Lonely Planet Writer

This video of a dad facing his fear of heights on an Irish cliff is an inspiration to all of us

Travelling to new destinations with their unique challenges can bring a certain level of anxiety to anybody. This video of an American tourist visiting Ireland is a reminder that by conquering your fears, you’ll be rewarded with incredible new experiences.

Cliff of Don Aengus, Inishmore
Are you brave enough to go to the edge of Dún Aonghasa? Image by Arne Kristiansen/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The video shows the uploader’s dad, Jim Gum, on the stunning cliffs of Dún Aonghasa on Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands. The prehistoric fort lies on top of a 100m-high cliff, often battling strong winds, even in sunny weather. The cliff face is totally unprotected and daring travellers can get an unrivalled – and terrifying – view of the rough seas of the Atlantic Ocean below.

Despite having an extreme fear of heights, he is determined to experience the spectacular views. His solution? Crawl along his belly in relative safety to the edge. At one point in the video, he says “I’m afraid!” but then continues along anyway. Jim, we salute you!

Why are so many people afraid of heights?

Despite many of us having an aversion to being exposed on high ground, true irrational phobia of heights – called acrophobia – is rare. Instead, many researchers believe most of us have a fear of falling rather than heights itself, and there is some evidence that it’s something innate in mammals. A 1960 experiment proved that many other animals and even human infants were reluctant to climb out on a glass floor where you can see a drop below.

In fact, many evolutionary scientists believe that having a fear of heights has contributed to the success of the human species and being afraid to fall off a great height is simply common sense that’s key for our survival.