Why A Fear Of Heights Shouldn't Stop You From Trying Rock Climbing

Get up and over your fears.

By: Amber Locke
May 25, 2016

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I absolutely hate working out. If I set out to do something simply to "get in shape," I'll inevitably quit before I see any results. Running on a treadmill, sweating through a spin class and lifting weights in a gym seem almost as appealing as gouging my own eyes out with a rusty spoon. Instead of keeping up with weight goals or attempting to crunch my way to the perfect body, I find ways to stay active that entertain me. I love to be outdoors, so naturally a scenic hike is my favorite way to get my heart rate up and feel the burn in my thighs. A few years ago, I met some people that would change the way I worked out altogether. Climbers.

Once they convinced me to try it, I was hooked (caribinered, rather) and began seeking out climbing on my own. I found gym climbing to be convenient and safe, but when I have a partner with the right gear, hitting the real rocks is, in my opinion, a way more fun mind game.

Several people have asked me whether or not someone who is afraid of heights could climb. My answer will always be, "Absolutely!" Here's why:

1. Being a climber doesn't mean being fearless.

One thing I learned from the very first moment that I grabbed onto a wall was that I am, indeed, afraid of heights. I hadn't realized this fear beforehand, but my heart raced and my palms sweat every time I went climbing. This, my friends, is exactly why I keep doing it, though. One of the most exhilarating moments of my life happened at the top of a two-pitch climb I never would have imagined I could finish (and I did!). 

2. Your brain will stop you before your body quits.

The hardest part about climbing for me is not necessarily the physical aspect. That part, I enjoy because I get a full body workout without even realizing it. My mind is often more focused on keeping myself calm and honed into the next movement. There have definitely been moments that my partners have shouted words of encouragement as I clutched a wall in a panic because I lost focus and looked down.  


Photo: Lindsay Daniels

3. Trust.

Despite this debilitating fear, I keep coming back to the sport because I have learned to trust the gear, as well as my partners. Learning to trust comes along with learning about the gear you have to use to participate. When I rented a harness at the climbing gym, I was always uneasy about how safe I was in the used gear. I gained a whole new level of trust after I purchased my own harness and got to know exactly when and where it gives while I'm climbing.

It is also imperative that you trust your climbing partners and keep one another safe. It's always a good idea to double (triple, if it makes you feel better) check one another when you're tying in.

4. Don't let fear keep you grounded.

I don't know that "conquering" my fear of heights is even possible, but I will definitely keep challenging it. My suggestion: if you have the slightest interest in climbing, you should definitely try it out. You may just discover your new favorite way to get high.

Cover photo: Lindsay Daniels

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.