There are times in life when you have to splash the cash. The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb experience is one of those occasions. It’s outrageously expensive, but genuinely remarkable and a once in a lifetime experience. On my previous visits to Sydney I’ve admired the bridge, walked across it and sailed underneath it, but I never had enough surplus cash to climb it. Last year I was lucky enough to be working in Australia. With my flights and accommodation already paid for, this adventure was number one on the list.
Once you’ve signed in and registered, you have to wait in the departure lounge for your climb time to flash up on the board. To entertain you there are some TV screens showing videos of what you are about to experience interspersed with photographs of celebrities who’ve also done the climb.
Feeling a mixture of excitement and slight anxiety I nervously waited. I was most worried about how physically enduring the climb would be. From the ground, the bridge looks so big, and the bridge facts that just flashed up before me state that there are 1332 steps to climb.
Getting suited and booted
At precisely the time stated on my ticket the doors opened and a member of the team led us into the prep room. After filling in the paperwork, we all had to take a breathalyzer test. You must register 0.05% or below to climb so remember to save the night out on the town till after the experience.
The next stage is to be fitted with the appropriate dress code, the blue and grey boiler type overalls. In exchange for your suit, you have to leave all your belongings in the locker assigned to you. When they say all, they’re not joking. I even had to take my hair grips out. So much for looking good on the photographs. Cameras, mobile phones, watches and jewelry are all forbidden and to ensure that you have followed the rules you have to walk through a metal detector. You are allowed to wear sunglasses and a hat provided you attach them with the string supplied to your specially designed suit.
Harness belt and added extras
Everyone who climbs the bridge has to wear the harness, what they don’t mention is how heavy they are. I’d only had it on a few moments, and I could already feel the weight pulling on my back. As we stood in a circle and practiced using the hooks, our team leader, Darren came round and made the necessary adjustments. With everything firmly in place, it was time to collect a few additional extras. The first proved to be very useful, a handkerchief which clipped onto your sleeve. Either the wind will make your eyes water or your eyes fill up from sheer delight when you reach the summit. There is also a fleece which is packed neatly in a bag and a baseball cap which you can take if you wish.
To a get a taste for what lies ahead, there’s a small scaffolding tower to climb. It’s a great idea; you get a feel for the clips and how your harness works with the cables. However, it’s quite narrow and of course nowhere near as robust as the real bridge. Lets put it this way– it didn’t do much to strengthen my nerves.
The last bit of equipment issued is radio mics. They’re also quite heavy but essential to communicate and listen to Darren while on the climb. They have adjustable volumes, and once we’d all tested them by introducing ourselves, we were at last on our way.
As we left the building and made our way onto the bridge, I could feel my stomach starting to do summersaults. The wind was howling, and the traffic noise below was something I hadn’t contemplated. To steady your nerves there’s a large handrail to hold onto, and the cable which you’re attached to is just below. As we walked towards the first set of ladders, Darren began to share his knowledge about the area below us and the history of the bridge. The nerves were starting to settle, and I couldn’t wait to climb higher.
Sydney Harbour Bridge Facts and Stats
-Although not the longest spanning-arch is in the world, it is the tallest. Measuring 134 meters from the water level to the top. The span of the arch is 503 metres, and its length is 1149 meters.
-The four 89 meter high granite pylons on either side are entirely decorative. The granite blocks were quarried in Moruya and transported on specially built ships.
-Approximately 6 million steel rivets were used to construct the bridge.
-An estimated 272,000 litres of paint is needed to paint the bridge.
-One thousand four hundred men were involved in building the bridge of which 16 lives lost their lives.
-No safety gear was provided on the build.
-800 families had to surrender their homes without any compensation.
-In 2005 Mark Webber drove the Williams -BMW formula one car across it.
-Today you can drive your car across it for as little as $2.50 in the evening.
How strenuous is the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb?
There are four short but vertical ladders to climb which sounds more daunting than it is. I felt much more comfortable on these than the practice ones we undertook earlier. Perhaps this is due to the adrenaline which has now kicked in. After the fourth ladder, you arrive at the start of the famous curve. To mark this momentous occasion, Darren took our photograph before we continued.
The climb up the arch to the summit was much less strenuous than anticipated. The gradient of the steps is gentle, and there’s plenty of time to admire the incredible views. Darren kept us entertained for much of the climb by pointing out interesting landmarks and telling a few witty jokes. At no point did any of us feel out of breath, the pace is nothing but relaxed. Adrenaline addicts may be disappointed, but everyone in my group was relieved.
The views are spectacular, and it’s such a fantastic feeling to stand on top of one of the worlds most famous bridges. You get a 360-degree panorama of the city which is truly impressive. We had a group photo, and all of us had our pictures taken with the Sydney Opera House in the background. You even get the chance to make a short video clip to share your experience. There was plenty of time to soak in the atmosphere, chat with the guide and make friends within the group. Having admired the Opera House side of the bridge, you then walk across to the opposite side where more sensational views await.
Wedding Bliss or Celebrate a special event
If you’re looking for a truly unique place to tie the knot or celebrate an event, there’s a small platform in the center of the arch where you can. How amazing is that!
Sadly all great things have to come to an end. The descent down the vertical ladders was probably more hair razing than the climb. At one point a train whizzed by which didn’t half make us all jump. However, the climb team members were always there to reassure and assist you.
After the climb, everyone received a certificate, a group photograph and a free pass to the Pylon Lookout. You also get to keep the baseball cap. If you want to purchase all the photos on a USB stick, you can pay an additional $59.95. You get ten photos, and although this is not cheap, you don’t want to regret not having those memories to cherish.