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Mountaineering in Wales



Most of the mountains of Wales had been climbed by the eighteenth-century. There seemed to be no mystery to reaching the top of the mountains and there were no major physical feats. However, during the nineteenth-century, it became fashionable to climb mountains. Due to this increase in popularity, a great amount of tourism was attracted to Wales.

Pen-y-Gwryd was a popular meeting place for the mountaineers, especially C. E. Mathews who would come to Wales at Christmas bringing his friends to climb the mountains of Wales. They would ascend to the highest rock face in Wales, named Lliwedd, which stood at 800ft. C. E. Mathews was an important aspect in the growth of rock climbing as a sport in Wales, forming the Society of Welsh Rabbits in 1870, leading to the formation of the Climbing Club in 1888.

Pen-y-Pass parties were held when groups of people climbed the mountains. One of the most famous parties included Duncan Grant, Robert Graves, Maynard Keynes, Greg Mallory, Charles Trevelyan, Greg Macaulay Trevelyan and Julian Huxley.

Geoffrey Winthrop Young, the son of Sir George Young, ascended one of the major peaks in the 1860s, going against his father's wishes, due to his brother's death upon climbing a mountain.

Climbing was interrupted by the First World War, however, upon its return, it attracted the likes of the lower middle-class people, becoming dominated by Manchester, Liverpool and Yorkshire climbers, whereas previously, it was an upper class, gentry sport. The working-class would have no time to climb, or the money to spend on travel or equipment. C. E. Mathews classified mountaineering as a "sport that from some mysterious cause appeals mainly to the cultivated intellect."


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