Stay away from the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb if you harbor a fear of heights. Acrophobics wouldn’t consider suiting up, strapping a harness belt onto the bridge’s skinny steel railing and climbing as high as a 40 story building. They’d feel lightheaded just picturing the passing cars, rumbling trains, ferries, boats and the harbor waters framed by their legs as viewed straight beneath their feet.
See Sydney from above
But, for most everyone else from ages 10 to 100, BridgeClimb.com is the climb experience of a lifetime…one that can be accomplished in just a few hours during your next visit to Sydney. You’re going to the top of the largest steel-arch bridge ever built, fondly nicknamed “the coathanger” for its Meccano-like construction. Yes, you’re climbing 440 feet high the sky, right up there with the stars and crosses waving from its lofty flagpole at the summit, to appreciate the spectacular backdrop of Sydney Harbour and the Opera House from your open air perch.
Morning, noon or night
There are three ways to accomplish your climb at dawn, midday, dusk or at night and at different speeds. All are perfectly safe, all are expertly guided and all are highly memorable. Nobody will tell you that there aren’t too many stairs…there are over 1,000 open tread, narrow and fairly steep ones, to be sure. There are also catwalks and plenty of places where you’ll need to duck your head as you go.
A landmark and a vision
Originally conceived in 1989 by Paul Cave, a local businessman, the BridgeClimb took nearly 10 years to go from vision to reality. Since then, more than three million residents and visitors have scaled the 1932 iconic structure which is so well-loved by Sydneysiders.
Getting ready to climb
Deposit your personal things, including jewelry and camera, in a locker and change into the gray jumpsuit that ensures you’ll avoid snags and blend in with the bridge itself to minimize distracting motorists. Because cameras could fall, photos are taken by your guide, so you’ll be sure to get that shot with the Sydney Opera House in the background. All the gear and safety equipment is provided and your bridge checklist spells out the essential preparation. Your radio and headset are secured, sound is tested and you’re ready to go with your fearless guide leading the way.
Choose your climb
The fastest way to the top means 1,002 steps in 2.5 hours, known as the Express Climb for those who are feeling fit and want to reach the top in a hurry. The Discovery Climb takes it slower over 3.5 hours. The Bridge Climb places you further out on the edges of the bridge and begins with four ladders, tackling 1,332 steps in 3.5 hours. Baby boomers were represented well, comprising 60 percent of my group of five climbers. No matter how you go up, there’s one thing to know at the bottom: you did it!
Sydney, New South Wales is a fantastic urban destination surrounded by a splendid country. If you’re planning a visit, go to Sydney.com and VisitNSW.com for inspiration and all the information you need.
Recommended by the author: “A Must-Do: Sydney Opera House Backstage Tour”