fear of heights, conquered

If you have read a few posts on this blog about my head-game then you will know that I have been battling a fear of heights for a long time. Well after a lot of searching and a lot of very hard mental work I am happy to announce that I’m no longer scared of heights. In fact it’s totally the opposite – I enjoy being at height and even in exposed positions. Ok let’s go back to find out how I have finally beaten this.

The injury

Those who are close to me will know that I had quite a serious injury back in January this year which resulted in surgery and no climbing for me for a few months – no pulling hard or hard core-work for at least until August. So as I couldn’t climb hard, which was my main staple of training diet, then I had to do something.

The ultimate course

Last year I spoke to Will at Will4Adventure about his Overcome Your Fear of Heights courses and promised both Will and myself that I’d sign up for one to give it a go. Well as I couldn’t climb anything too difficult, nor could I ride my mountain bike, I decided that it would be a good time to try it. So I signed up, and I went, and I had loads of fun with loads of great people.

So what happened?

The course ran over a weekend with the main part on the Saturday, followed by an optional day climbing in the Peak District to re-enforce what we had learned on the Saturday. I signed up for the whole weekend, as did everyone else who was on the course with me.


Saturday started off with a morning with Brian McHugh, some chat, some coffee, some NLP and some EFT techniques. I won’t go into too much detail on those subjects here because that’s not really the point of the post. The point is that pretty much everyone on the course doubted that those techniques alone would be enough to conquer our fear of heights. Everyone who doubted was, in fact, wrong. Still, at lunch, after our morning with Brian, nobody really truly believed that we were ‘cured’ of our fears so we then ventured out to Millstone to meet up with Will for the next part of the course.

The abseils

So we met up with Will, his assistant and Monty, his lovely dog and after a brief chat we ventured over to some steep ground and rigged up an anchor for our first abseil. One by one we all gave it a go and slowly started to think ‘hey, that wasn’t so bad’. Then we moved onto an old ruin where Will had set up the next, larger, abseil. One by one we all tied in and gave it a go. The smiles on our faces grew as we started to really think ‘why am I not scared?’. After some more chat and some excitable second goes, we ventured over to Laurancefield Quarry, just over the way from Millstone, where we were met with a 12m or so piece of rock. We all looked up, nervously. Again, one by one, we all had a go at this rather long abseil and we all enjoyed it. It was the strangest feeling. Some even went up for a voluntary second go as they enjoyed it that much – I was one of them.


On the second day we headed over to Stanage Popular and began warming up on smaller pieces of rock and introing the others to climbing shoes and the techniques of moving over rock. Today was kind of my comfort zone in that respect because obviously, I’ve climbed quite a bit there before. What wasn’t in my (old) comfort zone however was the climb that we had been promised at the end of the day.

After some small rock work and easy scrambling we ventured over to our last challenge of the weekend – the trad route that we had been promised. I was a little apprehensive as I knew that this would be where I find out if the course had worked its magic. Standing at the base of the route, my old self would have been incredibly nervous by now but amazingly I put on my rock shoes, my harness and volunteered to go first. Bonkers. I would have never done that, before. I danced up the route as it was only a lower graded route as most hadn’t climbed before that day, but the main thing for me is that when I got towards the top of the 20m route, I felt totally comfortable and wasn’t even thinking about my situation. Now it’s important to say that even though I wasn’t scared, I was aware of what I was doing and all of my safety messages in my head were still present, but there was no unnecessary fear. I had climbed the route and I had totally enjoyed it. To climb a 20m route and to have fun doing it has been a long-standing goal of mine for a very long time. I had done it. So after everyone else had had their turn I jumped up for another go and was told, because I climbed it so easily last time, that I had to climb it one-handed. I embraced the challenge and it was done. I hand-on-heart wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing that before this course.

Then what?

Well during the course, Will asked each one of us for a list of 5 things that we will do when we go away from the course as it’s important to keep on re-enforcing the positive feelings of enjoying being at height. So since the course I’ve been busy ticking away at my list and have so far ticked off 3 of the 5. The other 2 will have to wait until we have some dry weather and some longer days next year. The first 3 were: climb on the Upper Tier of the Roaches – something that I had shied away from previously due to the longer, and sometimes exposed natures, of the routes there. Well I climbed Maud’s Garden with a huge smile on my face, as well as many other routes up there since, up to VS. I’ve also scrambed the North Ridge of Tryfan and I’m constantly climbing indoor routes now we have the darker nights. Both, again, of which I wouldn’t have done previously.

So my advice is to all of you out there who have a fear of heights, get in touch with Will at Will4Adventure and get signed up on his course. You will overcome your fear and have fun in the process.

Thanks, Will, your course has enhanced my climbing more than any other training technique or book that I’ve tried over the years. Absolutely brilliant.

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