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How hard is it to get down Mt. Fuji if you're already scared of heights?

by Sha Steph
(Yokosuka, Japan)

Which is worse? Going up or coming down?

Any suggestions?

Comments for How hard is it to get down Mt. Fuji if you're already scared of heights?

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Aug 15, 2014
"Just Don't Do It" :-)
by: Gary Wolff

What an interesting question, Sha.

You'll probably call me a smart aleck when I simply recommend that you "Don’t Look Down!" Ha-ha.

No seriously, acrophobia, an extreme or irrational fear of heights, affects different people in different ways, but generally only between 2-5% of people suffer from it, with women twice as likely to get it as men.

Many people have successfully recovered from the fear of things as radical as bungee jumping and paragliding by taking part in large group experiments combining neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and hypnotherapy.

Another method for treating the fear of heights that's shown promise is called the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) — involving a curious repetitive tapping of the forehead and other longitudinal meridian (acupuncture) points on the body.

And though I don't recommend it, many different types of medications have been used to treat the fear of heights, including anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines, and others like antidepressants and beta-blockers.

On a more practical level, you might just look for a public sports stadium near your home where you can practice walking up and down the bleachers. Although some sections of the main Yoshida Trail above the 9th Station are a bit steep, nothing on Mt. Fuji is even remotely as scary as Japan's Daikiretto in the Northern Japan Alps.

You could also hire mountain climbing guides, who are trained & experienced at taking plenty of people with a fear of heights up Mt. Fuji. I've received some good reports about Fuji Mountain Guides. Just make sure you let them know beforehand about your fear.

To answer your main question, I've always found it harder getting down, not because of any fear of heights, but because of pain in my knees and the fact that I usually slip and fall a few times on the way down due to the loose volcanic rocks, as I did when I climbed up Mt. Fuji's Fujinomiya Trail in August 2012.

One piece of final advice is (here I go being a smart aleck again), :-) if nothing you try helps overcome your fear of heights, then as a last resort, you can always follow the opposite of Nike's advice: "Just DON'T do it!" :-)

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