This was it. The moment that my life would end. As I tumbled uncontrollably down the exposed rockface, I came to the heart-breaking realisation that there was nothing I could do to change the course of events already in motion. The base of the towering cliff was more than 120ft below me and closing fast. Even if I survived a fall of this magnitude, I would land on the jagged rock fragments of a steep scree slope. I believed that all hope was lost. It’s a scary thought knowing that your last desperate shouts for help may ultimately be in vain. Only fate would decide when my story came to an end.
My longstanding thirst for adventure had led me to this life-altering moment. As a boy, I discovered a copy of Touching the Void in my school library and became captivated by tales of daring, sacrifice, and the life-or-death pursuits that defined so many pioneers of high-altitude mountaineering. I soon became inspired by the wild, rugged mountains of North Wales and spent every waking moment exploring them alongside my best friends. I’d never fooled myself that there wasn’t an element of calculated risk as I pushed my limits, rockface by rockface, mountain by mountain. But it was an addictive, exhilarating pursuit of self-discovery.
Hurtling down the sheer cliff of World’s End toward my climbing partner below, seconds seemed to last an eternity. Life wasn’t flashing before my eyes, but it was suddenly put into sharp perspective for the first time. God, I’d never see Ellie again, my loving family, the friends I’d forged unbreakable bonds with. The promise of life would be left unfulfilled. So many dreams would now not come to pass – climbing Mount Everest, serving as part of the Special Forces Reserve, travelling the world.
Three words clung desperately to the frayed edges of my consciousness as I came close to blacking out: “Please don’t die.”
Life hung in the balance…