Surrey’s Civic Hotel has — gulp — 55 floors, making it B.C.’s third tallest building. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

ZYTARUK: Face your fears, no matter how high up you are

The higher I go, the wobblier my knees get.

So let it be written…

It’s good to face your fears.

Well, some of them. I don’t like spiders, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be letting a tarantula climb up my arm any time soon. Or ever.

But heights is definitely something I’m not keen on either. The higher I go, the wobblier my knees get. I start looking for things to grip onto, as my inner voice — one of them, anyway — whispers in my ear, “Thomas — what have you got yourself into?”

Many, years ago, for a feature story, I went up in one of those ultralight aircraft courtesy of Airflow Ultralight Aviation, down near the Serpentine River. People used to call these things, rather indelicately I must say, dirt bikes with wings. The pilot let me steer the thing for a bit, and I was more than pleased when he resumed control.

Still, aircraft do not bother me as much, height-wise, as stationary stuff like cliffs, buildings, bridges. A couple of years ago, I took my family to the south rim of the Grand Canyon, where people were sitting at the edge of insanely high cliffs, dangling their feet into oblivion.

Apparently, their voice tells them it’s OK to be crazy.

VIDEO: A look at Surrey — from the third tallest tower in B.C.

And speaking of bridges, again, many years ago, a photographer and I decided to walk along that thing they call a walkway, along the south side of the Alex Fraser Bridge, to get “the photo” of Burns Bog on fire. We were still over land, but nearly over the river, when the metal plate I was walking on rippled with a “boing.” I practically astral-travelled, looking down upon my literally shaken self. And there was that voice again — very loud this time: “Thomas, what the hell are you doing up here?”

Anyway, this week I got to join a tour of the tallest building south of the Fraser — the Civic Hotel — in the city centre. This tour, as you’ve no doubt already read about on the front page of this issue of the Surrey Now-Leader, involved checking out the view from the tower’s open-air 55th floor.

Jeepers, we ascended that tower inside this cage-like crate normally used to hoist construction workers, who are decidedly braver than I, to their workplace.

Have you ever “enjoyed” a ride on the wooden roller coaster at the PNE? If so, you’ll recall the rattle and clank it makes when you climb up to the first drop. That’s what this hoist, I think they called it, sounded like. All the way up, and all the way down.

But once up on top, I was pleasantly surprised at how serene the world was up there, at about noon Wednesday. I was told, by people who are not afraid of heights, that it can be a little hairy up there in the winter, with sleet and snow blasting sideways in your face.

But this time, with the summer sun shining down, it was good to be up there. A treat, a privilege.

So you see, it is good to face your fears.

Just don’t let go of that rail, that’s all.

So let it be done.

tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com