The last post left me relaxing in my digs, trying to get some sleep, watching the clouds rolling on and off the mountains.
At approx 11:45 I arrived at 'Base Camp', ok - a car park in the village of Llanberis at the foot of the mountain, just as the guides were arriving and discussing the conditions.
Over the next 40 minutes, the fundraising climbers arrived and checked in with the CARE staff checking emergency details, kit and fundraising status (after all it costs a charity a lot of money to organise an event like this with each climber needing to reach their fund-raising target for it to be worthwhile).
CHECKING IN AT 'BASE CAMP', LLANBERIS, UK ON 15/05/201515/05/2015 at Snowdonia, Llanberis. The climbers check in with the CARE staff and guides in the village. Kit, fundrasing and emergency contacts are discussed. Picture by Julie Edwards
After a motivational speech and 'thank you' the climbers departed in teams at 10 minute intervals with the first leaving at about 1:10AM.
I was assigned to one of the largest groups at the rear of the climb. The route was to take us through a small wood to avoid the housing before joining the 5 mile Llanberis path to the summit.
Snowdon is almost without doubt the most accessible mountain in the world with 1000's either climbing it or taking it's famous steam railway to the summit. I have climbed it a few times with the most recent being about 8 years ago with my young son. However being on the mountain in sunny ideal conditions is very different to climbing it at night, with wind, rain and the clouds rushing past & I must admit it was far more of a challenge than I expected. Obviously food, drink and appropriate clothing is vitally important on the mountains, especially in rougher conditions all of which adds to the weight needed to be carried up. In addition to this I was carrying two cameras and various accessories in the vague hope that we would get a 2 minute clearance in the conditions to get the ideal sunrise 'marketing' shot for CARE. (Note: The geeky camera bit is covered at the end of this post....)
MOUNT SNOWDON AT SNOWDONIA, LLANBERIS, UK ON 16/05/2015Entering the woods at the base of the mountain. Picture by Julie Edwards MOUNT SNOWDON AT SNOWDONIA, LLANBERIS, UK ON 16/05/2015A quick snack and adjustment of clothing at the half way station. 16/05/2015 at Snowdonia, Llanberis. Picture by Julie Edwards
The first short rest was in the shelter of the 1st railway bridge (point 5 on this description of the path). It had stopped raining and most of us actually felt quite warm with some climbers opting to reduce their base clothing once we got to the halfway station (point 6, here) at around 2:45AM.
Once we left the shelter of the building the wind really grew and the temperature dropped as the path grew steeper. We reached the 2nd railway bridge (point 8) after an hour and was really glad of the stop, sheltering from the wind behind the raised railway embankment. A group of climbers from another event passed us going down and I heard one ask the guide "so its just one more steep section down now?" , this of course meant there were more steep sections waiting for us above! You can really feel that we are in the clouds in these images!
MOUNT SNOWDON AT SNOWDONIA, LLANBERIS, UK ON 16/05/2015Sheltering from the wind behind the railway embankment at the second bridge. 16/05/2015 at Snowdonia, Llanberis. Picture by Julie Edwards MOUNT SNOWDON AT SNOWDONIA, LLANBERIS, UK ON 16/05/2015Sheltering from the wind behind the railway embankment at the second bridge. 16/05/2015 at Snowdonia, Llanberis. Picture by Julie Edwards
Once out of the shelter of the railway, the wind and path really bit. Although it is the easiest path up, it is the longest and the North-Westerly wind was blowing unimpeded right at us. Luckily it was to our right and behind, sort of biting at our rear and pushing us up the mountain to the summit. There comes a point, about 40 minutes out where the path almost joins the bed of the railway and with day breaking it was nice to get on a more even surface even if just for a short while before rejoining the path.
Finally at 4:55AM we could see the summit, well it drifted in and out of view with the clouds. Our guides had timed the walk perfectly to give us the minimum wait for sunrise. At this point the cold wind was really taking hold and I could barely feel my fingers, let alone the shutter and camera controls.
A few pictures and the now obligatory selfie on the summit and it was time to start down.
Our 4 hour climb was followed by a 2 hour decent with the sun gradually warming us as we got lower. The clouds of course were not so helpful and we still only managed glimpses of the wonderful scenery, these glimpses were enough though for the mountain virgins to understand why people flocked to the summit!
MOUNT SNOWDON AT SNOWDONIA, LLANBERIS, UK ON 16/05/2015The clouds moved at a swift speed as they enveloped us then cleared giving glimpses of the mountains before hiding it again. 16/05/2015 at Snowdonia, Llanberis. Picture by Julie Edwards
I must admit - I did not note the time I got back to 'base camp' - I was just so glad to be greeted by the CARE team and a nice warm cuppa...
My IPhone selfie on the summit....
At the point of writing this my fund-raising has reached £1.00 short of £500.00 I am so grateful to all those that have donated (and speaking to the CARE team, they are also) but for me this is just the half way point. On the 13th June I am walking 50km (yes thats longer than a marathon) in a single day, photographing the CARE Jurassic Coast Trek. Why not join me?
Obviously weight was a real issue with this event and I really did not want to carry any more than necessary! It will be no surprise that I opted for my mirrorless Fuji cameras. With the weather forecast as it was I also really did not want to change lenses unless absolutely necessary therefore I fitted the 56/1.2 to the X-T1 and the 14/2.8 to the X-Pro1.
I' m a real fan of the Think-Tank range of gear and although it offered less protection than putting all the kit in a rucksack, I needed to distribute the weight so I carried the 2 cameras along with a 55-200 and 18-55 in a belt system on my waist. I have 2 'Skin Body Bags' each of which carries a camera fitted with a lens plus an additional lens. Spare batteries were kept in my pockets so they did not get too cold (although I did not need to change them).
In the vain hope of a a break in the weather, in the rucksack I had 2 YN560 speedlights with remote triggers (no surprise - they did not leave the bag!)
The images were shot in RAW and JPG with the 'Base Camp' photos being tweeted live via an I-Pad and WiFi connection to the X-T1. All of the images were shot in Astia/Soft with very little post-process work required (I really love the colours these cameras produce).
MOUNT SNOWDON AT SNOWDONIA, LLANBERIS, UK ON 16/05/2015The clouds moved at a swift speed as they enveloped us then cleared giving glimpses of the mountains befor4e hiding it again. 16/05/2015 at Snowdonia, Llanberis. Picture by Julie Edwards
I am used to the comments and 'ribbing' i get from other pro photographers about using these cameras but the fact is, as long as the job is right (there are still a few types of job they cannot do), they are every bit as good as a large DSLR if setup and used appropriately.