Are You Afraid of Heights?

View Over Masca, Tenerife

I’m not afraid of flying, nor do I feel nauseous when I look down from the top of a skyscraper. But as I walked along the narrow uneven paths to Finca Guergues in Tenerife, I suddenly lost my confidence in equilibrium and felt an irrational fear of slipping and falling down the gorge.

I closely watched each step I took and balanced my body against the unpredictable wind that waited for us around each corner. I tried not to look down into the gorge. But I did – I was curious. I wondered how deep the gorge may be. I guessed 800 meters – with too any sharp-pointed rocks. I would never survive that fall, I thought. And at that moment, for a minute, I paralyzed.

Narrow Paths, Teno Mountains (Tenerife)

I had been there before – my heart beat accelerates, my breathing quickens and overall I feel tense.

The only thought that dominated my mind was falling. I continued walking, but with every step I felt insecure – I doubted each movement I made. Part of my fear was because of the rushing wind that pushed me towards the gorge. But another part was caused by myself – I just didn’t trust in my own feet.

Does this make any sense?

No. Not really.

My fear of falling is irrational, as are so many other fears and phobias. It only hits me some times – when I particularly feel unstable on the ground (because of the wrong footwear or strong winds, for example) and am standing on a narrow path next to a cliff or, in this case, a deep gorge with sharp-pointed rocks. And even then, I still manage to keep on walking.

Walking Teno Mountains, Tenerife

I know what you’re thinking: If I have a problem with narrow paths and am afraid of falling down – Why oh why do I keep on going to these places? Well, it’s two things: the spectacular views (when I dare to look) and the proud feeling of having accomplished a several hours hike with an additional challenge.

Do you have a phobia? How do you deal with it?

PS: If you think you can handle the path and height in the pictures above, then you might want to try out the scariest path I’ve ever seen – El Camino del Rey (Check out the video here!).

Practical Information

Route: From Casas Araza to Finca Guergues (Tenerife, Spain) – circular
Elevation gain uphill: not much, approx. 120m
Elevation gain downhill: 120m
Length: 7 km
Duration: 2 hrs
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate (depending on the weather and how comfortable you are with nights!)
Wikiloc: If you feel like hiking a bit more, you can extend the route a bit more like this guy did:Finca Guergues.

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19 Responses to “Are You Afraid of Heights?”

  1. HayleyMay 5, 2011 at 12:31 AM #

    i have gained of fear of heights as i’ve gotten older. i’m okay flying, i’m okay on narrow paths but not with skyscrapers, and definitely not with carnival rides, with the exception of roller coasters. i wonder why that is? why certain things freak us out, and others don’t. i have a phobia of chalk though, and with that i just don’t use it or go near it. haha, random and weird, but whatever:)
    Hayley recently essay- standrews

    • KatherinaMay 5, 2011 at 1:39 PM #

      Phobia to Chalk? That’s a random one – You couldn’t be a teacher I guess!
      I agree with you, I think some fears grow with age. As a kid, I think we are just not conscious enough of the risk and so, don’t steadily think about things like “I’m going to fall down this hill”.

  2. ZhuMay 5, 2011 at 2:47 AM #

    My most terrifying experience was at the CN Tower in Toronto… you know, the glass floor. I *know* it’s safe to step in but it took me at least 20 minutes to decide myself! Irrational, isn’t it!
    Zhu recently posted..Splitting Hair on Haircuts in Canada

    • KatherinaMay 5, 2011 at 1:42 PM #

      When you wander into a skycraper, you can’t really see what’s underneath you, so you feel *safer*, I guess. I once read an article about an airline studying the possibility to make their aircrafts transparent, so that everyone could enjoy the full view. If that ever happens, I’m sure a lot of people will trade planes for cruises :)

  3. MeriMay 5, 2011 at 4:28 AM #

    Surprisingly, this has never happened to me. I have more “anxieties” than “phobias,” although as a mental health worker I’m aware that phobias are specific anxieties… but I do love a good scary hike!
    Meri recently posted..Of Woods and Word Nerds

    • KatherinaMay 5, 2011 at 1:44 PM #

      Lucky you! I still hope that the more I join those hikes, the more I will overcome that irrational feeling!

  4. CatiaMay 5, 2011 at 2:52 PM #

    The only real phobia I have is water, but it’s a big one! I’ve been trying to slowly get over it the last year by pushing myself a bit closer to the edge of the fear… walking on a long bridge, sleeping (or rather trying to sleep) in a botel etc. I’m soon heading to Jordan to visit the dead sea, water yes, but if I can’t sink I’m hoping it helps me get past the fear and enjoy the experience.
    Catia recently posted..Bratislava- Slovakia

    • KatherinaMay 6, 2011 at 1:48 PM #

      It’s great you’re doing a lot of effort to get over it! I’m sure that not sinking will help you overcome it. I’m looking forward to your pictures from Jordan!

  5. AyngelinaMay 5, 2011 at 7:21 PM #

    I am afraid of heights and for some reason it gets worse as I get older, maybe I have imagined even more ways to die :)
    Ayngelina recently posted..Where have all the hippies gone

    • KatherinaMay 6, 2011 at 6:09 PM #

      I fully agree! At least me, I read far too many news in Tenerife about people drowning in the sea and saw rescue helicopters fly into the gorges to rescue some hikers… I would have never thought about it when I was a kid!

  6. sarah, a lost featherMay 5, 2011 at 7:51 PM #

    first, gorgeous! second.. i’m sort of the same way! i’m not afraid of heights, but i am soo scared of falling from them. specifically when the surface is very flat and slanted. I was hiking out in southern Utah and the rock faces are soo flat. It started raining and I was nervous. I mean, one slip and that’s it.. you’ll slide and slide until you reach the cliff and then.. done. I guess I just deal with it by trying to convince myself that I know what I’m doing and that panicking won’t help me get across safely.

    i’m also scared of other people falling. Like, if I see a little kid walk up to a railing of an overlook I can’t watch them. Even with the railing, I always feel like they are going to fall. Strange fear haha
    sarah, a lost feather recently posted..Instagram Gallery

    • KatherinaMay 6, 2011 at 6:13 PM #

      That’s certainly a strange phobia: afraid of other people falling? :)
      But I can totally understand the fear you had when walking on the flat rock faces when it was wet… you’ll immediately think “this is going to be so slipery” = “I’m going to slip and fall” = “I’m going to die” !!

  7. PaulaMay 7, 2011 at 1:04 AM #

    Yes! You sum that up so nicely. That feeling you get, so unexpectedly, that paralyses you.
    Paula recently posted..A FAIRLY EVENTFUL WEEKEND- ALL IN ALL

  8. SuzyMay 8, 2011 at 6:04 PM #

    I get this feeling sometimes too on cliff drops. I was just in Ireland hiking Slieve League. They are supposed to be the highest sea cliffs in Europe. I kept imagining one slip of the rock. Perhaps the landscape is so extraordinary our imaginations can really run. Looks like a gorgeous place though.
    Suzy recently posted..Redhead Reviews- A Moment in Italy—Original Photography and Custom Cards


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