What is the Welsh 3000s Challenge? Have you ever heard of it? If you’re reading this, there’s a chance you’re considering taking on this beast of a challenge.

The Welsh 3000s is summiting the 15 highest mountains in Wales, in Snowdonia National Park within 24 hours.

The name ‘Welsh 3000s’ gives a clue to the challenge, all 15 mountains are over 3,000 ft. The hike can be done via slightly different routes. In total, you’re going to be hiking over 30 miles including getting up and down from the first and last summits. There is an additional summit you can do on the Glyders to make it 16 but this isn’t an official mountain.

What are the Welsh 3000s?

Here are the 15 mountains that you need to conquer in order to complete the Welsh 3000s challenge, Snowdon the highest of the 15 and Tryfan the shortest mountain (this is the order I did the route I did in 2019). I’ve also included the times I reached each mountain summit.

Start: Pen y Pass at 4.17 am

  1. 5.40 am – Crib Goch (923m)
  2. 6.36 am – Garnedd Ugain (1,065m)
  3. 6.57 am – Snowdon (1,085m)
  4. 10.15 am – Elidir Fawr (924m)
  5. 12.06 pm – Y Garn (947m)
  6. 1.23 pm – Glyder Fawr (1,001m)
  7. 2.13 pm – Glyder Fach (994m)
  8. 3.53 pm – Tryfan (917m)
  9. 7.39 pm – Pen yr Ole Wen (978m)
  10. 8.19 pm – Carnedd Dafydd (1,044m)
  11. 9.20 pm – Carnedd Llewelyn (1,064m
  12. 9.59 pm – Yr Elen (962m)
  13. 11.26 pm – Foel Grach (976m)
  14. 12.04 am Garnedd Uchaf (926m)
  15. 12.36 am – Foel-fras (942m)

Finish: Aber Falls Car Park at 3.05 am

Beautiful Snowdonia
Beautiful Snowdonia

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I took on the Welsh 3000s in June 2018 and lost! It was honestly the hardest challenge I’ve ever done, yes you heard that right. Mount Kilimanjaro summit night comes close, 8 hours trekking up to the summit in pitch black but this was tougher.

Here I have shared my top tips for attempting the Welsh 3000s in Snowdonia (there is a chance that you might not complete it). This challenge is tough.

Update August 2019

Crib Goch sunrise
Second time lucky on the Welsh 3000s Challenge

I returned and succeeded in my Welsh 3000s Challenge. Yes, I am so happy. But it was still bloody tough. I’ve included some more Welsh 3000s advice in the post from my recent Wales adventure.

If you are planning on taking on the Welsh 3000s please feel free to drop me a message, comment below or get in touch via my social media – You can find me @beckythetraveller on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

Photos in the post are a mix of my 2018 and 2019 Welsh 3000s hikes, plus a few other Snowdonia trips

My Welsh 3000s Challenge (2018 attempt)

Start point: Mount Snowdon summit
Hiking distance: 32 miles*
Hiking time: 25 hours*
Difficulty: Hard
Map: OS Explorer OL17 Snowdon/ Yr Wyddfa

*The hiking time and distance are for my personal challenge.

Firstly, to put you in the picture here’s the short version of my challenge.

Pre Challenge

  • Arrive at the campsite, set up camp and pack my bag for the overnight trip
  • Set off for Snowdon on Friday night from Pen y Pass about 8.00 pm
  • Reach Snowdon summit, pitch my tent with rocks
  • Go to bed at 11.30 pm, barely sleep
  • The alarm goes off at 3.30 am. Pack up my tent in the rain

Welsh 3000s Challenge on the Day

Glyders section - Welsh 3000s challenge - Snowdonia
Hiking the Glyders section of the challenge
  • Begin the hike from the official start on Snowdon summit on Saturday at 4.30 am (in the rain)
  • Hike along to summit number 2, then along Crib Goch (very slowly due to rain and wind)
  • Head down from Crib Goch back to the campsite
  • Back to the campsite at 8.30 am. Breakfast, coffee and dump camping gear
  • Set off again hiking at 10.00 am (yes it’s still raining)
  • Make a wrong turn and take a longer route to summit 4, then onto summit 5 arrive about 2.30 pm
Elidir Fawr summit, views on a good day!
Elidir Fawr summit, views on a good day!
  • A miracle happens at 3.00 pm it stops raining (11 hours of rain!)
  • On to summit numbers 6, 7 and 8 (7 is not an official summit but we did it anyway!)
  • Now summit 9 Tryfan, reaching the summit at 6.30 pm then descending by 8.15 pm
  • Stop off for water and more supplies at a secret stash
  • At 8.30 pm we head off to summit number 10, reaching it at 10.00 pm (losing the light)
  • Summit number 11, it’s almost pitch black
  • Then Summit 12 about midnight, we took the decision to abort the challenge and get safely back down from the mountains
  • At 5.00 am after the hardest 5 hours of the challenge we reach the road and our lift back to the campsite

Check out my 20 favourite UK hikers on Instagram

Weather in Wales

Weather in the UK can be unpredictable, add in a few mountains and it’s a recipe for any weather to be thrown at you.

My top tip is to check the weather forecast and then plan for every other type of weather too!

Here’s what weather I had to deal with (and you might too) on the day of the challenge:

Rain rain and more rain (sideways, upwards and downwards)

Snowdonia - hiking down from Crib Goch
A 5-minute break in the rain after descending Crib Goch

We had looked at the weather and knew it was going to be raining. But what we didn’t factor was 11 hours of rain, from 4 am to 3 pm. Yes, it was brutal and wet obviously!

What difference does a bit a rain make? For starters, rocks are much more slippery, both up and downhill. You need to watch your footing carefully so as not to slip. Before you ask, yes I did fall over, surprisingly only once but still I’d rather stay on two feet!

Rain also means waterproof cover on your bag, which makes grabbing a quick drink or snacks more of a pain. It’s great when you have guys around you to help with this (thanks :)).

On a positive note, I did drink a lot of rainwater as it was running down my face!

Crib Goch on the Welsh 3000s challenge
Scrambling across the wet and slippy Crib Goch. Thank Ryan @vanilakodey for capturing this photo

Windy conditions

Down in the valley wind isn’t a big issue but 3,000 ft up it is! The trickiest and most dangerous section along Crib Goch had a few scary gusts of wind, that came out of no-where. The best thing to do is stop for a second and let it pass. No way do you want to fall from a 3,000 ft edge.

Sunshine

Although we didn’t have much sunshine on our hike, I’ve contemplated since returning and the UK has a mini heatwave. Completing the Welsh 3000s challenge in hot temperatures would be tough.

You would need a lot more water, meaning more weight to carry. Unless you have one of those fancy water filters and even if you did there aren’t loads of streams on the route.

Another factor high on the mountains with a breeze you wouldn’t notice getting sunburnt. I would consider a long sleeve top to prevent having to put on (and carry) so much suncream.

Wild camping on Mt Snowdon summit

Hiking up Mt Snowdon
Hiking up Mt Snowdon via the Pyg Track

We chose to hike up Snowdon late the night before and wild camp. An awesome experience camping at the top of the highest mountain in Wales.

On the positive side, you start as soon as the sun rises from, Snowdon summit. Saving you the 1.5-2 hour hike up the mountain at the start of the challenge.

But on the negative side, camping means you need to carry your camping equipment (I took my Vango Banshee 200, a two-person tent). As well as a sleeping bag and Thermarest mat. Not only do you need to carry it to the top of Snowdon, you’ll also have to carry it all along the second and third peaks (including the tricky knife-edge route along Crib Goch) until you descend the mountain range.

To save on weight, I opted not to carry gas and cooking equipment but instead took some cold food. Great I had less weight but not so good my evening meal before the big challenge was pretty rubbish.

I don’t feel the extra weight impacted on this first section of the hike, but I do wonder whether I could have preserved some of that extra energy for later on.

Ever wanted to try wild camping in the UK? Read more about here

UK wild camping essentials guide for your first trip

Right gear and equipment for the challenge

Having done numerous full day hikes in the UK and abroad when I agreed to do the challenge I was confident that I had all the gear that I needed for the hike.

My main problem and you’ll probably all think I’m really stupid when I say this, was having it with me on the hike. It’s not like I left my waterproof jacket behind but there were things that really should have been in my bag, like warm gloves and my super warm down jacket that I left behind.

At midnight, whilst hiking in strong wind at 3,000 ft on the Carneddau mountain range I was kicking myself for not putting them in my bag.

Waterproof gear

Tryfan mountain in Snowdonia on Welsh 3000s challenge
Reaching the top of Tryfan was a real highlight at 6.30 pm

I packed my waterproof trousers for the hike. I use the word waterproof very loosely because within a couple of hours they were absolutely useless. Did I mention that it rained for 11 hours solid! My waterproof socks did a much better job but after about 5 hours they had stopped being waterproof too.

The only thing that did an awesome job was my new Berghaus Paclite jacket. I’d had it since February and to date, it’s barely experienced any rain. This was a huge test for my bright pink jacket and I’m pleased to say it was the only one in our group that stood up to the challenge.

Read my full review of my Berghaus waterproof jacket here

Hiking Poles

One piece of kit that I was glad to have were my new Montem Trekking Poles. There were sections of the hike that involved a lot of scrambling, which I prefer to have my hands free. But there were also steep climbs up and down where I was so glad to have the poles with me.

I did let Ellie try them out as we were hiking uphill and she was amazed at the difference it made. I’m not sure she wanted to give them back but she did thank goodness!

Water and Food for the hike

Y Garn - Welsh 3000s challenge - Snowdonia
Y Garn in Snowdonia National Park

Even if the weather isn’t going to be tropical conditions then I would still recommend hydrating before your hike. It’s not great to start any challenge like this dehydrated.

I had my Sigg water bottles filled up on both sides, 750 ml bottles. Plus I was carrying a couple of energy drinks as well.

One of our group (Super Ryan) planned ahead and left a water stash on the hike, a great idea to save you carrying extra weight. I would have loved it if we had also parked a car at the bottom of Tryfan mountain with more supplies too.

Choose a high protein, easy to eat food whilst you are on the hike. Plus a decent dinner the night before and if possible for the days leading up to the challenge.

You might like to read next – The best walks in Snowdonia

Plan for hiking in the dark

Tryfan Snowdonia Wales
Nighttime in the mountains (not a place to be without a good torch)

Our group were all fit, experienced hikers (ok maybe I was a bit slower) we’d read that on average for fast hikers you could complete the challenge in around 15 hours. I will openly admit, I’d not factored in hiking at 2 am, 3 am or even 4 am. In fact, I stopped (or collapsed) from hiking at 5 am.

I had warm clothes, my 4-man survival shelter and plenty of water. Although, I would have loved my big warm down jacket for when I started to slow and my body temperature cooled down.

I also have no idea why I didn’t pack some warmer gloves. Both my pairs were soaking from the earlier rain and I had no other option (thanks Neil, your SealSkinz gloves were amazing).

My big error for hiking in the dark was my headtorch. It was fine for finding things in my tent in the dark but either I picked up the wrong torch or the batteries were on the way out because didn’t omit nearly enough light to show me the best way over the rocky ground.

Know the Welsh 3000s route

Hiking the Carnedd Range, as the sun goes down
Hiking the Carnedd Range, as the sun goes down

For this hike, I wasn’t map reading, I had my OS map and compass but one of our group Ryan was much more experienced so he was in charge of the route. A job I don’t envy him of, I’m not great at map reading but this challenge you need to keep on track. We went the wrong way once, to be honest, I’m not surprised, the conditions were awful and you couldn’t see very well.

But this did add a few extra miles to our already long hike. If you have the option to hike sections of the route beforehand, in particular, the joining up of the sections I’d recommend it.

I’d like to thank Ryan and his map reading skills for really coming into play later on the hike and getting us all safely off the mountain. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

Read next: Smart or stupid navigating by phone in the mountains

Be prepared for the mental challenge

Tryfan Snowdonia, Wales
Returning to Tryfan mountain on a sunnier day!

The Welsh 3000s is a completely different type of challenge. Like all tough things in life they require physical strength and fitness (to different degrees depending on what the challenge is) but also a huge amount of mental toughness. The Welsh 3000s is certainly more of a mental challenge.

In those final hours, 3,000 ft up a mountain, in darkness, I’m not going to lie it was hard. The ground is very uneven and with my rubbish headtorch, I’d created an additional challenge for myself. I’m laughing about it now but it was ridiculous not having a bright enough torch.

But as a team, we stuck together and made it to the end. Although we didn’t summit all 15 official mountains I couldn’t be prouder of my achievement.

What would I do differently if I did the Welsh 3000s Challenge again?

Welsh 3000s challenge - Snowdonia
The extra summit (that isn’t officially a mountain)
  1. Firstly, if I planned a date when the weather was raining loads again, I would re-arrange
  2. Eat more food (carb loading) before the hike
  3. Eat more food on the challenge
  4. Buy some waterproof trousers that are actually waterproof
  5. Pack my lovely warm gloves and big down jacket (in a waterproof dry bag)
  6. Leave a car with extra supplies, clothes at the bottom of Tryfan mountain
  7. Take a headtorch that is bright enough for nighttime hiking

And would I do the Welsh 3000s again?

I’m sure you’re wondering after everything I’ve said, would I do the Welsh 3000s challenge again? Yes, I definitely would. I totally agree it was a tough challenge but even in the wind, rain and darkness I loved it (yes I know I’m a little mad).

Welsh 3000s August 2019

Crib Goch sunrise Welsh 3000s
What a way to start the Welsh 3000s!

My Welsh 3000s Challenge (2019)

Start point: Crib Goch (Starting Pen y Pass)
Hiking distance: 30 miles*
Hiking time: 23 hours*
Difficulty: Hard
Map: OS Explorer OL17 Snowdon/ Yr Wyddfa

*Full hike distance and time from Pen y Pass to Aber Falls car park.

What I did differently on my second Welsh 3000s Challenge?

Before the Hike 

On Saturday 3rd August I set off on my second attempt at the Welsh 3000s. This time instead of camping at the top of Snowdon, I parked at Pen y Pass car park (ยฃ10), I booked a YHA Hostel and had a good 5 hours sleep prior to the challenge.

I also made sure I ate well the days prior to the challenge and had a good carb-loading dinner the night before, all to keep me going on the challenge.

Starting the Hike + The Route

On route to Mt Snowdon summit
On route to Mt Snowdon summit

We set off on the Pyg Track and up onto Crib Goch, this is extra hiking on the overall challenge, instead of starting from Snowdon summit, but I found it much better option. I’d had some rest, I didn’t have to wake up early and pack away a tent or carry camping gear.

It added about 1 hour and 20 minutes to the overall day, but I reckon it was a good decision. Oh and check out the stunning sunrise (pic above on Crib Goch), wow!

This route then takes you down part of the Llanberis trail, and a grassy descent directly down to Nant Peris, missing out coming down the scree and along the road section, which again was thumbs up for me.

Mental and Physical Preparation

My Snowdon summit
Sat on Snowdon summit at 7am

Although I decided on this challenge last minute, after spending the last two months hiking across Britain with 15 kg in my backpack, I felt like now was the time to go for it. 

I used my Suunto watch to keep track on my progress and calculated how long it was taken between mountains, giving me smaller targets to hit on an overall long day!

Mentally my head was really strong for this challenge, that was a massive factor in me completing and staying focused on the challenge.

Snowdonia Weather

I’d checked the weather and it looked to be pretty good until the afternoon, where there were some showers. I will openly admit, if heavy rain had been forecast for the majority of the day I may not have started. I remember how tough it was last time in 11 hours solid rain!

But I was super lucky, pretty much wore shorts and t-shirt the entire day, not putting my waterproof on until about 3pm. Yes, winning!

Other Changes on my Welsh 3000s Hike

Views from Y Garn, Snowdonia
Views from Y Garn at 12 noon, still another 10 to go
  • Swapped my head torch for a brighter light – Led Lenser NEO6 (differnent colours available)
  • Switched hiking boots for my hiking shoes – the same ones I wore on my E2W Challenge – Salomon XA Pro
  • Snacked a lot more, keeping my energy levels continually topped up, even though I had a stomach ache halfway through so this wasn’t easy.
  • I took my Water-to-Go bottle which meant I didn’t have to carry as much heavy water with me.

Final Welsh 3000s Advice

Carnedd Dafydd
The sun is about to disappear soon on Carnedd Dafydd
  • This is one badass challenge, don’t underestimate how tough it will be
  • Be physically prepared but don’t forget to keep your head in the game, keep positive and keeping hiking
  • Stop and take photos – but not hundreds
  • Be strick with your breaks, firstly, if you stop for too long you can seize up but secondly all those little 5-10 minutes can soon added up over the day
  • Hiking and navigating in the dark is really challenging and can add extra time to your hike
  • Post-hike you’ll be tired, ideally staying somewhere nearby would be the best option

Welsh 3000s Stats

Hanging out on Tryfan summit
Hanging out on Tryfan summit

*I started my watch at the start of the hike and stopped it when I finished hiking. The official Welsh 3000s route is recorded summit to summit but I don’t have the split of stats for that section (other than the time).

Total distance hiked (from Pen y Pass to Aber Falls Car Park) = 30 miles/49 km

Total time hiking = 23 hours and 5 minutes 

Official Welsh 3000s time (from summit to summit) = 18 hours and 56 minutes

Total ascent = 3,812 metres

Total descent = 3,903 metres

Total calories (according to my weight/height) = 7,234 kcal

Total steps = 74,594 steps

Would you be tempted to take on the Welsh 3000s Challenge? Is there anything else you’d like to know before taking on the challenge? Ask me in the comments below.

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Welsh 3000s Challenge, Snowdonia, Wales

Welsh 3000s Challenge, Snowdonia, Wales

Welsh 3000s Challenge, Snowdonia, Wales

 
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6 thoughts on “Welsh 3000s Challenge Snowdonia (TOP Tips From Attempt 1 + 2)

  1. Josy A says:

    I am so, so impressed Becky!

    This sounds awful and amazing in equal (well…maybe not equal) measure!! Do you think it would have been easier to sleep in a bed in the hostel at the bottom of snowdon and wake up early to do the first couple of hours? That way you could be warm and sleep well before you got started?

    I love the idea of having strategically parked cars loaded with supplies as well!

    I have a feeling you’ll manage it next time.

    • Becky the Traveller says:

      Ah thanks so much, Josy, she is was certainly the most insane challenge I’ve ever done but I loved it all the same. I would maybe camp the night before but it would still mean a really early start, I’m not too sure what I would do. Yep, here’s to the next time ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Sam Carroll says:

    Only just seen this article (must have missed it when you posted it), but what a fun but tiring day it was! Il definitely be back to complete it and I know you will too!

    • Becky the Traveller says:

      Ah thanks so much Sam, yeah it was a pretty epic day, full of ups and downs, literally and in the head! Yeah I would love to try solo but want to practice navigating a few of the sections first ๐Ÿ™‚

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