The Only Way Is Up: How Climbing Mount Snowdon Changed My Outlook On Life


Photo: Getty

...Down, left, and right.

Earlier this week I set off on a little adventure to the top of the world (well Wales) I’d decided that despite having Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), I was going to make my way to Wales and climb Mount Snowdon. No excuses. oh, and I was doing the ascent alone. Yeah, It seemed like a great idea at the time.

Anyone who knows me knows that I can fall over whilst sitting down. If you look up ‘Accident Prone’ in the dictionary, I’ll be mentioned at some point. Up until 2 weeks ago i was walking with crutches after a sleep walking incident ended me in hospital with soft tissue damage to the bottom of my foot!

Climbing Mount Snowdon


My Mum and Auntie dropped me off in Llanberis and off I took on my little adventure. I’d done all my research and I knew what to expect. Well I thought i did.

The first 30-45 minutes was up hill in quite a steep climb. After I managed that part I sat on a rock and I cried. I looked around me, not a soul in sight at this point, and I didn’t know what to do. My body hurt, my head hurt and my heart felt like it wanted to vacate my body via my chest. I still had over 3 hour climbing to do, PLUS I had to get back down.

I knew if I turned back now, I would catch my family before they headed off on the train to the summit. Believe me when I say that for a strong willed person but right then I was tempted to turn back.

This made me feel all sorts of emotions, but my stubbornness soon took over and off I went. By the time I hit halfway I was on a rock crying again. I didn’t feel lonely any more because people and dogs were roaming about, plus the odd sheep would bleat encouragement.

Seriously, it made me laugh. They probably wanted me gone but when you’re alone and in pain you’ll grasp at anything for encouragement.

At this point I started to think about how my journey up Snowdon was a little like life and business. It made me realise that even with hours of research and some of the best laid plans, I didn’t actually have a clue what was going on and where I was going.

I didn’t know if I was still on the right path and to be fair I wasn’t even sure if I was heading up to the right peak. Just like life and business! You can plan, you can research, you can sit there with spreadsheets but until you actually get moving you won’t know what is going to happen.

Life’s for living, work is for doing. Get the basics under control and go out and give it your best shot.

You’re about to go up in the world, but it’s not going to be easy…


I’m almost ¾ of the way up and i’m standing looking at, what I was told, was called ‘The Stairway to Heaven’. I’m telling you now, this was wrong. I felt like I was going to hell and was being punished for the privilege.

The stones are uneven and move, there is slate sticking out of the ground and it feels like you’re walking/climbing for an eternity. During my pathway to hell i decided to stop and catch my breath. It was only when I stopped and looked behind me that i realised what I was missing. The view was so beautiful it almost looked fake. The valley, the mountains, the lake. Pictures do not do it justice.

I thinking again, how many of us bury our heads into day to day tasks at home or work and forget to look up and around? How many of us have not stopped to smell the roses or see our children take their first steps? I was so set on hitting my destination goal and getting the job at hand complete, I completely forgot to take in the experience.

At the top of the staircase the train to the summit crossed Llanberis Path. As I looked up at the train plodding along with all it’s passengers I saw two familiar faces waving back at me. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so pleased to see my Mum and Auntie in all my life. It gave me a little boost and I was off again.

If you’re thinking about climbing Snowdon, please don’t let this put you off! It really will be one of the greatest things you ever do and bare in mind I am doing this with AS, so I do have to adapt to things slightly different.

What do clouds taste like?

On the ascent one of the things I noticed most were the clouds. I knew at some point I would literally be walking on a cloud or to be more accurate - through a cloud. That moment came and I literally stopped in amazement. For in front of me, plodding along was what can only be described as visible nothingness.

You can literally see a cloud feet in front of you, looking all fluffy and moving along like it owns the place but when you walk into it, apart from the temperature drop there isn’t much to write home about.

Don’t get me wrong, It was an amazing experience. I’m not sure I know many people who have walked through a cloud but I can sadly report that 1) It isn’t like walking through candy floss/cotton candy 2) There were no angels sitting up there 3) Unicorns definitely didn’t make clouds by farting. (That should answer all previously asked questions from friends/family)

After the clouds came the mountain top fog. When I made it to the summit I could barely see 5 foot in front of me. The views I’d worked so hard to see were gone and weather reports didn’t show any sign of the fog letting go of its grip to the top.

When I started climbing it was a lovely warm day. The sun was shining and there was a lovely breeze. I set off in a vest and I was now standing 5 miles along and 1,087m above where I started in a vest, jumper and wind/waterproof jacket in 5 degree temperatures. What a difference a few hours really makes.

All in all, I must have spent 30 seconds standing at the very top. 30 seconds reward for all I’d just put myself through. 30 seconds that will change my outlook on life. 30 seconds that will stay with me forever. I’ll forget the pain, the bruises. But those 30 seconds will stay with me forever.


Don’t forget to subscribe/like/follow me for the next instalment of my Snowdon adventure. The Descent. It’s a hair raiser!

Whilst you’re waiting for the next instalment, why not plan your next adventure. Something that makes you feel alive. I guarantee you’re more capable of things than you give yourself credit for.

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