Exhausted walkers hoping for a cup of tea and a comfort break after slogging up Wales’s highest mountain will be disappointed.
The Hafod Eryri summit cafe has now closed for the winter after the building was shut down in preparation for the arctic conditions that envelop the peak during the winter months. The cafe will reopen in the spring, but Snowdonia National Park Authority is warning there will be no shelter or other facilities available to walkers until then.
And don’t bother waiting for the train – there probably won’t be one along until May at the earliest.
A spokesperson for the authority said: “There will be no toilets, no cafe, no shelter and no trains, and although it will be possible to walk to the summit, walkers are urged to ensure that they have appropriate boots and clothing and that they check the weather forecast before beginning their journey and to remember that if in doubt, turn back.
“The mountain will still be there another day.”
Staff from the national park and the Snowdon Mountain Railway, which runs the building, spent days recently preparing for winter on the 1,085m (3,560ft) summit. Television screens have been taken down, the shop and cafe totally emptied, water taken out of the tanks and pipes and the building is securely locked until spring next year.
National park chief executive Aneurin Phillips said: “These last few months have shown us that this project has been very successful. The interest in the building has been immeasurable and that in turn has been a huge benefit to the local economy.
“We knew that there would be an increase in visitor numbers to the summit, but didn’t expect as many as we have seen. We know that nearly 342,000 walkers have been on Snowdon between April and September, which is an increase of 31 per cent compared with the same period last year and this is obviously good news for the whole area.
“The response we’ve received from the public has been very encouraging with people complimenting the high standard of workmanship and how successfully it blends into the landscape.”
Snowdon Mountain Railway, marketing officer Jonathon Tyler added: “This has been an extremely busy season this year and we now look forward to next year when we hope it will be as busy. It’s looking very promising at present.”
Last winter saw a terrible toll on Snowdon, with four deaths on the mountain in 11 days, prompting the British Mountaineering Council to issue a warning to walkers not to be tempted by the hype surrounding winter ascents.
The council said: “It is important to recognise that although it is relatively easy to access Snowdonia’s mountains in both summer and winter, the terrain is nonetheless as serious as that found in any of Britain’s mountains,” the council said.
“The full range of mountaineering and climbing skills are needed to manage the risks involved. Some of the skills are technical but equally important are judgement and decision-making. It takes time to acquire these skills.”
Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team, in whose area Snowdon stands, has already seen an increase in callouts this year. Ian Henderson said his team had been mobilised more than 160 times so far this year, compared to 105 in 2008.
He said: “I think it’s probably simply due to the fact there have been many more people on the mountains this year,” but added that people seem less self reliant and dialled 999 rather than trying to get themselves out of trouble.
The search-and-rescue helicopter crews at RAF Valley, within minutes flying time of the Snowdonia peaks, will provide only daytime cover for six weeks from next Sunday, with other bases offering night-time backup.