Being afraid of heights is natural, healthy and sensible. Many climbers feel worried if they’re high up and not attached to anything solid, such as a cliff.
Climbing teaches you to separate the times when you should worry (say, standing in your street shoes on the sloping wet grass of a very high cliff) from the times when, despite being high up, you’re safe. Ropes and other climbing equipment are able to take many times your weight: used properly, you can be as high up as you like and feel completely secure.
Understand the Safety System
Overcoming a fear of heights is one of the biggest climbing challenges for lots of people. Often times that fear comes from an ignorance of the climbing safety system. Once you understand that every precaution we take as climbers, including tying into the rope, clipping the rope to anchors in the rock, and using belay devices to hold the rope and safeguard a climber, is to protect you from the dire consequences of falling then the novice climber is able to begin to let go of that fear of heights.
Take Baby Steps
Take baby steps if you are afraid of heights when you’re rock climbing. Check your tie-in knot, usually the figure-8 follow-through knot, and make sure it’s tied correctly. Check your belayer to make sure that the rope is loaded correctly through the belay device and that he is alert and watching you. Then let go of that fear and start climbing.
Build Tolerance by Climbing Higher
Lastly, if you’re afraid of heights, follow the advice that I always give beginners who tell me that they’re afraid of high places—Don’t Look Down! The amazing thing is that it actually works. If you climb enough, you will probably get over your fear of heights and you will begin to relish the eagle’s eye views that you find high on cliffs and mountains.