My father had a lifelong fear of heights.

I didn’t know this.

Utah Summer.

I took him on an open cable car ride that climbed a mountain in Park City, Utah.

It was just one of the adventures I’d planned for him and my 2 brothers during their summer visit in the 1970’s.

We also took them to a rodeo, and a Willie Nelson concert. Not memorable.

But the 20 minute ride that took us from 6000 ft. at base to the 10, 000 ft. summit in an open sided gondola was most memorable.


My teenaged brothers were delighted, leaning out the open windows, gently rocking the car on that narrow cable, taking in the mountain air and sunshine.

Vintage cable car

Mason Maloof Designs.

My dad was turning white as a sheet. I noticed, but I assumed it was the heat.

He didn’t say a word, a front of fearlessness that was so characteristic.

Here is how I found out about his acrophobia.

At a party some twenty years later, he turned to some family friends with these words.

“Yep, I have a fear of heights, and my daughter there (pointing at me) took me to the top of one of the tallest peaks in Utah.”

He smiled at me as I sat in my version of shock and awe.

I had no idea.

This entry was posted in Entertainment, Family, Nature, Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

68 Responses to Altitude

  1. Evidently he wasn’t too scarred by the experience. 😃

  2. What a brave man and so sweet to go along and not say a word. A wonderful memory, Van.

  3. An experience he will never forget. 🙂

  4. Oh my, hands sweating just reading this Van!

  5. Jim says:

    us Dads are like that with our daughters. always hafta put on a brave face even if it almost kills us. my daughters aged me too. 😉

    • Understood, Jim.☺ The roads up to the ski area also made him nervous…sudden curves, deep drops off the side, no guard rails, etc. But… he was the one who taught me to drive…so there was a bit of pride. ❤️

  6. The V Pub says:

    Does a fear of ferris wheels count as acrophobia? I don’t like heights, either!

  7. LauraBelle says:

    I’m impressed he could do it. I am not afraid of heights but my sister is and nothing could have gotten her up there.

  8. Your father is more stoic than I am. No one is ever in any doubt about my fear of heights. My brother-in-law still mocks me for feeling wobbly at the top of a steep grass verge that was probably only two or three feet high.

    • Oh, my, and there are many hills in Scotland. I sometimes wonder where/how that fear evolves, Laura ? With my dad, it might have happened during the many flights on small WWII aircraft ? Not sure.

      • I imagine that could very well have been the crucible of your dad’s fear, Van. In my case, I’m just a weenie. I may have mild vertigo since I certainly feel wobbly up high. It’s about perspective for me so I felt entirely fine at the summit of Scotland’s highest mountain but was queasy on that grass verge. It’s definitely, therefore, about the interplay between balance and vision. I also need to feel firmly planted so a mountain is good but the Empire State Building not so much. Typing this out I realize none of my rationale is actually, well, rational but fears rarely are. Now I could tell you from where my clown phobia stems but the fear of heights is definitely just part of my nature rather than nurture I think.

      • Those clowns…no explanation needed ! ☺ Thanks for sharing, Laura. 💘

  9. Erika Kind says:

    Wow, what a brave man. He did not want you to be disappointed. Is that wonderful! I know how it feels when the panic rises I am afraid about heights too, but it got better over the years! I even stood on the edge of Grand Canyon and looked 3000 feet straight down. Nothing between me and the canyon. I am sure it was only the excitement to be there. Because only a few months later I was standing on a church tower with 90 feet and almost dying… lol!

  10. joey says:

    Oh boy. I don’t know if I could fake bravery when my kids are grown. I’ve gotten away from it these last few years. Your dad has my admiration.

  11. George says:

    Classy man, you’re dad..:)

  12. amommasview says:

    Hahaha… oh poor him! But I bet he loves thinking back to it!

  13. Val Boyko says:

    It’s amazing how we see our parents as human beings as we get older! Mine was a stoic character too 💛

  14. And all for his Children. That’s what make dads so special, Van.

    • It was all “on the job training” for him, Hugh. His father was gone by the time he was 8 years old. Makes his efforts all the more impressive, and garnered so much respect from his 6 children. Thanks. 💟

  15. I’m with your Dad

  16. lbeth1950 says:

    I wonder why he didn’t decline. I guess for the same reason I went on a Segue of Sarasota with my family. He didn’t want to ruin the fun. I was just awful. The tour leader put me in back so I wouldn’t kill anybody but myself

  17. How interesting that it took him 20 years to tell you. He went on that ride out of love, didn’t he?

  18. He’s such a good solid sport. He didn’t want to spoil the fun and I think he did it out of a good portion of love and not to lower himself before your eyes; pride. Warm read Van. It now makes me wonder about the things my dad might have feared but remained calm in the face of them.

  19. Van, I love your memories. I, too, freaked out when I took a gondola up Mammoth Mountain. Terrified me. Did it more than once. Just white knuckled it.

  20. Laura says:

    The secrets our fathers keep… 😯

  21. nimi naren says:

    Poor dear…how scared he must have been. But he was a great sport…and seems to have taken it rather well

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