Pat and I belong to a hiking group as part of our Probus club.  Not a lot of hikes this winter because, well let us say it was not a typical Paradise winter.

Many of our hikes are along rivers where there can be some scrambling over tree trunks and up and down some steep slopes, but for the most part they are hikes for people of our vintage.  Occasionally we come out of a rainforest hike for a view over a lake or river where there is a sharp drop or cliff.

You have to approach the edge just to get the  great view.  But we have one member of our club Jill who is the wonderful wife of our hiking team leader, who has a fear of sharp drops.  Technically called Basiphobia.

Jill is great to hike with but she often delays the group because she wants to take photos of weird fungi or flowers.  She is always trying to pose the group on interesting spots and when you hike in West Coast rain forest, these come along all the time.  But when we, as a group, come along to a cliff viewpoint, Jill becomes very agitated.  Not that she would approach the edge herself but she gets very upset if one of the members hangs on a tree leaning over the edge to get a laugh (that was actually me).  I soon realized this was a serious concern she has and and recognized the feeling.

When we first moved to Calgary in the mid 80s, Pat and I took the kids on hikes into the mountains to the west.  We came across a trail that lead along one stretch where we had a narrow trail with a cliff on one side and a sharp drop off on the other.  James, (I think 17 at the time) walked to the edge and put his toes over a drop of 200 metres and looked down.  Pat and I were freaking.  Not that I had a problem with heights, but this was not right.  I actually had nightmares after that about climbing down to retrieve his body.

So I recognize Jill’s phobia about her friends hanging on the edge.

For those not local, there was an incident for a hiking group out of Vancouver this weekend on Mount Harvey.  A hiking club were climbing to a summit.  Possibly more aggressive than our club would do, but not weird.  At the last part of the hike they needed to put on show shoes to finish the climb.  A group of 6, but as normally happens one fell behind to catch his breath.  Another hiker came up and passed him and came to the summit and no people.  Apparently the wind and snow had produced a cornice or ledge that  stretched out from the cliff face.  The group ahead had gone to the edge to look down at the great view of Howe sound.

When the following hiker showed up there was a chunk out of the cornice the size of a living room missing, and no hikers.   They had fallen 500 metres to their death.

I wrote an email to Jill telling her that if this had been our group,  she would have yelled at us not to approach the edge and we would have been saved.