Through wind and rain: The Snowdon Challenge

 

I wake up at 4.45am, too tired to channel any excitement just yet. I am barely ever an early morning person, so made the wise decision to prepare everything the night before. I had all of my clothes, and hiking boots laid out. I had even fried and boxed up samosas and spring rolls at 10pm (true Indian).

The first thing I do is make tea and fried eggs. I am running so late, but decide that my breakfast (and sanity) is the most important thing. It’s ten past 5, and I still need to do wudhu, pray fajr, get ready, and be out by quarter past. My husband and I originally decided to walk to the meeting point, as it’s only down the road. But as time wasn’t on our side, I end up driving down. At 25 past 5, I am still putting on my shoes, whilst gulping down my cuppa tea. The fried eggs and husband’s cuppa remain sad and unloved on the kitchen work top.

We manage to get to the Interpal meeting point in time, and I pray my fajr there. Let me just tell you how difficult it is to do sujud in fleece, and zipped up waterproof jacket, with my phone in the pocket (painful stabbing). At about 5.45am, we leave, eleven potential hikers, plus the driver, ready for Wales.

I sleep for most of the journey. We have a service break somewhere near Cheshire, and I sleep again until we reach Wales. The weather is dull and rainy, but the sea still looks breathtaking. Despite the constant tip tapping, I am super excited now. The mountains have started to show themselves, hiding the summits behind a thick fog. As daunting as they look, I cannot wait to hike up the highest mountain in Wales.

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After a long drive (about two and half hours), we finally reach the car park. Other coaches and minibuses have already arrived, from all over the UK. We’re bought together for briefing, and are told that anybody not wearing the correct hiking clothing will not be allowed to go up the mountain. I have hiking boots and a waterproof jacket. But my husband does not have the correct footwear, or clothing. He has to go and join a group who will take a walk on ground, around the villages and lake. This is my first disappointment. I really wanted him to climb with me, and now feel like I’ll be all alone. He considers sneaking in to the mountain hike, like other people did, but a guide explains the dangers of even attempting the climb without appropriate gear.

The weather is so severe, that anything but hiking boots will cause a lot of slipping. Add the wind speed, and the increasing cold at higher altitudes, and it will just be a miserable and dangerous journey.

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“You can’t go up without the appropriate gear”

 

I say goodbye to him and consign to climbing up myself. Somebody comes to check all of our clothing, and I am told that my trousers (tracksuit bottoms) are not appropriate, so I cannot climb. I had prepared so well, and hadn’t thought that my trousers would be inappropriate. What about my sponsors? I can feel the tears welling up, and really just want to cry.

Instead, I ask our group leader if she has spare waterproof trousers, and alhamdulillah she does! I’m back on the mountain hike.

***

The hike is already difficult, and it has barely started. I manage to push myself ahead, and join two people from my group.

My veil and hijab are soaking wet, despite zipping the waterproof all the way up, and tightening the hood. The ground is muddy, and slippery, but the hiking boots ensure that I manage to keep my balance.

I have climbed Snowdon before, but not in these conditions, and not on this track. This is extremely challenging. We walk over rocks, and through streams. There are patches of muddy grass, and ankle deep muddy puddles disguised as grass. By the time, we are a quarter way up the mountain, there’s soggy puddles in my boots, and my gloves are soaking wet.

The further up we go, the faster the wind gets. Even though we are constantly moving, I still feel a bitter cold all over my body.

We reach half way up the mountain and take a break.

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My brother said that I look like a roadman!

I eat my KitKat, and then start hiking again. The wind is really strong against my back, and it’s getting harder to walk. After about a minute of walking, we’re called back down to the halfway point. Walking back down is absolutely crazy. The wind is blowing directly into my face, causing tears to make my vision blurry. I almost slip a few times, and barely find my step.

It’s only a short way back down, and alhamdulillah, I get to the halfway point. The Mountain rescue guide breaks the news to us that we won’t be able to continue. There are some complaints, but mostly sighs of relief.

He explains that the wind is currently at 25mph, and will get to 40mph, as we progress. Along with the wet slippy, ground, and a path with a steep drop, it is too dangerous to continue. Some people are upset that they wouldn’t be able to complete their challenge, but I feel like I have already accomplished as much as I could.

If we were allowed to continue, I would have. But we have to turn back, and brace a tough walk back down.

I see people with incorrect footwear (who snuck in) slip many times, and understand completely why they were told not to climb.

The walk back down is completely worth it, with the views facing m whilst I walk. As I get lower down, the wind clears up, and I start skipping down the mountain, eager to get back to the warm minibus.

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View at the bottom of the mountain

***

The toilets are tiny, with two light-less cubicles to use. My feet are all soggy and as I’ve stopped walking, I can feel the full extent of the freezing cold water all over me. I need to use the bathroom, but my abaya is so soaked with water, I can’t even lift it.

I have to take off my abaya, and could not put it back on (because it was soaked through). Despite having loose clothing, it is uncomfortable to not be wearing an abaya. But alhamdulillah, my group in the minibus is majority female.

I take off the waterproof trousers, remove my shoes and change into dry socks. I huddle up inside the minibus, but cannot shake the cold.

Our guide had to accompany another group, who only started to climb the mountain when we got back down again. So, I stay huddled up, freezing, for over two hours, before we can set off back to Leicester. I only get up to make wudhu and pray.

As we all underestimated the weather, nobody brought spare clothing. Those who did, kept it in their backpack, so their change of clothes are soaked too.

Our guide finally returns and tells us that there is actually a tea room nearby, which we didn’t know about. My husband and a few others go to get tea. The first sip is simply bliss, and really warms me up.

Everyone settles in, and we drive back to Leicester.

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On the way home…

***

Not to anyone’s surprise, I fall seriously ill on Sunday, and sleep all day.

***

I am feeling a little better on Monday alhamdulillah. Despite the challenging weather and falling ill after, I would do the Snowdon challenge again. Maybe next time, I would only go in better weather, and ensure to bring a spare change of clothes. Preparation is key.

A big Jazakallah Khair to the two people from my group, who motivated me the entire way up, and kept a lookout for me. I don’t think I would have managed the hike without you. And to Interpal for organising this challenging, yet fantastic experience.

Visit https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/yusairah to sponsor my hike, and contribute to this worthy cause. 

 

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