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By Matt Holland

Image credit Jim Cossey

The final camp for 2019. One final outing to see the year off in style and attempt to get some early snow and the week prior to the trip was looking very promising with heavy snow forecasted for the mountains.

However, with the news, a storm now heading to the UK our plans for a calm snowstorm was scuppered with gale-force winds and plenty of rain. The mountains did see snow, but it would be a few days before we could get the opportunity to climb up.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II; M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens @ 27mm, F5.6, 5 sec, ISO 200, high res mode, mounted to tripod with 3 stop grad filter and CPL

“Whenever Matt’s involved the weather always takes a turn for the worst.”

Our location was obvious, we wanted to explore the lesser-visited mountains of South Snowdonia, but with the new forecast bringing 60mph plus winds and rain these exposed peaks nearer the coast was a bad idea. We would once again return to our favourite and sheltered valley; Ogwen Valley.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II; : M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens @ 15mm, F2.8, 1/50 sec, ISO 1000, handheld

For the next 48 hours, we would have to battle with the gale-force winds and heavy rain as we waited patiently for it to subside and give us the blue skies, no wind and plenty of snow on the peaks. You could argue, why not just climb up anyway? It’s just not worth the risk and this is when equipment or yourselves would get broken.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II; M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens @ 12mm, F8, 0.6 sec, ISO 100, high res mode, mounted to tripod with 3 stop grad filter, PCL and 6 stop ND

Despite the weather, we still made the most of the opportunity being in North Wales and our photography was dark and gloomy with the height of the storm battering us. With all of us shooting Olympus or Panasonic we knew our cameras could hold up to a bit of rain. It was holding the tripods for any long exposures with was the interesting part of photography.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II; M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens @ 12mm, F8, 8 sec, ISO 100, high res mode, mounted to tripod with 3 stop grad filter, CPL and 6 stop ND

The final day. First light broke and we packed up our tents and kit, loading it into the cars ready for a quick escape later that day. The forecast gave us a window of a few hours to enjoy the clear skies and lack of wind so our 3 pm deadline was set and back into the valley we returned and began our climb up in pursuit of our Winter Wonderland.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II; M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens @ 12mm, F8, 1/250 sec, ISO 200, handheld

500m the wet grounds began to turn to ice. 700m the path was now difficult to see with a good coating of snow. 900m a good few inches of snow and the full winter kit was needed. 1001m, Glyder Fawr’s summit. 3ft snowdrifts and 360º views of this snow kingdom. Our patience had paid off and we enjoyed the brief moment on the summit. It was brief because our view across to Snowdon which began clear was now shrouded by the front. The front which would bring zero visibility and return of the gale-force winds.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II; M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens @ 12mm, F5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO 400

As began our descent to safety and to find our transport out of Wales the blizzard hit and despite our speed to get out the mountain plateau, we made the most of the opportunity with the snow and conditions. The camera’s out and continuing to shoot down to the cars.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II; M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens @ 150mm, F4, 1/250 sec, ISO 400

The weekend wasn’t the experience we had first planned, but we made the most of it regardless of the conditions. Enjoying the outdoors and photography, no matter the weather.

You can see more from Matt on his Instagram or by visiting mihollandphoto.com