BALANCED precariously on a wooden beam against a vertical rock wall, more than 30 metres above a darkening slate abyss in an abandoned mine.
You learn a lot about yourself at moments like that.
Hundreds of metres below the surface in the historic Cwmorthin Quarry, groups of intrepid explorers are taking on the already infamous new attraction from Go Below Underground Adventures in Snowdonia.
Mine to Mountain is a psychological and physical assault on the senses, a thrilling, exhausting and quite incredible endurance challenge designed by Miles and Jen Moulding.
‘Attraction’ is perhaps the wrong word. This is not a destination for day trippers – unless you arrive fit and prepared – and most fears will be covered on the day.
Enclosed spaces, darkness, heights, water, being underground, being way out of your comfort zone. Check, check, check.
The 14-hour route takes you 1,375ft below Tanygrisiau and Blaenau Ffestiniog to the deepest accessible underground point in the UK, before leading back out into daylight via a series of ferrata-style climbs, traverses and hidden pathways, some littered with stone and slate, others submerged in water.
And then? And then you take on mighty Snowdon, the highest mountain in England and Wales.
Along the way you are given a lesson in safety and survival, but also regaled with tales of the mine’s fascinating history.
The little Caban for example, where the ascent begins. This is where miners would congregate on their breaks to share stories, write poems and sing. The fabled home of the Eisteddfod, as the competition and camaraderie spilled out into the communities, bringing people together, inspiring a nation.
From there you will make your way up, and up again. Untouched sections of this vast cavernous reserve acting as ladders, natural walkways and steep inclines, each more difficult than the next, and all surrounded by deep vertical drops into oblivion.
Shrouded in black but for the light of head torches, you will scramble, surf mountains of scree, grab at walls, ropes and wade through groundwater, all the while passing old rail carts, candlesticks and remnants left behind when the mine closed.
Virtually untouched since the nineteenth century, it is a reality check.
Probably why this place is nicknamed ‘The Slaughterhouse’, because of the number of miners killed working there almost 200 years ago.
After seven taxing levels the trek emerges from the caves. Then its onwards, upwards to Snowdon.
Many thousands of people reach its summit every year, and that itself is an admirable achievement.
To do so after such an exhausting and exhilarating morning is a huge test.
The world-famous ‘Pyg track’ forms the final leg of this Ultimate Ascent. Climbing, clambering to the summit.
But as any walker knows, the way down is not necessarily easier than the way up.
Jolting, jarring stone steps along the Miners Track lay out the successful group’s path to glory.
A truly unique and gripping venture from the darkest underground depths to one of the most beautiful places on earth. This is a challenge unlike any other, and one you simply must experience. Add it to the bucket list.
The trek is ideal or groups looking to raise money for charity or as a team-building exercise.
For more information and to register your place on Mine to Mountain, visit www.go-below.co.uk/mine_to_mountain.asp