I have led the Welsh 3000’s several times and it is very demanding, physically and mentally. That being said, it is also extremely rewarding. With no driving between mountains, spectacular views and some of the best climbs and scrambles in the UK, it makes for one of the best routes and challenges you can take on.
The distance from the top of the first peak (Snowdon) to the last peak (Foel Fras) is around 38 km. This does not include the climb up to the Summit of Snowdon and the trek down from the last peak Foel Fras, which rounds the total accumulative overall distance to around 54km. The total height gain is around 15,000ft.
I arrived at Abergwyngregyn which would be my finish point at around 2100 Thursday 30th July after work and a 5hr drive. Parked up, prepared my kit, water, food and waited for my taxi to Llanberis. At the Llyn Ogwen Lake, which is between Tryfan and Pen yr Ole Wen on the route, I had cached 1.5ltr of water, sour wine gums and a substantial meal for myself.
2130 Thursday - I made my way up the up to the start point (The summit of Snowdon) from Llanberis. I took the Llanberis path, which is a longer but more gradual route to the summit. It took around 2hrs at a nice easy going pace to conserve energy.
The Snowdon Massif
1. Snowdon, 3559ft (1085m)
2. Crib y Ddysgl, 3494ft
3. Crib Goch, 3028ft
START 0000 Friday - The reason for starting at this time was because of the temperatures in the day and time constraints Friday. With close to a full moon, clear skies and warm weather, I started from the summit of Snowdon and made my way quickly towards the second summit Garnedd Ugain, and then on to Crib Goch,
0045 - Summit of Crib Goch (Summit 3/15). This is a much more technical route where you will need to navigate a knife-edged ridgeline/arete with great care. I made good time as I find this type of terrain very easy to cover. Yes it was dark, but with great visibility, packing light, no one around and dry conditions under foot, it made it a very enjoyable experience with the summit of Snowdon to the end of Crib taking no longer than 45minutes.
Now came the more demanding part of the route - The descent into Nant Peris. The moon had all but set at this point. A good head torch and knowledge of the route and area are critical in any weather conditions in the dark. Once you reach the end of the ridge, you will see a faintly marked decent off the left side into the valley below. There is no straight-forward path leading down to the road.
4. Elidir Fawr, 3031ft
5. Y Garn, 3106ft
6. Glyder Fawr, 3284ft
7. Glyder Fach, 3261ft
8. Tryfan, 3011ft (918 m)
0300 - Summit of Elidir Fawr (Summit 4/15). From the top of Crib Goch to the summit of Elidir Fawr, there is a big descent with difficult terrain under foot and although the route up is mainly pathed it should not be taken lightly. This sucked 2hrs and 15minutes out of my time. But I was happy with the summit of Snowdon to Elidir Fawr only taking a total of 3hrs in the dark. The Glider Section is the hardest section on the Welsh 3000s.
With small break at the summit to catch my breath and to take on water and sour wine gums, I made my way in the dark to Y Garn which contours beneath Foel Goch and continues to the summit. Once at the top of Y Garn, I descend towards lake Llyn y Cwn and then begin the scree ascent towards Glyder Fawr with walking poles in the dead of the night. I saw a couple of head torches slowly making there way across Crib Goch and up Elidir Fawr but apart from that It was deadly quiet. I haven’t got many photos on this part of the challenge due to it being dark and because I was trying to make good time.
It was great to get to the top of Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach in quick secession as the sun was rising in good weather. From previous experience this route can be very challenging in difficult weather conditions and low visibility as the path is not clearly marked.
Now that the sun was up and visibility was very good, I could take in the spectacular sunrise and views of Tryfan, Pen yr Ole Wen and Llyn Ogwen Lake! I would say the hardest part of this challenge for me on that day was the descent down a steep ankle breaking scree section to the right of Bristly Ridge. You have to be so careful down this stretch of the route but it was made more difficult for myself because I was using trainers instead of boots, a choice that I had consciously made.
0620 - Summit of Tryfan (Summit 8/15) - Tryfan is one of the most famous and recognisable peaks in Britain. You will need to be careful to take the right line but once you reach the summit it is all worth it! There is two large rocks often referred to as Adam & Eve and it is a ritual to jump from one the other! The photo below is of myself taking on this ritual before making my
way back down towards Llyn Ogwen Lake.
The descent towards Ogwen takes time and this is when fatigue can settle in. Once I got to the base of Pen yr Ole Wen I had a main meal, picked up supplies, hydrated, had a quick wash in the river, change of socks, applied sun cream and within 30 minutes I was refreshed, full of energy and making my way up the long climb to the summit of Pen yr Ole Wen!
9. Pen yr Ole Wen, 3208ft
10. Carnedd Dafydd, 3425ft
11. Carnedd Llewelyn, 3490ft
12. Yr Elen, 3156ft
13. Foel Grach, 3202ft
14. Garnedd Uchaf, 3038ft
15. Foel-fras, 3090ft
The Carnedd section is the longest section, but has the least amount of ascent. I didn’t take the easiest route up because its a bit boring and less challenging. I also met some great people on the route up to have a chat with.
0900 Summit of Pen yr Ole wen (Summit 9/15)
The next section is relatively flat towards Carnedd Dafydd. After this, you follow the ridgeline around towards Carnedd Llewelyn. Before the summit path of Carnedd Llewelyn, there is a single path track that contours around towards Yr Elen. Here, you can save time and energy going this way instead of summiting Carnedd Llewleyn first because you’ll have to backtrack that way when it comes to following the track towards Foel Grach. Once you're heading towards Foel Grach you have an easy hike linking Foel Grach, Garnedd Uchaf.
1200 Summit of Foel-Fras. (Summit 15/15) Foel-Fras has a trig point which signifies the end of the Welsh 3000s. 12hr to complete this challenge and I am looking forward to giving this another solo attempt in the winter!!
I had left the car down at Abergwyngregyn which is around a 2hr hike from the summit of Foel Fras. There is also a river that runs down the route with water falls and pools. I had a nice dunk in one of the deep pools to have a wash and refresh before jumping back in to the car for a 6hr drive back home!
This is a big step up from doing the Yorkshire Dales 3 peaks or the National 3 peak challenge. It’s only suitable for very fit and experienced mountain walkers. You will need to be fit and not just fit but hill fit. If you are not familiar with the route and are not on the mountains on a regular basis I would strongly advice investing in an organised challenge led by a qualified Mountain Leader. Wilderness Navigators organise the Welsh 3000’s a couple of times a year so if you are interest please email us on email@example.com It is also common to take the Welsh 3000's on as a multi day trek.
Start as early as possible, I would suggest leaving the summit of Snowdon around 4am July/August. Take the easiest route up Snowdon which is the Llanberis path.
Have a plan and stick to it. Taking breaks is essential but don’t let the time slip away. 5-10min here and there will quickly add up and you may miss the 24hr challenge window. Also breaking for too long will cause your legs to stiffen and ache.
This challenge is often underestimated - you need to be very fit to walk it in 24 hours. Times below 12 hours (first peak to final peak) are sometimes achieved by exceptionally fit walkers. For fellrunners, the record stands at an unbelievable 4 hours 20 minutes, or three times in 22 hours 49 minutes!