My heart is racing at 2,000 beats per minute, and my lungs feel like they’re trying to crawl up my throat and escape out my mouth. Meanwhile, there’s a gang of angry butterflies running riot inside my stomach. All this would be bad enough, but it’s being made worse by the fact I’m climbing on the upper echelons of the sixth highest mountain in Wales… without ropes.
What started out as a sunny day scramble on Glyder Fach, in the Snowdonia National Park, has turned into a nightmare that I can’t seem to wake up from. We’re about four-fifths of the way to the summit, and the fear has well and truly taken hold. I want to go home. I want to be in bed, or the pub, or the backseat of the rental car; I want to be anywhere but here. I close my eyes and then open them again. I’m still clinging to the rock in front of me, painfully aware of the terrifying drop behind me.
“I’m clinging to Glyder Fach with everything I’ve got, and my fingers are starting to hurt.”
My six months of bouldering knowledge has deserted me, replaced by looping visions of me falling and splatting all over the rocks hundreds of metres below. This is it. I’m going to die here. I’m definitely going to die here. I quietly vow to come back as a ghost and haunt my mate Dave, the man responsible for leading us up this suicidal route, from now until forever.
“I’m stuck, mate. I don’t think I can move,” I say to my other friend Tom.
Rewind the story back 36 hours and it’s midnight as me, Tom, Dave and Dave’s brother Glenn approach the Gwerf Gof Uchaf campsite just outside of Betws-y-Coed. After somehow managing to construct our tents, one of which we’ve never put up before, by the light of our headtorches I endure a horribly cold night of camping. My lack of camping mat, a rookie error in hindsight, comes back to bite me and I barely scrape together a few hours’ sleep; shivering intermittently.