Cannibalistic-Looking Gondolas, Snaking Their way Into the Inferno

by | May 21, 2006 | Fear, Trust

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isa 41:10 NIV)

The term “phobia” may be relatively unknown to most young people, but it becomes a reality of life as you grow older. The word is derived from the Greek word φόβος, which literally means “fear”.

Some phobias are quite renown. Take Claustrophobia for instance: Fear of confined spaces. Then there’s pedophobia, which is the fear of children (Most parents are in that category!). We also have snakephobia or Ophidiophobia: Fear of snakes (Especially if you mistake them for shoelaces!); and Acrophobia: Fear of heights (This phobia seems to especially strike middle-aged candidates like myself!).

There are other phobias, some that are not as well known:

Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia: Fear of the number 666 (Does that have anything to do with some kind of a beast?);

Dystychiphobia: Fear of accidents (Especially when you have a two-year old who enjoys experimenting with electrical outlets!);

Alektorophobia: Fear of chickens (Not the human kind!);

Dentophobia: Fear of dentists (I guess we all are guilty of that one!);

Chrometophobia: Fear of money (Good thing we can use plastic nowadays!);

Panophobia: Fear of everything including this outgoing list of phobias…

As for myself, once I reached the forty mark, I found myself cursed with acrophobia. Mostly I survived by staying away from heights in general, but after spending the past four days in Banff, surrounded by the beautiful Rocky Mountains, I was now brought face to face with my worst fear of all: Cannibalistic-looking Gondolas Snaking their Way into the Inferno!

I had enjoyed my climb up Tunnel mountain with my kids that morning (though I made sure to stay well away from the edge of cliffs!), but now they wanted to climb Sulfur Mountain, a mountain of staggering heights (2291 metres), which was WAY higher (609 metres) than Tunnel Mountain had been.

For some reason I had a problem with this, and it wasn’t just my fear of heights. It seemed that climbing my first mountain of the day had drained me of my entire daily energy allotment. I just couldn’t face another climb, especially one that took us even HIGHER! Luckily my wife was with us, as her conference had finally come to an end two hours earlier. Ever the active one, she had been forced to sit in a conference room for the past 3½ days, and she was teeming with energy.

But what about me? If I coped out, I would definitely miss the opportunity to share a fantastic view with my family. My only option was the gondolas that snaked up the side of the mountain. But they hovered so far up in the air! Why, even the tiniest breeze made those tiny cars shake violently!

There was a long line of people who seemed impatient to be devoured by these Cannibalistic-looking Gondolas, and I was sure that their remains were transported way up to the infernal higher peaks of our surroundings. This definitely was NOT for me!

But did I have a choice?

I prayed fervently as I watched my family began their trek. I wasn’t praying for them however, I was praying for myself! And it worked. Naturally. Peace soon flooded my heart. My choice had been made. I would brave the gondolas!

Despite the line, I knew it would take my family longer to reach the summit than it would take me, so I settled into the van to read for awhile. It was hard to concentrate however, and I eventually realized that I could no longer escape the inevitable. I would have to be engulfed by those frightening cannibals at one time or another, and I joined the long line of waiting people.

I found myself in line behind a retired couple from Wisconsin. As we began to chat, I learned that we had a lot in common. They were Rvers, like ourselves, and they had also been on the road for a long time. In fact, they had been away from home even longer than we had. Their trip had begun three months earlier, and they had been to Alaska and the Yukon. Now, like us, they were visiting Alberta, and just to top it all off, there seemed to be one other thing we shared: Acrophobia! The lady shared my fear of heights, as well as my uncertainty about entering those gondolas!

We chatted in line for more than an hour, and it didn’t take long for thoughts of those scary gondolas to be pushed away. In fact, when it came time to enter one of the monsters, the lady fearlessly climbed in beside her husband. She seemed to be encouraged by the fact that another acrophobic was defying his fear with her!

And up we went, rocking not-so-gently from left to right.

All of a sudden she tensed: “We’re going to hit that pole!”

But as we continued our casual talk, her fear evaporated into nothingness.

We reached the top, miraculously still in one piece, where I awaited the arrival of my adventuresome family. The view was, indeed, spectacular, but what was more amazing was that on my way back down, I actually allowed myself to look out the window. As I admired the cliffs, I was even able to ignore the fact that the upcoming traffic seemed to be heading straight to us. What happened to my acrophobia?

I learned an important lesson that day. No matter what fears you are plagued with, if you rely on Jesus, He will give you the victory. I couldn’t have planned it any better. God provided me with the opportunity to share my gondola with a nice couple, and we were an encouragement to one another on the way up. In the end, the phobia disappeared all together. For that day, anyway!

“Does this mean you will come with us to climb Mount Everest, papa?”

“Guys, all good things have their limits!”

Rob Chaffart

A phobia (from the Greek φόβος “fear”), is a strong, persistent fear of situations, objects, activities, or persons. The main symptom of this disorder is the excessive, unreasonable desire to avoid the feared subject.


Cannibalistic-Looking Gondolas, Snaking Their way Into the Inferno