or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Fear of Heights and Breck?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
We are planning a trip to Breck over the holidays and another family is considering coming with us. They are first-timers and will probably only ski a couple of days (one day in lessons and the next with us.) The mother has a fear of heights and is concerned about the lift. I think she would be okay with participating in the lessons and then just taking the second day to enjoy a spa with my wife. This is our first time to Breck so we don't know much about the ski school locations. Are chair lifts required for beginners at Breck or do they use the surface lifts at the base of Peak 9? Any other good advice for us?
post #2 of 11

You might try posting this query in the Resorts, Conditions and Travel forum rather than here in "Instruction and Technique" in order to increase your chances of helpful feedback.
Many Bears who've been to Breck, a very popular destination, might not check the Technique/Instruction area of the board.

I've been to Breckenridge once and it seems a place tailor-made for your group. A huge swath of flattish white boulevard under and all around a Super Six chair (Beaver Run?) there at the base is great terrain for never-evers.

Good luck.

[ November 12, 2003, 08:04 AM: Message edited by: ryan ]
post #3 of 11
Hi Rod--

There is a surface lift for beginners at the base of Peak 9--should be no problem there. You'll find that most, if not all, of Colorado's big resorts have some sort of surface lift for beginners.

On the other hand, after that first day or so, she'll want to go higher, and that means chairlifts or gondolas, just about everywhere. For what it's worth, from my experience, most people who claim to have a fear of heights find that the chairlift is not nearly as bad as they had feared. They may have a lot of anxiety about it, but once on the lift, more often than not, the fear vanishes quickly. Like fear of flying, the anticipation is usually much worse than the actuality!

If she can muster the courage to give it a try, I suspect she'll be very pleased. By all means, consider keeping her with an instructor at least through the first chairlift ride. Instructors are generally pretty good at helping people over their fear of the chairlift--almost everyone has at least a little concern about it, at first.

Good luck!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #4 of 11
Once she gets on a chair/gondola, let her sit in the middle, and keep her looking forward.
post #5 of 11
I find most fearful folks prefer to sit on one side or another of the chair to have something to hang onto right from the beginning of the ride.
post #6 of 11
If she winds up interested in going higher on the mountain, but thinks the chair lifts don't fit the bill; take her over to Keystone and let her ride the gondola up. That way she will know she can ride it back down if desired, and she will see the kind of stuff that keeps most of us addicted to skiing.
post #7 of 11
I'm somewhat fearful of heights but really haven't had trouble on lifts. Unless the person is really phobic I think they'll be fine as long as you don't stick them on a lift that gets big air.
post #8 of 11
It's mind over matter! I am afraid of heights. A lot of times I will talk non-stop to the poor people sharing the chair with me. If alone I generally sing (that's worse believe me). I always try to remember what is at the other end of the chair I am riding and then I am ok. If the chair stops and begins to rock....well that is another story.
post #9 of 11
I'm scared of heights, but chairs aren't really a problem...unless they are being blown badly by the wind.
I think beginners who are scared of heights get the chair thing because they are generally anxious about the whole ski-deal; weird environment, feeling of imminent disaster etc.

When I have people who've claimed to be scared of heights, you get them chatting about stuff, and looking around and up, rather than down. That seems to do the trick.

Fear of heights is more of a nuisence when skiing! Some steep runs have me freezing up, and moguls are bad, they are like being up on a stool.
post #10 of 11
I am another one with severe height phobia. Chairs do at times bother me. I am typically OK if it has a safety bar that I can pull down. Most (all?) at Breck have a safety bar.
post #11 of 11

Last season, I had the privilege of teaching a Mom with a severe height phobia. This wonderful lady could make beautiful parallel turns, but was absolutely petrified by the chair lift. We started the lesson like beginners walking up and skiing down short sections before I was able to talk her onto the beginner lift which was a mind numbing 4 minutes long and max of 25 feet in height. #1 rule - eyes closed, #2 rule - firm (ok death) grip on the safety bar, #3 rule - instructor must have one arm around the shoulder and the other one holding hands (plus holds both sets of poles), #4 rule - non stop conversation, #5 rule - eyes open only when within 3 feet of getting off, #6 rule - slow the runs down to max time in between lift rides. She loved skiing, but she was physically shaking on every chair ride. She chided me for every trick I used to get her mind off the lift, but was delighted at the bottom of every run. I'm certain she did not ride the chair after the "lesson" was over.

For some the fear of heights is so strong, chairlift riding is just not going to happen. Many that are fearful can be talked into riding the chair at least once. I find it helps to admit my past fear or heights (even the expert gets afraid) and to state with authority that being in a seated position and looking at the next chair ahead minimizes the sensation of height. My last ditch argument is that fear of heights is a natural, evolution thing (people that were fearful lived - people that weren't didn't) and needs to be worked on to overcome. Chairlift riding is a wonderful way to do this because they are slow, just a few minutes long and don't get real high. (at least for beginners [img]graemlins/angel.gif[/img] )

Depending on the strength of the fear, I strongly encourage positive group feedback at the end of the first day (or even lunch) focused on her courage (if she's deathly afraid) or her skiing skills. For many, the thrill of skiing outweighs the fear of heights. For this reason, I recommend at least an hour or two of skiing on the second day. This can be a huge boost to skill development.

If Mom falls into the "no way I'm getting on the lift, PERIOD!" category, it's important to be prepared to redirect with "no problem - let's do" ... snowshoe, cross country, snowmobile, dog sled, dinner sleigh ride, etc. (all available at Breck). Other resorts have snow tubing, which is a great way to introduce the fun of sliding as a possible means of transitioning to skiing in the future. The important point is to have her give it a try. If it does not work out, there are plenty of fun things to do. Breck is such a cool place, one should not let a fear of heights deny you the mountain experience. You don't have to get on a lift to experience the mountain.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching