Man Who Scaled Mountain For First Sunrise Of 2020 Captures Rare Phenomenon

by : Emily Brown on : 03 Jan 2020 18:34
Man Who Scaled Mountain For First Sunrise Of 2020 Captures Rare PhenomenonRhys Pleming/Instagram

A man who rang in the new year by scaling a mountain to take a picture of the sunrise managed to capture a rare phenomenon on camera. 

While the rest of the world was waking up to headaches, dry mouths and hazy memories on January 1, hiker Rhys Pleming began the decade by scaling Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales.


Rhys and his friend hiked the Llanberis path in an attempt to capture the very first sunrise of the decade, and while he successfully accomplished his mission he was also rewarded with the rare sight known as the Brocken spectre.

Stunning images taken by the hiker appear to show an other-worldly, angelic presence appearing through the clouds, surrounded by a circular rainbow of light. With no knowledge of the phenomenon it would be easy to believe you were being visited by some mysterious, floating figure, but that was not the case here.

The optical illusion actually appears when the low sun shines behind someone looking down into mist from a ridge. The atmospheric conditions at the top of Snowdon threw the person’s shadow forward, creating a shadow silhouetted against a circular rainbow.


So, as magical as it may have first seemed, it turns out this angelic presence was actually just another early-riser.

Still, it wowed Rhys, who described the scene as ‘majestical’.

Speaking to North Wales Live about the experience, he explained:


There was only a 50/50 chance of seeing the sunrise because of the cloud, but me and my friend decided to go up anyway.

He told me to walk ahead because he was a bit slower than me, so I must have summited around 8.15am and started to take a few pictures of the sunrise. There were a few other people there at that point too.

It was about an hour later when my friend arrived at the top that the Brocken spectre happened. It was perfect timing. It was just pure luck.

Man captures rare phenomenon after hiking mountainRhys Pleming/Instagram

Rhys spoke to another hiker who said that, despite climbing Snowdon more than 40 times, they’d never before witnessed the phenomenon.

The amazed photographer added:


I’d only gone to get some pictures of the sunrise, but this was just a bonus. It was a New Year to remember.

Man captures rare phenomenon after hiking mountainRhys Pleming/Instagram

In the past, before a more reasonable explanation emerged, the sight was thought to be a supernatural creature dubbed ‘The Big Grey Man of Ben Macdui’.

While the phenomenon is rare, hikers hoping to see it have a better chance early in the morning, when shadows are longer and have more chance of falling on to the cloud.


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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Life, hiking, Photography, Wales


North Wales Live and 1 other
  1. North Wales Live

    Snowdon walker went to get pictures of first 2020 sunrise - but ended up capturing this rare sight

  2. Rhys Pleming/Instagram