When I got to Sydney, Australia to visit friends and finally explore that land down under, one of the first thing my friends told me was I HAD TO do the bridge climb. The Sydney Harbor Bridge climb. I was immediately mesmerized at the thought. Normally, I try to go up any structure that allows me birds eye view of a city. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Christ Redeemer in Rio, the medieval towers in la rossa Bologna, St. Paul‘s in London, Sacre Coeur also in Paris, the Peachtree Westin in my hometown, … you get the point. Nothing like being high up and looking down at man’s urban creation. I had crossed the bridge on foot and snapped a photo I really liked looking at the Sydney Opera House (and you are already high from the bridge level) but a higher vantage point… THAT would be awesome.
So the Sydney Bridge climb was right up my alley. Of course, I had to be OK parting with a good amount of dough, well north of US $100 (truth be told, around $200…). But WHEN would I return to Sydney to do this? I am not scared of heights when I feel secure and being on a walkway was good enough for me (vs. walking out on some diving board-like piece of something hanging of a needle or other such skyscraper structure).
A friend of mine who is also a travel blogger (Erin, from The World Wanderer) was telling me she wanted to do the climb. I encouraged her to do it and she encouraged me to write about my experience (it was on the long to-write-about list). The bridge climb is a fairly recent offering having been started in the mid 1990s or so. They claim over 3 million participants so far – become one, like Erin will some day, and help them get to 4 million!
So I made my way to the place where they brief you on the entire process and suit you up on this very not glamorous attire. The important thing, though, is that you part ways with ANYTHING that could POSSIBLY fall off you during the climb. It is not only that you would lose the whatever-it-is. It is that there are likely cars right under you that could be hit by anything falling off! If it is not covered completely by the suit – it comes off. Your sunglasses, mercifully, are given a contraption so you can keep them and they won’t fall off – whew. They go through some instructions and -voilà- off you go!
Once you are ready to go, the first step is to hook yourself up to the “cord”. This cord thing runs the ENTIRE route you will walk and you will be hooked to that cord the ENTIRE time you are out there either UNDER the bridge or climbing up. Yes, that is why you should not fear doing the hike. You are tethered to the bridge. The only way you are falling to your death is if the bridge falls into the harbor hundreds of feet below. And then it does not matter if you are climbing the bridge, on a bus crossing the bridge, or a pedestrian on the sidewalk on the bridge. So no fear!
Once you start climbing, yes, the effort could be significant for some. I exercise frequently so the physical effort was not extraordinary. But I think you don’t have to be in great shape to go up. Just don’t have serious heart issues or other serious illnesses. Oh, and don’t be intoxicated. They check and won’t let you go up!
The guide will make stops along the way but she/he is explaining things along the way. The headphones you get are AWESOME. They don’t go in your ear but over the rear of your cheek close to your ear – the sound vibrations emitted by the thing get to your eardrum and you hear perfectly fine – how cool is that?! Our guide was phenomenal – great explanations, great humor (I am sure the same jokes he and his peers say every tour but nevertheless funny), and great Aussie attitude and friendliness.
As you hike the bridge, they will be taking photographs. Remember the bit about not being able to bring a camera? (You leave your stuff in a locker.) Well, they know you want a picture or two. And they know we will buy them so they won’t be cheap. But since you already dished out a couple hundred buckaroos, what’s another limb, right? The photos will be great – admire mine but do not laugh at the suit cause you will be wearing one too!
If I ever return to Sydney, I am likely to splurge again – but this time to do the night climb which I hear is also phenomenal (and cheaper!). Hopefully, I’ve had enough time by then to save up for the cost of another climb. But one thing I know, it will be WELL worth it!
I give this a completely certain thumbs up even if it feels gimmicky. Gimmicks like this, though, have to be gone for (here is where English teachers cringe). They pay you back with an incredible view of this great city by the water! Did I convince you to do it??