Jumping between the rocks Adam and Eve at the summit of Tryfan is a photo any self-respecting hiker, scrambler, climber, or all-terrain runner should have. Tryfan in Snowdonia is almost a kilometre high and – depending on your tastes – you can walk up it, scramble up it, or climb it (with ropes 'and everything') depending on which face you attack it from.

We chose to scramble it. My friends had day sacks with water and nosh and beers in them while I – who was in training for a marathon at the time – was carrying a 70 litre rucksack filled with old clothes and some books. I'm a fucking idiot, I know. The proof of that came later. Not that it really needs any.

I was pretty fit but the other two were bounding ahead of me like rabbits, jumping between rocks, sliding down scree slopes, mainly because I had at least 30lbs or so of useless rubbish on my back. We'd stop or they'd wait for me at intervals and we'd sit, have a beer and a cigarette and look out at the amazing views. There are places in Britain where you can look out and honestly believe you're on another planet: this is one of them. The lakes in the valley look paper thin like sheets of glass. Mist curls in over mountain tops like slow waves of curdling milk: it's just stunning. Combined with the adrenalin rush you get with being able to properly leg it and scramble up a mountain, the views are just head popping. There are a few photo opportunities on the way. One in particular I recall is a massive outcrop of stone that, if you sit astride it, makes it look like you have a massive knob made of rock. One for the boys, I guess. It's quite scary climbing onto it but if you've got the balls, you get, now fitfully named, The Rock Cock – all 15 or 20 feet of it. It's pretty hair raising and for crap's sake don't fall off it (you will likely die or spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair).

As we neared the top my two mate's took off in a direction I couldn't muster from my surroundings. This is when the classic “I [nearly/totally] died in the wilderness” story moment came into play: I wandered off along an unknown path and got stuck.

Tryfan may only be 915 metres high and you may be able to walk up it if you want to but you have to remember it's a fucking mountain: there are no “This Way” or “CAUTION: Rock!” signs or fences so you can easily wander from a 'walk up' face around to a 'scramble face' and before you know it be knee deep in unintended, unfriendly terrain. Especially if you're hitting your senior years. In my case I wandered from the 'scramble face' into the 'climbing face'. My legs were already shaking and pretty useless from hoiking that 30lbs up 900metres of 60 degree rock face. I called out for my mates but they were no where to be heard or seen. Stupidly (I'll never do this again) I spotted an opportunity to get to the top that looked a bit ropey; one that I thought I could handle, however. I was feeling brave and a bit Indiana Jones and didn't want to back track so, with rucksack, I decided I could lift myself up and over approximately 9 feet of square, smooth cut rock onto the summit of Tryfan.

I realised just from reaching up (I'm 6 ft 2 inches anyway) that there was little or no grip up there: just flat rock. Why, I don't know, but I chose to lift myself up - all in all about 210lbs – and shuffled my elbows onto the shelf. I thought that once I'd done that, the rest would be a simple case of scrambling over and I'd be done.

Silly boy. Of course, I got up to my elbows. But as I slowly tried dragging my upper body over and up onto the shelf I noticed that the corner of the shelf was pushing my body backwards rather than my own weight pulling me forwards onto the shelf as I had imagined. Also, I was being pushed backwards far enough to consider, very carefully, that I might fall. The backpack suddenly seemed to have been packed by Satan. It was creepy at the time as I recall the feeling that something was pulling, like a disembodied hand floating behind my head, at the backpack: trying to pinion me just enough to pitch me backwards into the air. As I tried and tried again I realised I was getting tired. I made the next classic mistake: I turned around and looked down.

From memory I'd say it was at least 25, maybe more, metres down onto jagged black and grey rock. I began to panic and tried to lower myself onto the ledge below but couldn't seem to find it with my feet. My legs were already jelly and I opted to trust in my less exhausted upper half.

That's about when my 'survival mode' just kicked in. We all have it: some of us remember it kicking in at some point in our past. Many of us don't remember it at all because it probably happens most often when we're drunk as hell. I looked ahead and imagined a spot there: I decided that spot had to keep coming toward me, no matter what – no matter the strain I placed on my body. I fixed my eyes and lifted. I battled with the weird disembodied hand effect as it gently picked at me, teasing me backward, keeping my eye unwaveringly on the spot in front of me until – eventually - I was bending forward over the shelf. I had to flat the palms of my hand on the rock and use friction to drag myself as there were no hand-holds. Eventually one came within reach: I gave it a good test tug and then hauled myself onto the shelf.

I lay there for what seemed like several minutes, considering how close I'd come to a falling death. I imagined the drive home for my mates; the news being broken to my family and friends. I actually felt ashamed at my carelessness. Eventually, though, I decided that I was lucky: it hadn't happened. Phew. I stood up on my watery legs and wandered over to where my mates were preparing to jumping from Adam to Eve.

“Hey Calv, where you been?”; “oh, just nearly killed myself over there.”

I slumped down on the rocks and watched as they jumped.

Adam and Eve are two rectangular rocks about 12 feet high at the top of Tryfan. They stand approximately 6 feet apart. With a decent camera and a reasonably good telephoto lense you can get a great shot of yourself bounding between the rocks like some mountain gazelle. If I was a gazelle at the time I was one that had nearly been a lion's dinner: my legs were shaking from exhaustion and my mind was whirling from post-traumatic-stress. They both made it over. It's a pretty ballsy jump. To your left you've got hundreds of feet worth of nasty rocky death (jumping, as the custom requires, from Adam to Eve – or the larger to the slightly smaller rock); to you're right you still have a fairly respectable 12 foot drop onto the inhospitable Tryfan summit floor. The six feet in front of you does seem to stretch out for an age when you're there. I did get up onto Adam to check it out but my legs were just too shaky: I was afraid I'd get onto Eve, have my legs buckle and then pitch into a nose dive down the southern face. I'd cheated death once that day, I'd no intention of trying to do so again.

Afterward we wandered around a bit and took in the views: fantastic sun setting behind clouds etc.etc. We thought maybe if we could get a few of us to lug a small fridge up there we could make a few bob selling cold beers. I seem to remember working out the potential profit margin and deciding it wasn't worth the effort. Now looking back I don't fancy being responsible for pissed people trying to get back down the hard way when, sober, they'd've probably walked.

We took the walkway back down but that was still fun as you can run it. Again, it's dangerous but fun. Once at the bottom we chased some sheep then got into our tents (without the sheep: we didn't catch any) with some beers and smokes and chatted under the stars. It was a great couple of days.

The campsites there don't tend to allow fires, unfortunately, but sitting around a stove is good enough to keep the chill off. They tend to be clean, tidy, with all the stuff you want/need. There's a shop and a pub that does good grub nearby, too.

So, I never got a picture of me jumping from Adam to Eve but I did earn my own personal “brush with death on a mountain” story: even if it was born out of stupidity (aren't they all, really?) and on one less than a kilometre high (you can fall ten feet and die, though). Good enough for me. The jump's only six feet, anyway. On the ground you could do it with your eyes closed: probably with your feet together. It's the giddying mountain views all around you that put you off: especially the one's that go down.

Stick together, don't take stupid amounts of weight, and make sure you stick to your attack face. Walk if you want to walk; scramble if you want to scramble. If you want to climb: take ropes and all that malarkey – that and some experience or professional guidance. Don't end up diving arse-first onto sharp rocks. At least not without a helmet and a rope.

by Calvin Lennox