Fear is a strong opponent. And can be downright cruel to you. Sometimes fear takes control over your brain. Feeds it with the wrong thoughts. A power that can be impossible to beat there and then.
The fear got to me and kicked me so hard. I just wanted to lie down in a fetal position and forget that a world existed around me.
But how did get there?
20 minutes earlier, at 10pm, I stood three meters away from the mountain top Skamtind. A mountain furthest west of Ersfjordtraversen at Kvaløya in Tromsø. My body frooze and refused to move one more step towards the top. My brain completely agreed.
Fear of heights, which I was sure had left me for good after several trips on some tough mountains, was suddenly back as a fast as lightning strike. I looked at the last few meters to the top, on the slippery rock on one side and the several hundred meter drop to ocean on the opposite side. I turned around.
Walked two steps. But for some reason I changed my mind just as quickly.
– Where should I go, I asked two French men who sat just below.
– Go left towards the edge and then to the right, and you will be on top, I got in response.
And just one minute later, I stood on the very spacious top, 884 meters above sea level and the farm Skamtind.
What a view. What a beautiful evening.
But it was impossible to enjoy it. And I don’t remember much from the time at the top. Perhaps not surprising, because the only thing that my brain could focus on was the fact that I had to go down the same way. Everyone knows that it is worse to go down than up.
I tried. Same way as I came up. Gave up. Tried again. Gave up.
Tried a different way. Gave up. Back to where I came up. Gave up.
Distress. Despair. Anger.
What can I do now? Alone at the top. On a mountain I had never been to before. And where my fear of heights had taken control over my body and brain.
Common sense was suddenly completely gone …
Wait. Did I hear the voices of the French? I was sure one of them had climbing shoes on. He can help me.
– Hall0?, I repeated much higher.
Then came the answer. Further down the mountain. They turned around and help arrived.
– Just come down here. Put the right leg here and hold the left hand here. I’ll support you.
I tried. But my fear didn’t want me to win. It didn’t matter if I had help from a French climber. The fear was too strong.
I felt so incredibly stupid and foolish. Why didn’t I go back down when I turned around just before the top? I said to my tour mates just one hour earlier – who didn’t go all the way to the top – that it didn’t matter if I didn’t make it.
– We’ll try again. I’ll show you, said the Frenchman.
Then I placed the right leg in the same place as before and both hands in crevices at the rock surface. And I let the left leg move slowly down the rock face.
– Only five more centimetres. I protect you.
The only thing on my mind right there and then was that if I fell backwards, I’ll take him with me in the fall. And we would die.
There. Finally I had solid ground under my left foot.
I was rescued. A huge relief filled my entire body.
One thing is certain, to have respect for the mountain is important. Next time my body and brain says no, I’m going to listen. It is more important to feel safe than standing on top if you ask me.
I have no problem supporting all those who choose to turn around just before the top of Skamtind.
The fear of heights should be taken seriously. And I assume you understand why I do not have any pictures of the area that got me into trouble. It was never on my mind to take any pictures.
Several sites on the web says that there is some scrambling on the top. Maybe a lot of hikers find it not to scary, but I felt doomed. Devoured by fear.
I admit it: Skamtind – you’re too tough for me …
This was the first time I visited you, but it will also be the last time.
At least the rest of the evening was magical. Northern Norway is so beautiful in the middle of summer when the midnight sun never sets.
PS! You should not say no to hike Skamtind based on my story. If you like to hike in the mountains, and like spectacular views, try Skamtind. Do you not have fear of heights, then you would love the view from the top.
Some more pictures: