A 70 year old’s view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb

I  climbed the Sydney Harbour Brdge a few years ago and I thought it was a fantastic experience. It was no where near as scary as some people were making out and the height didn’t bother me at all. Some bridge climbers I saw though did turn around before they reached the top as they found it too much !

When a customer of ours sent in his holiday report for us to publish on our blog I decided to put his story on our blog and not mine. The reason being that this customer is 70 years of age. If he can climb the bridge so can you !

Watch a video of the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb then read the fascinating report

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yhu7E7ONve8]

 A personal experience of the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb

We are all familiar with the five words of sensible advise “Don’t drink if You Drive” but when I visited Australia last year I encountered a slight variation to those words of well being-“Don’t Drink if You Climb” ! I am referring to the world famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, one of the best Sydney tours, where one of the requirements before you climb it is that you are breathalysed!

At the age of 70 I achieved yet another of my ambitions by climbing it during an around the world trip I made, and must admit the ascent was easier than I anticipated. In fact I would describe it more of a steep walk than the “Climb of your life” for which the ascent is billed. OK I suppose you could say I was reasonably fit for my age. I have to be seeing I am still actively engaged in two of my hobbies of SCUBA diving and mountain trekking.

It is stressed climbers must be physically fit with no fear of ladders which you have to climb up and down on many occasions during your walk of 1500 metres over the gentle metal curve of The Bridge sometimes nicknamed as the “Coathanger.” It should present no problem to the average reasonably fit person although I did hear a couple in my group complaining of aches in their calf muscles at times! As mentioned you will need to pass a breath test before the climb, so don’t have a drink beforehand! Other stipulations are climbers must be over 12 and you will be asked to complete a declaration form of the Bridge Climb’s terms and conditions.

The entire climbing adventure will take some three and a half hours from the reception area in the offices of Bridge Climb the company which conducts tours over the arch at 5, Cumberland Street. You will not be allowed to take anything on the bridge (including cameras) for fear of items dropping on cars, trains and pedestrians, and lockers are at hand to store them. You will be kitted up with a light weight grey bridge suite that fits over existing clothing and zips up the back, appropriate shoes, a radio and earphones to listen to the on going commentary of you climb leader.

After watching a video preview, being given a thorough briefing and undergoing a practise climb over a simulator consisting of a walkway with a ladder at either end you will be attached to a bridge harness that is linked to a static line throughout the climb. From leaving the reception area to reach the bridge means a short walk along the pavement forming a line with others in your group. I felt something like an astronaut about to go on a mission into space, well apart from holding a helmet under my arm that is! You can imagine we had some amusing and backward glances from casual passers-by!

We were told by our climb leader, setting foot on the first walkway and glancing through its grid like base to the ground below would be either be a feeling of ecstasy or fear. With mountain walking one of my many hobbies I must admit I had no problems, and seeing most of the other ten members in my party was the captain and his cabin crew from British Airways they too naturally felt quite at ease!!! And they were all a lot younger than “Yours Truly”!

With a breathtaking 360 degree view of the world’s most beautiful harbour, the Sydney Opera House, and towering buildings on the city’s skyline I found it difficult to concentrate as our leader pointed out items of interest, giving a commentary through the radio connection on its history and construction of the bridge. Some of the things I do remember is it was opened in 1932, there are 58,000 tons of steel, and six million rivets in its construction. Taking in account the road approaches “The Bridge” is 1150m or about a mile long. It certainly is a major tourist attraction with groups setting off every ten minutes for the “Climb of your Life” as its advertising slogan says!

At the highest point, the arch is 134m.above sea level. This is where our climb leader took a number of group and individual photographs of us with a digital camera, and which were later on display with the option of purchasing them on returning to ground level. With such mind boggling backdrops as the Opera House, the impressive buildings on the Sydney skyline, coupled with the fact you are not allowed to take your own camera on the climb, how could you possible resist the temptation to purchase them. Talk About a captive market!

I my opinion probably the most daunting part of “The Climb” was clambering up and down the number of ladders to reach the cat-walks. Even then you are made to feel at ease, with extra staff on hand at the foot and at the top of every ladder should you need help. So even if you hate climbing ladders, don’t let that put you off from taking part in the bridge walk. At the end of the day that basically is what I thought it was it was, especially being shackled to a safety cable giving you an extra sense of security for your walking over water experience. The walls of the company’s reception area are covered with photographs of the rich and famous that have “done the climb”. They include Will Smith, Michael Caine Nicole Kidman and Sarah Ferguson. All climbers receive a personalised commemorative climber certificate and a complimentary group photograph.

For excellent views of the bridge, and for that matter and the opera house from the water, forget an expensive excursion and hop on a ferry to Manly Beach which in my opinion has far more to offer than the famed Bondi Beach. You will also be rewarded by fantastic harbour views as well. Unfortunately for us Brits. I would link the distance of the Sidney Harbour Bridge with the name of that famous way film. A BRIDGE TO FAR. to making the climb a regular occurrence, but certainly within the reach of a once in a lifetime experience.

You can climb the Harbour Bridge any day of the week, by day or night and prices vary from around £59 and £70. Children are much cheaper. To book your Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb call FREE on 0800 433 2300.


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