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Digital Subscriptions > Lonely Planet Traveller (UK) > February 2017 > PEAK practice

PEAK practice

Head to Snowdonia in the footsteps of heroic mountaineers, for whom Welsh hills were the training ground for the ultimate adventure
PHOTOGRAPHS JUSTIN FOULKES @justinfoulkes
The B4418 winding under the cliffs of Mynydd Mawr, a peak known colloquially as ‘Elephant Mountain’

IN THE EARLY HOURS OF 2 June 1953, guests sleeping at the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel heard an urgent knocking on their doors and were instructed by the proprietor to assemble downstairs. They were among the first to learn that mortals had stood on the highest point on Earth, finding out not long after Queen Elizabeth II, who was crowned later that day. Glühwein was served in celebration.

A version of this triumphant scene could have played out in a chalet in Switzerland or a log cabin in Alaska. However, the spiritual home of the British 1953 Everest expedition was a little pub in a blustery mountain pass in Snowdonia, which served as their training base. Staying at the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel, these men tested themselves against the surrounding Welsh mountains – peaks that measured beside the Andes or the Alps as mere molehills. They can be ascended after a fry-up and descended in time for a pint before teatime. And yet these modest peaks have a long, unlikely association with humankind’s most heroic mountaineering feats.

Volunteer Snowdon warden Ray Dimmock. LEFT Everest memorabilia in the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel
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February 2017
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