Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb; Looking Down on the Town

Before leaving home we'd booked a climb on the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Friends had recommended it and we were not disappointed. It's not a tough climb--lots of stairs, ladders, catwalks and ramps--but it's not for the faint of heart. You are way up in the air looking down on the harbor and the world. Very cool and very safe but....

They have several options to chose from that vary in distance and duration. We chose the "regular" trip that was nearly 3 hours in length. About half of that time you are moving. The other half you are preparing, the guide is taking photos or you are just listening to the guide describe the scene. Here is the process.

Step 1: Fill out health and legal form.
Step 2: Pass breathalyzer...booze and climbing don't mix.
Step 3: Change into issued jump suit. Leave everything you brought in a locker. Nothing loose including cameras, large jewelry and watches stay.  Sunglasses permitted.
Step 4: Pass through metal detector. They don't want you sneaking a camera or phone on the climb. Why? Because we will be several hundred feet above pedestrians and cars on the bridge and boats passing beneath. A phone could do lots of damage!
Step 5: Get fitted with safety belt, hat and two way radio with earphones (so you can listen to the guide.) Everything, glasses, radio, hat, earphones, gets clipped to hooks on the jumpsuit. Nothing is left to chance.
Step 6: Practice going up and down a set of stairs using the safety belt which clips on a cable that runs up and down the practice stair.

After all of that you begin your journey. As you approach the first catwalk you clip on the safety cable. You will remain clipped on the entire time on the bridge.
Notice the flags at the top of the  arch. In the close up you can see a tour at the base of the near flag. At that point tours cross to the other flag and arch and begin their descent. You can see a descending group near the distant flag base.

From that point on its pure joy mixed with a bit of heavy breathing and sweat. At one point we climbed four 25 tread sets of stairs/ladders in a row. Once on the arch the pitch lessened as we ascended and with it, the effort required. The guide was good about pausing from time to time to tell stories of the bridge or things that we could see, giving us a chance to catch our breath.

For example, he has witnessed a number of proposals made at the top. He also recalls one rejection! (He: "Will you marry me?" She: "Let's talk about it when we get down.")

I could describe everything we could see from the top but that would spoil your trip. Suffice to say the bridge climb should be on your "to do" list if your travels bring you to Sydney. We will never view Sydney Harbor New Year celebration quite the same way again.

The bridge following the terrorist attacks in Paris.

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