Some youth hostels have strong connections with mountain and mountaineering, none more so than Pen y Pass, in Snowdonia. Today the outdoor magazine TGO has recognised the hostel’s history.
The hostel started as the Gorphwysfa Hotel, a coaching inn. Many many famous mountaineers stayed there. The hostel, at the start of the track up Snowdon, is ideally situated for climbers going into the hills. All that slog up from the valley bottom is avoided.
Each year at Easter, in the early part of the last century, Geoffrey Winthrop Young held climbing parties there, a mixture of university reading weeks, house party and climbing weekends. Young was later President of the British Mountaineering Council despite losing a leg in the First World War.
George Mallory, the mountaineer who died on the 1924 Everest expedition, attended regularly. Youth hostel President and keen walker, G M Trevelyan also attended, along with his cousin, Aldous Huxley. They, and many others, left their signatures in the hotel’s well used guest book.
YHA took the guest book when it bought the hotel for conversion to a hostel in 1971 and the book is now held in the YHA Archive, in the Cadbury Research Library – Special Collections at the University of Birmingham.