Another interesting mountain walk is Mount Takao, just outside Tokio. First one must take the electric railway for an hour through endless suburbs. But the journey is full of interest as it facilitates the observation of the one's fellow passengers and their exoticisms. How well behaved the Nipponese are in their own environment! But once set outside it they find themselves at a lamentable loss. In this respect they differ greatly from the Chinese, although not so much, perhaps, from Her Majesty's subjects. Think of Africa!
The excursion proper begins with the path marked in red on this map (the rightmost route). It leads one up beside a little stream, from which strange red land-crabs emerge and run to and fro. Takao rises only to 1964 feet above sea-level; a stroll really rather than a climb. Towards the top one discovers a strange mixture of fun-fairs and monasteries. We peeped into one of these monasteries and saw a great throng of monks sitting on the floor and chanting away in the lowest pitch they could conceivably manage. (One hears such things on the Nipponese wireless sometimes also.) I have no idea what it was all about, and was interested only in the musical possibilities of this extraordinary sound, but something in it gave my companion, a Chinese from Hong Kong, the shivers. "Come away from this terrible place!" he urged. It seemed to be a philosophical service rather than a funerary one; so I still do not know why he was so disconcerted (and I did not like to insist upon an explanation).
One may descend by the convenient alternative routes on the left of the map (brown or purple). I have climbed Takao three times I think, but only now after finding the map on the inter-network do I see that it would have been possible to continue rather further to a rather higher peak (2810 feet).
Well, there is a train up Snowdon, Sydney, and I can confirm that I did recently go up Snowdon by train with my surviving grandmother. My most famous ascent was when I was doing my Mountain Leadership Training with some SAS recruits. As a night exercise, we had to do the horseshoe, and they all got lost in a snowstorm, so I was first!
I should add that I usually climb instead, and tend to prefer the more difficult routes, so I am relatively familiar with most of the rock faces around Wales's highest summit! Of course, it is probably most rewarding to walk, particularly in fine weather. I commend the Rhyd Ddu Path to 'The Third'!
Ah - I see that the member has added a bit since I last looked at this thread. I suppose he being a climber has gone along the infamous Crib Goch ridge (which I have not). If he has would he tell us a little about the experience? (We may presume that grand-mother did not go along on that occasion.)
In comparison with some of the other mountains treated in this thread Snowdon at 3,560 feet above the sea is minute, yet its ascent is a not inconsiderable undertaking. Probably this is because of the absence of vegetation, the sheer size of all the stone blocks, and the lengthy approach marches. Why does it have so little vegetation when it is not particularly high? The area has not properly recovered from the ice-age; that will be it.
My own experience is of having to make about three attempts before finally attaining the summit. The route began at Pen-y-pass motor park - at 1,000 feet quite high already - and followed the "Miners' Track," marked "3" on the map, which is long and flat and passes many ruined buildings. The Welsh artillery or some such, whether bebusbied or not, used these for target practice; the French Army used the Egyptian pyramids for a similar purpose. How it must have echoed up and down the valleys!
Eventually one comes to a lake, along the right-hand shore of which one traverses, and after which the climb proper begins, with a steep zig-zag section. Upon attaining the ridge (at the point marked "B") it is not much further on to the summit, where there is now I hear a wonderful restaurant - no sign of it in my day. I don't remember even having seen the train; it would have been down the slope a bit on the other side.
Our return journey went along the other side of the lake, high up via Y Lliwedd, which is marked "D" on the map. My memory of this part is for some reason quite vague, probably an effect of tiredness. Although high, the path was not difficult, except that I have a dim memory of a nasty boggy stretch once the flatter land near the lake was reached. Anyway eventually I learned to step on tussocks and got back to the afore-mentioned long and stony Miners' track.
For some reason few good photo-graphs of the Snowdon area are to be found on the Inter-network.
The reason why there is so little vegetation in Snowdonia and the highlands of Scotland, for example, is because over thousands of years, we have felled the indigenous oak forests and grazed sheep on the grass moorlands instead. So the treeless British mountain landscape is anything but natural! As for Crib Goch, it is little more than a scramble, although you probably do need to use both hands, on occasion.
As for bogs, it is quite easy to sink up to your middle in the Welsh hills, on occasion, I once remember sinking even further at the source of the Severn on Plynlimon, so placing your feet on tussocks makes sense. The root structure of the grass should support your body weight! Of course, the best bet if you go completely under is to come up down under instead, Sydney!
I was backpacking across the Cambrian mountains on this particular occasion on a Duke of Edinburgh's Silver Award Expedition and as I plunged into the peat bog, my rucksack got caught behind me. I then leaned back on the rucksack and my legs rose to the surface. I then unstrapped the rucksack, turned on to my front, supported by the rucksack and crawled out to firmer ground.
Joking aside, I should clarify that there was no possibility of my ending up down under, although the velocity with which I initially descended was alarming, so the thought did cross my mind. The practical problem was that both I and my clothes were soaking and filthy, so I had to find a way to wash and dry, which was no easy matter on a cold winter's day on the top of a Welsh mountain.
When I finally reached a telephone box about six hours later (this was before mobiles), I rang my mother and asked her whether she could bring some towels and a change of clothes. She also brought me a thermos of hot soup, so I was able to continue the expedition.
The member was triply fortunate! Firstly to have a mother - and a motoring mother - not too far away; secondly to have had such a substantial knapsack; and thirdly not to have been bitten by a viper or an adder which may have proved fatal within those six hours of exertions.