Sydney Harbor Bridge: The Climb of Our Lives!

Adventure Travel, Australia, Fitness & Workouts, Lost Girls RTW Adventure, Tours & Attractions — By on June 11, 2007 at 8:56 am

It was a beautiful, sunny morning in Sydney and Amanda, Holly and I were spending it in typical fashion – – a teensy bit hung over from the night before and running late, OK really late, for our scheduled activity du jour. Normally, we were happy to adopt the customary Australian “no-worries” philosophy and arrive at our destination whenever we could get there, but today was a different matter all together. As we raced frantically through the Sydney streets, flying off buses, dashing underground and dramatically flinging ourselves through closing train doors, we realized our tardiness could cost us dearly. In T-minus 20 minutes and counting, we were scheduled to experience one of the most notable and amazing adventures that Sydney had to offer – The Harbor Bridge Climb – yet we were at least a half hour away and not exactly sure where we were going (we take our title of Lost Girls very seriously!).

Fortunately for us, we also tend to excel in another “L” category – luck! While sprinting up the stairs of the Wynard station, simultaneously punching numbers on our mobile phone, we were fortunate enough to connect with a bridge climb coordinator and bump our departure time forward an hour. Whew! That was a close one! We grabbed a Starbucks latte to celebrate our small success – and to ease our pounding heads – then made a collective beeline for the harbor to get our climbing party started.

For once, we arrived at our destination ahead of schedule (based on our revised climb time anyway), which gave us a chance to explore the office lobby and chat with the employees about what to expect. After browsing the extensive Wall of Fame – one that housed snapshots of such famous faces as Nicole Kidman, Will Smith, Jodi Foster, Hugh Jackson, the Olson Twins and Brendan Fraser – Holly, Amanda and I were directed to a back room to get suited up for our big ascent. But a funny thing happened on the way to the equipment station. We were “pulled over” by an employee and asked to submit to a breathalyzer test to make sure we weren’t planning to climb under the influence. Uh Oh! Would last night’s cocktails come back to haunt us or had we burned them all off on our race to get here? Luckily, we registered 0.0% (anything under 0.05% is passing) and were approved to proceed. Whew! Another close one! OK, on to our fittings.

It didn’t take us long to deduce that when it comes to gear, the bridge climb folks aren’t messin’ around! After slipping into a sexy one-piece jumpsuit that any self respecting Trekkie would travel light years to get their split-fingered hands on, we were issued a fuzzy fleece for cold and windy conditions, a baseball cap to keep the harbor sun out of our eyes, a cord to keep our sunglasses from blowing off the bridge and even a handkerchief to tuck into our sleeves for, well, you know! We politely refused the thick gray scrunchies provided to keep our hair back, cause, hey, even donned in space suits, a Lost Girl’s gotta draw the line somewhere! After a quick equipment check and safety review with our guide, Mike, we made our way outside, down the sidewalk, past snickering tourists to the base of the bridge and took our first of many steps leading us closer to Sydney’s powder blue sky.

Rather than take the traditional route, the girls and I decided to give the newer and apparently more adventurous Discovery Climb a shot. Instead of journeying over the top of the bridge to the summit, we were going to cut straight through the heart of the structure, winding through mazes of metal, across suspended catwalks and snaking over massive steel beams punctured with rivets before emerging at the top. Now when the girls and I first heard about the bridge climb, we envisioned ourselves dangling precariously over the water, lashed to the bridge with carabineers and forced to scale the walls like Spiderman. Needless to say, we were dramatizing the situation just a teeny bit, as so far, the seemingly death-defying act of climbing the bridge was more like a gentle stroll.

Secured to the side with a special harness linked to a static line, we walked gracefully up a series of iron planks and staircases as our guide enlightened us with a detailed history of the bridge and prominent Sydney sites. We took in the passing cars and crowds of tourist below, while getting a sneak peak at some of the surrounding landmarks like the Opera House, Darling Harbor, Manley Ferry, Luna Park and John Howard’s house (our guide insisted he knew which one it was). And while the climb was an exciting experience in and of itself, the real reward came at the top. As our heads popped up from beneath the center of the bridge, we couldn’t help but marvel at the spectacular bird’s eye view we had of the glistening harbor and vast cityscape that stretched endlessly below. We took our time navigating the steal summit, posing for the guide’s camera as he snapped dozens of photos of us at every turn and prominent look out point. As we noticed more groups rising above the beams behind us, we realized our time was up, so we slowly began to make our way back down to the base.

A mere 3 ½ hours, dozens of staircases and thousands of steps later, our feet finally hit solid ground. Happy, exhilarated and only a tad wind blown, we headed to the office to take a look at our photos and get the skinny from the staff on where to go for a celebratory beer in the neighborhood (They suggested we hit The Australian for a frosty Victoria Bitters and deep dish pizza topped with kangaroo, crocodile or emu). So, was the Harbor Bridge Climb all we expected and more, you ask? I mean, should scrunchies have remained in the 80s? Of course! Not only did we get to experience one of Sydney’s most signature events, we had dozens of pictures showcasing The Lost Girls’ silliest grins to show for it. Bridge Climb Wall of Fame here we come! And in a nod to the company’s tagline, which I borrowed for this blog title, like Baby and Johnny, we did in fact, have the time (and climb) of our lives!

Oh, yeah, we went there! And there’s much more cheesiness, fun times and sheer craziness where that came from. Stay tuned for tales from our upcoming adventures in Hunter Valley!

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    1 Comment

  • Dellie says:

    I’ve never heard of the Sydney Harbor Bridge climb. (All I get to climb are these same old mountains.) You looked like “Charlie’s Angels Astronauts” in your climbing Trekkie unforms-very cute. Congratulations on summiting the Bridge.