You don’t have to travel to the Himalaya to climb the equivalent height of the world’s highest mountain. Equally, you don’t have to tramp up Snowdon’s 1,000 metres nine times to reach Everest’s 8,848 metre- peak.
We’ve worked out walking routes up 12 of Snowdonia’s best peaks – from starting point to summit and back – that once you’ve completed, you’ll be able to say you’ve walked up Everest, and down again. So hitch your pack, grab your map, take a deep breath, and let’s go!
1. Moel Hebog (782m) from Beddgelert, 750m ascent
Starting from Beddgelert village, cross the Welsh Highland Railway behind the Royal Goat Hotel, walk along the platform to the far end and follow the clear path up towards Hebog’s higher cliffs. It’s possible (but not easy) to make a loop of this walk by following the peaks north to Moel y Ogof and Moel Lefn before descending into and through Beddgelert Forest.
2. Y Garn (947m) from Ogwen Cottage, 650m ascent
Y Garn’s a great walk from Ogwen Cottage. Walk up via Devil’s Kitchen from the far end of Llyn Idwal or keep to the eastern edge of the lake (the edge nearest the road) and follow the obvious, airy ridge path to the summit. As Ogwen is already 300m above sea level, the ascent is not as far as you think. Thankfully, the views of Snowdonia’s highest peaks are wonderful.
Well done! Only two peaks climbed but you’re already level with Kathmandu (1,400m), the city you’d likely fly into if you were climbing Everest for real.
3. Foel Grach (976m) from Llyn Eigiau, 606m ascent
Llyn Eigiau doesn’t have the postcard-prettiness of Crafnant and Geirionnydd lakes and it’s a long singletrack drive to get there. The good news is, there’s a small car park and layby at the end. This makes a great starting point for walks into the high Carneddau, including Foel Grach. Follow the track past the lake, cross the river and stay on the track as far as the disused mine in Cwm Eigiau. Swing north and follow the path all the way to Foel Grach’s summit. Retrace your steps as far as the flattish area of Gledrfordd then descend north to pick up the track by Melyn Llyn and follow this track back to the car park.
4. Carnedd Dafydd (1,044m) from Ogwen Cottage, 750m ascent
Just east of Tryfan’s A5 car parks, take the path from Glan Dena, follow the river (Afon Lloer) north and then at Clogwyn Mawr – before you get as far as the lake, follow the steep, craggy path (some occasional, easy scrambling required) west towards Pen yr Ole Wen’s summit. The clear ridge then takes you to Carnedd Dafydd. There’s no easy loop without including Llewelyn as well. If that’s not on your agenda, it’s best to retrace your steps back to the A5.
5. Carnedd Llewelyn (1,064m) from Helyg (A5), 900m ascent
This route follows a terrific ridge via Y Braich to Pen yr Helgi Ddu, then along Bwlch Eryl Farchog before the final steep ascent to Llewelyn. You can vary the return by descending from the Bwlch to Ffynnon Llugwy reservoir and then following the service road back down to the A5.
Congratulations! You’ve now climbed as high as Lhasa, at 3,656m the highest city in the Himalaya. You’re just 100m short of the Everest View Hotel, where rooms come equipped with oxygen supplies!
6. Glyder Fawr (1,001m) from Ogwen Cottage, 700m ascent
Few people climb Glyder Fawr without continuing onto the incredible granite-splintered summit of Glyder Fach. For the purposes of our Everest climb, though, you need to conquer both summits separately. The usual route up (or down) Fawr is via Devil’s Kitchen and then a steep scree climb to the summit. For scramblers, tacking Y Gribin ridge brings you out halfway between Fawr and Fach peaks.
7. Glyder Fach (994m) from Pen-y-Gwyrd, 715m ascent
Snowdon isn’t the only mountain with a Miner’s Track. Near to the Pen-y-Gwyrd Hotel is another Miner’s Track that north east before veering north west as it makes a relatively easy if relentless climb to Glyder Fach. Ironically, this route involves a greater ascent to the Glyders’ lower peak. There’s not much scope for a circular walk here, but the views of Snowdon will compensate as you make your return.
8. Tryfan (917m) from Ogwen Cottage, 617m ascent
Tryfan’s north ridge rises high above the A5. This proximity to the road and the mountain’s spectacular, scramble-filled ascent makes it one of the most popular mountain routes in Wales. About two-thirds of the way up it becomes a Grade 1 scramble. You can virtually avoid the scramble by approaching the summit from the south, walking in via Llyn Bochlwyd to Bwlch Tryfan.
9. Elidir Fawr (924m) from Deiniolen, 698m ascent
Quarry-scarred Elidir Fawr is a much more enticing hiking prospect from Deiniolen and via the service road leading up to Marchlyn Mawr reservoir. From there you can keep left of the dam and pick your way up the scree to the summit. Even better is to make a circuit, taking in Carnedd y Filiast and Mynydd Perfedd, with the easy yet spectacular ridge linking the latter with Elidir Fawr a highlight.
10. Yr Elen (962m) from Gerlan, 710m ascent
Gerlan, the village on the hill above Bethesda, is a great starting point for quieter hikes into the Carneddau. Be warned that there is a river crossing to make, so best avoid this walk after heavy or sustained rainfall. Follow the Afon Llafar (so it’s on your left) until you can cross (you may need to walk in as far as Cwmglas Bach). Then walk north east and uphill towards the obvious summit or Yr Elen.
11. Pen yr Ole Wen (978m) from Braichmelyn, 730m ascent
Instead of climbing this mountain from Ogwen, start in the A5 layby opposite Ogwen Bank and walk through the woods following a public right of way out onto the hill and as far as sheepfolds above Cefn yr Orsedd (almost directly above the Life Foundation Centre on the A5). Then instead of following the path back down to the A5, keep to the high ridge (Braich Ty Du) for an easy(ish) but enjoyable tromp to the summit of Pen yr Ole Wen. The path is very indistinct so avoid this route in poor weather.
12. Snowdon (1,085m) via the Watkin Path (1,032m)
The highest single ascent in Snowdonia happens to be one of the best, taking in waterfalls, slate mines, history and of course spectacular scenery and terrain. If you don’t fancy up-and-down then an alternative route is via the so-called South Ridge (Allt Meanderyn from Bwlch Main) to the Bwlch and then along an obvious path to Cwm Llan.
Once you’ve touched Snowdon’s trig pillar, congratulate yourself. Even the great Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing Norgay – who trained for their famous Everest ascent in Snowdonia – didn’t scale the world’s highest mountain from sea level. Now there’s a thought!