over 3000 feet in height. At some point a mountaineer decided to link all of those peaks and turn it into one route. The Welsh 3000s has become a renowned mountain challenge that is extremely testing, mainly due to its long distance and gruelling ascents.
Earlier this year I attempted to hike the Welsh 3000s but couldn’t manage it all in one day, so spread the hike over two days. This left me a little bitter that I wasn’t able to complete the route in one day, wanting to try it again.
Typical Welsh Weather
We set off up Snowdon in the evening, hoping to get a good night’s sleep on the summit. The idea was that by already being up Snowdon we wouldn’t have to climb the mountain in the early hours of the morning. Unfortunately that wasn’t really the case, since it was blowing an absolute gale on the summit. Since we wanted to keep the weight of our gear to a minimum, all I brought with me was a 2 man tarp, for three of us. This proved to be a slight underestimation of summit conditions. We had to pitch the tarp and place rocks on the perimeter of the tent to reduce wind getting under the fly. Overall it was a pretty awful night, and we all struggled to get any sleep at all. Probably not the best way to start the 3000s!
Due to it being dangerously windy and wet, we decided not to complete the ridge after crib goch. Instead we took a 20km detour that took us through the outskirts of llanberis. This wasn’t ideal but crib goch wouldn’t have been safe given the conditions. A truly awful start considering we were about 2 hours behind schedule and already a little exhausted.
As we started to climb the hellish Elidir Fawr the sun started to come out, and the previously clouded peaks revealed themselves. We could start to see the route taking shape ahead of us, with many peaks scattered in the distance.
The rays of sunshine warmed our cold bodies and upon reaching the summit of Elidir Fawr we has started to work up quite a sweat.
Getting to the Glyders provided a change in terrain that offered epic rock formations and scattered peaks. We were starting to tick off more peaks as we made our way past Glyder Fawr and towards Tryfan.
The Night Slog
We started up Pen Yr Ole Wen as the sun was setting. The sky transformed from a brilliant blue to fiery red, then finally to a pastel hue. It was at this point in the trip that we understood the overwhelming task of finishing the 3000s in a day. We were only about halfway through the route as the crow flies, but already entering into the night. It was daunting, but night hiking is something we’d become quite accustomed to.
As we reared the summit scramble of Pen Yr Ole Wen, a couple of mountain guides were making their way down the mountain. “You better not be doing the 3000s,” one proclaimed as I got closer. “Yes we are, and yes I know we’re a bit late” I replied, rather confidently. They proceeded to explain that not only were we crazy for attempting the 3000s, but also that there was no way we’d finish. They both told tales of previous 3000s attempts, that ended in crying, and soaking wet disasters. They told us that the path was patchy in places, boggy in others and you’d be mad to attempt to walk it in the dark. Luckily we are a little mad, so we were the perfect candidates to hike the rest of the route. They wished us well and told us we wouldn’t make it. I don’t think I’ve ever been so motivated to prove someone wrong.
Hiking into the night was a blur. It was a mindless slog that seemed to go on and on. The 5 hours estimation from the mountain guides ended up being fairly accurate. We reached Foel-Fras, the final peak at some crazy hour past midnight. – Absolutely broken. The stars glistened above us, lighting our way back to the car. The milky way searing through the night sky was a welcome reward, but all we wanted at that moment was to sleep.
We arrived back at the car and immediately collapsed into our sleeping bags. Considering we walked so far the fact we couldn’t be bothered to pitch the tent might be a little surprising. I ended up in a bivy bag next to the car whilst the other two slept in the car. Not the most comfortable night’s sleep in history, but frankly we could’ve slept anywhere.
In retrospect we made some slightly questionable decisions regarding setting off from Snowdon when the weather was so harsh, as well as adding a 20km detour. That didn’t change the mammoth mountain day we experienced. 85,000 steps and 60km later we completed the Welsh 3000s.
Thanks for reading,