Male learning to sport climb with MSAA

The Psychology of Fear & Adventure

When things get a little scary, they also get more fun! Up to a point. Some people have trouble knowing where that line lies, but most of us have a healthy sense of self-preservation. If you can just press yourself to move into the fear a little, you’ll probably find that you get an extra hit of adrenaline. The heightened adrenaline gives you the ability to do things you might have believed were outside your ability and helps to fix your memories more firmly.

Climbing past your fears

We are hardwired to remember events that come with an emotional kick, whether that is joy, fear, sadness, excitement, or other intense emotions. It’s an evolutionary trick to help us learn from our experiences and remember things that stand out for future reference.

We are in the adventure business, so giving people great experiences and memories is a big part of the game. But people often come to us to be guided through an adventure to help modulate their fears about the activities. A well-trained guide knows how to settle fears down enough to make the wary guests more comfortable and also to know when to push a more confident guest a little more so they have a memorable experience without pushing too far. Operating outside the comfort zone makes an experience more intense and memorable.

The joy of going beyond

The most common fear we hear is a fear of heights as our most popular summer tour is the via ferrata, which is basically hiking and climbing up the side of a mountain on metal rungs, but with several safety devices in place. Different people state a fear of heights as both the reason to do and not to do it. The via ferrata is the tour that we get the most reviews (and most passionate reviews) about and it is precisely because there is the experience of fear of being up high on a rock face but balanced with the beauty of the views and the sense of accomplishment. Exhilaration, joy, wonder, fear, and fun all intermingled! These emotions are imprinting on the guests’ brains, to form lasting memories. And at the end when everyone summits, we get to experience the elation of the guests who have just conquered the via ferrata and their fear; it’s quite special.

So step out of your comfort zone and try something new. The memories are worth it!

Written by: Dan O’Keefe

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