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Need to get over Scared of heights

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I've finally convinced the family that we owe ourselves a trip to the slopes this winter. And have booked up at Bansko in Bulgaria. After some lessons on the local plastic slope we are all happy with using tow bars.

Unfortunately the missus has a dislike of heights (although she loved a tandom paraglide after the initial scare), and is vowing at the mo that she won't be going on chair lifts and gondola's. Both of which I need to help her overcome, we need to use them to get full benefit of the slopes.

Anyone overcome similar fears.

Any suggestions, recommendations (short of dragging her screaming and kicking...) or antidotes greatly appreciated.

Thanks
Neil
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stackem evs, Mr HH has a thing about heights too....it took me ten years just to persuade him to go skiing at all!! He finds that chair lifts are not a problem except for the odd one that swings high above a valley or runs along the edge of a mountain with long view down across the valley. So I'd suggest that you check with someone that knows the resort so that you're forewarned of any that might be a problem and avoid them until she gets a bit of confidence.

His main problem has always been gondolas....and the answer to this has just been perseverance! Some are better than others, it just depends on the way that they move, he just gets on and grits his teeth.....fortunately the thrill of skiing has been enough to make him overcome his fear. Many resorts it's possible to avoid the gondola if you're prepared to take a longer, slower way up the mountain so check out your piste map and plan your route carefully.

Hope that helps you reassure her.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Some Red Bull perhaps?

One of our party froze just before doing a little cornice jump last season. It took about 10 mins for the guide to coax him down. I later found out there was a hypnotherapist in our party, but she said hypotherapy would not have worked while he was in that state.

I'm sure hypnotherapy would work, given time. Does it work online though, lets try: You are feeling sleeeeepy....your eyes are getting heavvvvy....
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Kit Wong wrote:
I'm sure hypnotherapy would work, given time. Does it work online though, lets try: You are feeling sleeeeepy....your eyes are getting heavvvvy....


That sort of hypnotherapy works great. I sit at my office desk and I start regressing..... I'm feeling sleeeepy, I'm feeling bored.... I want to go home..... I want to go out and play..... I want my security blanket....
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stackem evs, if she can do a tandem paraglide I don't see anything on the mountain being as scarey as that!

I wondered a bit about heights and stuff when I started ski=ing (only 4 years or so ago). I found the sliding down the hill bit so thrilling that any minor fear of heights was quickly forgotten, it helps if you're in a class because you sort of follow the leader blindly. Our instructor sort of directed us up the mountain without leaving any space for queries like - "How do I get off at the end of this chairlift?"!
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You could try a large cable car to start with (if there is one) and stand right in the middle so she can't see out of the windows. After a while of getting used to the feeling of the movement, a gondola might be easier.
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Quote:

Some Red Bull perhaps?

Is this to give her wings to fly up the mountain? At least then she could stop for a breather when required.

Seriously - I was terrified of heights too but once I realised I loved skiing so much and the only way up was in a Gondola I soon got used to the fear. rolling eyes
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
If the Missus can tolerate a tandem skydive I doubt she's afraid of heights per se - it's probably the fear of feeling that the equipment won't keep her safe.
I'm wired in this manner. I can skydive all day long & love abseiling (leaning back into secured harness waahey!), but am chicken scared of rock climbing (if I fall it's gonna hurt a bit when the safety ropes bite in & I whack up against the rock, ouch).

I image if you could find a way of strapping the Missus into the gondola/chairlift with the same sense of emotional safety harness and physical reassurance as she got when she paraglided, her fear of gondolas would go "poof".

Maybe remind her that she uses loads of equpiment to scale heights every day without worrying about it - Do elevators scare her? If not, try telling her the equipment's similar for gondolas. I assume you're flying to the snow - try telling her a gondola's only as likely as the plane to fall down... on second thoughts, that might stop YOU getting to the snow entirely Wink

And, once she's finally out there on the slopes watching you and everyone else dissapear happily up the chairlift (leaving her on her own) she'll get the idea that they're ok.

Or try embarressment - Point out that even little kids ride chairlifts.

I do like Ian Hopkinson's idea - cleverly sidle her up to a chairlift & get her on it before she's had a chance to contemplate how scarey it might seem. The fear can't kick in if it's not given the chance to.

If all else fails add a lot of alcohol to the Red Bull.
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Manda wrote:
If the Missus can tolerate a tandem skydive I doubt she's afraid of heights per se - it's probably the fear of feeling that the equipment won't keep her safe.
Maybe remind her that she uses loads of equpiment to scale heights every day without worrying about it - Do elevators scare her? If not, try telling her the equipment's similar for gondolas. I assume you're flying to the snow - try telling her a gondola's only as likely as the plane to fall down... on second thoughts, that might stop YOU getting to the snow entirely Wink

What you say is very true Manda, it is more a fear of what she doesn't have control of. She agreed to go tandem paragliding cos she was sick of me always on such a high after flying (regular pastime - 1 flight and your on a high all day), after the fear of standing on top of the hill, strapping in and the initial running off the hill (screaming for all she was worth), she truely loved it. And this is the reason she's agreeing to the skiing.

But she doesn't like planes (that takes some work), so I'm working on the godolas are outdoor lifts, not worked yet, but I'll keep at it. She's also addiment she'll fall out of chairlifts and won't take my word they're safe, that might take a little bit more coaching. Maybe take the kids on there once then try the embaressment angle.

Cheers all
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stackem evs, as a novice skier, in addition to the fear you mentioned (riding aerial lifts), I would bet you $10, she probably has other numerous other fears all operating at once, e.g., speed, falling, getting lost, being cold, family not stopping when she wants to stop, ridicule, fear of holding others back, fear that someone will take her to the top of the mountain and leave her to her own devices to get back down, fear of open spaces, fear of kids swinging or bouncing on the next chair, fear of not being able to turn "those long things on my feet", etc. One has to be aware that some of these are likely operating, recognize which ones, and act accordingly.

There has been lots of discussion of this topic over on the forums of www.epicski.com. Simply do a forum search on the word, "fear".

As an instructor, I see these sorts of fears practically every time I teach, and work hard to help my students overcome them using many different techniques ranging from choice of terrain, slow desensitization, traverses and bullfighter turns, short skis, etc. Logic helps, but never can work alone. If you ever want to go skiing with her again, stick away from embarrassment or "throw her in the deep end of the pool" techniques.

My first suggestion is for the two of you to read the book:

In the Yikes! Zone: A Conversation With Fear
by Mermer Blakeslee
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0525946381/qid=1098799002/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-3574611-4754512?v=glance&s=books&tag=amz07b-21

In Bulgaria, I don't know how successful you will be at what I am going to suggest, but if you were coming to the States, I would strongly recommend that when you get to the resort, you contact either the ski school supervisor (or, as a 2nd choice, a SS supervisor), have them suggest a instructor knowledgeable in handling fear. Give your wife several days of lessons (minimum) with that instructor. Often, women instructors are better for woman guests, and this is especially true in the case of fearful students.

You should get a daily briefing from the instructor on what worked, what didn't, how you can help, etc.

Let us know how it goes, if you have more detailed questions, etc.

Cheers,

Tom / PM
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Cheers Tom / PM,

I can see where you are coming from, but I don't think this is the issue in this case. Prior to booking the holiday we had a couple of family instructor sessions on our local dry slope, and these turned out better than I could have hoped, once everyone had got used to the idea of the planks, stopping, turning, falling over etc, and using the butt tow bar, the sessions really went down well, which is why everyone has agreed and looking forward to the holiday.

With her it is more a fear of heights and not being in control, such as aeroplane flying, which she will do but hates. Whereas once got her up on a tandom paraglider, getting a chance to turn and glide along above the top of the slopes she loved it.

Because it is cheap enough to do in bulgaria, I have booked our own instructor to teach the family for 4hrs a day for 6 days (Total £150 - excellent). So we have more freedom in where we go and how much we do. I'm hoping once she has faith in him, she will see and accept that she will be safe on the equipment, like flying in a plane she will accept she needs to do it. And over the week will get used to it.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
stackem evs, Firstly, you may find this hard to believe, but although I'm a prefessional ski teacher I suffer from vertigo! Shocked

The question is: is your wife's fear a fear or a phobia? They are very different and need to be treated differently. Vertigo is a phobia, hypnotherapy works well, (it did for me) but you need to find a good hypnotherapist, one you can relate to. No amount of bullying, persuading, encouraging etc. will help because your concious mind cannot control a phobia - and it's very embarassing! If she feels the urge to throw herself off high places, then it could be vertigo. If she's having a problem then she might feel dizzy, nautious, her legs might shake, and she may even lose conciousness.

If it's fear then she can be gradually de-sensitised and will get over it. Start by looking out of windows. Look down your stairs. Walk across footbridges. Find a short and low chairlift (ask locals) and start with that. Get her to look straight ahead & fix her eyes on the mountain. On a cable car get her to stand in the middle of everyone and look at her feet. Ask her how many times she read about skilift accidents in the papers/on TV - there are hardly any and the percentage is miniscule when you consider the number of people on the number of lifts in the world.

DO NOT GO ON THE LONDON EYE - that's seriously scary because it's clear all round. Lifts that are solid below hip/waist level are much easier.

If you want any more suggestions you can PM me or email me via my website or my profile. I don't want to bore everyone else rigid. Little Angel
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Hi Easiski,

I believe its what you describe as fear, as mentioned in my previous email, I believe it is a fear of something not really known about or used to, and a fear of not being in control.

As you suggest, I'm hoping there is short lower ski lifts we can go on first and get used to. In Bansko where we're going, I don't think there are any large cable cars, only 4 person gondolas, which I don't know if are better or worse than chair lifts.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions, I'm sure with time as she gets used to the idea, and seeing everything work it will be overcome.
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easiski wrote:
DO NOT GO ON THE LONDON EYE


That's interesting....I've always wanted to do the London Eye but haven't because of Mr HH, I wondered if he'd have a problem....obviously the answer is "Yes"! He did go up the Eiffel Tower with me once....the resulting tremors, grey face and time spent cowering in the lift area weren't worth it! You're so right about the difference between a fear and a phobia, he's definitely phobic and there's no rational explanation why he can stand at the top of a ladder, but can't go up in a glass lift.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
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Yeah, I shoudn't go reaching your nearest hypnotherapist just yet (unless the wife lets you do such things with strangers... Laughing )

Incidentally she sounds much like many novice skiers - everyone adult learner I know (all 2 of them and 1 of me, who recall what it felt like when they first visited a ski resort, c.f. the guys who've been skiing since before they could walk) said they were initially nervous about the chairlift, the gondolas, how to get on & off it, what to do if it suddenly stopped mid-way, where the hell has the ski instructor gone, where are my gloves/googles/poles, how do I find my way from the hotel to the bar.... Well, that's was me, anyway. You might like to add children to the list of missing things....

The skiing's the easy bit.

With any luck by the end of the week your wife will feel familiar enough with all the palaver of that skiing entails (including the actual skiing) that it loses it's fear factor.

But for your own sanity, keep stchoom & allow the ski instructor to deal with the wife's various fears!!! The wife will be used to telling you to bug off, but she'll feel less inclined to disobey the instructor!

Best wishes - hopefully the wife will soon be gleefully whizzing past you & the offspring.
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Manda, to convince them how much they would like it, I arranged a family lesson on our local dry slope, and only half way through that my youngest (6) was ignoring me and only listening to the instructor (the missus is a bit more diplomatic...)

She does have a serious fear of heights and not being in control, but I'm hoping that after a few days the fear of ski lifts, gondolas will have gone..... Probably to be replace with following me off piste.
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I should think the fear will go quickly.

In the meantime, before your holiday, let the wife fantasise about sliding down nice soft powder & riding the nice safe drags. Less said the better, probably. She no doubt is already winding herself up about the chairlifts and nothing you say now will change how she feels.

However £10 says she's riding the chairlifts by the second day of your holiday. If not, you'll always have someone to ride the nice safe drags with!

Happy holidays.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Manda, I don't want to seem disrespectful, but it sounds as though what you and your friends sufferered from was normal "new thing" anxiety. The fear stackem evs, is describing is more serious than that, and people with serious fears (especially about being out of control) need to be treated gently and de-sentsitised gradually.
stackem evs, It may take more than one week's ski-ing to really get her 100% over it, but persevere. She can and will get used to the heights concerned, however I really do urge you to try every lift first to check it out! Also, in 4 person gondolas, make sure she's facing uphill in both directions.
Your 6 year old son is quite correct, by the way, he should listen only to the instructor and not to you!!! Twisted Evil
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I have two fears when out skiing.

The first is a minor fear which arises when going up lifts that go over high ground e.g. the peak chair at Whistler. There's also a strange chair at Val d'Isere that goes up over and down the otherside of a ridge which is a bit strange too - you don't often go downhill on a ski lift. I try and natter to the others on the lift to distract myself. Smile

Secondly I have that freeze-effect when standing on a steep unfamiliar slope, which a ski instructor takes you down. Many of these slopes have a narrow entrances where you can't turn and just have to 'go with it'. I can tell you, I'm always the last to go on those. Shocked

It's never so bad doing the run the second time though...

Being with a ski instructor that knows your ability really helps. That way I can argue with the instructor, rather than argue with my friends/family....plus it's much easier trying new things in a ski class of your own ability who have the same fears as yourself. Cool
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Snowy, I remember that chair a Val d'isere - Very odd feeling the 1st time your use it. I guy I used to ski with used to try and sleep on the chairs because he didnt like heights. maybe a blind fold or blinkers like they use for race horses will do the trick- just a thought rolling eyes
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stackem evs wrote:

Unfortunately the missus has a dislike of heights (although she loved a tandom paraglide after the initial scare), and is vowing at the mo that she won't be going on chair lifts and gondola's.

Well, if she plucked up the courage to try a paraglide - and enjoyed it then I don't think she has a thing to worry about Smile Sounds like she has more b@lls than most people!!

I go rock climbing and hang-gliding. Yet when I stand on top of a tall building I get quite nervous indeed! I think the trick is to look at the equipment you're using and learn to trust it.

Just get her to look at the thickness of the cables and the huge chunks of steel. They're not going to break.

My wife had a similar concern beforehand too - but she overcame it after just a couple of rides.

David
PS I bet the vowing is just an excuse to make you 'persuade' her - chocolates and promises of a shopping trip can help!!
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Snowy, I too, remember that chair well. I went on it when I was really bad with my vertigo (before hypnotherapy) - oh boy! It didn't help that some locals just in front of us in the queue were jumping off it on the ridge to ski (I don't know what I didn't look!) Shocked

Now, I quite enjoy going down in a chairlift - I find it relaxing, but can still have a "moment" if it stops and I'm on my own. Shock
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Sorry to dig this one up again! I've had a sudden onset fear/phobia of ski lifts. Up until this February I loved lifts, rode them just for fun with the wee one (peak to peak glass bottom is the best!), and loved to do the rollercoaster arms and scream on that Val d'Isere chair we all love.

Thanks to a scary experience on a telecabin in Feb, followed by those youtube videos from Georgia (thanks for sharing!), and other videos following that (thanks again!) I'm petrified of lifts now. I can't do telecabins, hate gondolas now, and can only ride lower chair lifts. It's so bad that I had to be skidooed of a hill in France last month (how embarrassing) as the only way down was up a chair lift and I had a panic attack. It's really bad and I'm so angry with myself for getting in this state!

Action badly is needed before next season. Can anyone please suggest a good hypnotherapist? Preferably one anywhere that can do skype or in Scotland?

Thanks in advance Embarassed
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@Canuck, I had a season where, following a rather unpleasant incident where I was nearly thrown from a high chair, I found myself rather nervous when chairs stopped. Over the summer it passed.

Maybe time is all you need?

(Does hypnotherapy really work?)
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@Canuck, hypnotherapy is dubious at best. If you're having anxiety attacks then talk to your GP and get referred for some appropriate, medically proven, treatment.
My experience with an irrational fear of mine was a course of Cognitive Behavoural Therapy (which is a talking therapy), which I found to be both effective and free! My company health insurance paid, but I think I could have had it on the NHS.
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@stackem evs, @Canuck, if it doesn’t work out with chair lifts, you can always ski in Scandinavia Smile I think you could ski 80% of Trysil, Norway without going on a chair. And there are a lot of smaller resorts in Sweden with only drag (anchor) lifts eg Storlien, Abisko, Hemavan (got its first chair this year, but you can ski the whole area without it, and we had a fantastic week there at Easter 2017).
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@under a new name, ...I do a great deal of climbing and ars=ing about on the hill...and occasionally have a really powerful desire to jump OFF chairlifts. Turns out it is a form of vertigo called 'high place phenomenon'. Bonkers. https://www.nbcnews.com/healthmain/weird-urge-jump-bridge-explained-424037 and https://www.headspace.com/blog/2017/04/09/high-places-phenomenon/
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@valais2, oh, yes. I have that too. As do both my brothers.
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