1,438 stairs and a bit over a mile walked on the Sydney Harbour Bridge!! I have now done the climb of my life and it was so much fun. I wasn’t going to leave here without climbing, because I totally would have regretted that. I went with my friend Sarah and her mom. Wish I could have shared the experience with more people that I knew, but I definitely enjoyed it and learned more about the bridge, like how the arch weights 30,000 tons, but the bridge can actually hold 80,000 tons. Back when they built the bridge, they always doubled the reinforcement, which I believe is a good thing, because look at how many cars drive over it and everything everyday and this bridge is going to last. There are many “pimples” which are actually rivets and all of them are original. Even the stairs of steel (British Steel) are original. The main thing added was the cable to clip onto, which was really cool. We walked and climbed and it slid along.
So now that I’ve talked about my wonderful time I had, I’d like to go through what we did. First we were in a room and filled out a form and took a breathalyzer test. Then we learned each other’s names and why they were doing the bridge climb. Then we got our suits to put on. Mine was super baggy, but it wasn’t uncomfortable, either. I felt like I was wearing baggy pj bottoms. Oh and it looked super funny when the wind blew through my pants. It looked like I was wearing some inflatable suit.
Once we got changed, we got our hats and glasses clipped to our suit. Then we met our leader, Richard. He brought us to another room where we put on our harnesses and once we got that on, we felt a little lop sided because of the weight being mostly on our left of what would attach to the cable. Then we each got a handkerchief that we tied around our wrists (just in case we got emotional once we were at the top). Then we put on sunscreen as the weather was just beautiful today for the bridge climb. I really lucked out on that as the last few days it said it was going to rain today. From there we did a practice climb for the ladders and learning how to connect to the cable. Next, we proceeded to get our radios so that we could hear our leader talk about the bridge and tell stories as we climbed. After that we got the all clear and were ready to go…that only took 45 minutes to get prepared.
We walked through a tunnel (which cost a quarter of a million dollars to drill for bridge climb) and then stepped onto the bridge, starting below the street. Richard talked about the strength of the bridge and the work that is being done on it. They are currently removing the lead paint from the bridge and repainting it, section by section. Today they were not working because the workers get every second Monday off. They had covers around the area because when they sand blast the lead paint, they vacuum it up so that it doesn’t blow into the harbour, because that would be bad for the environment. Next he talked about the pylons and how they are made from granite. Everything in Sydney is sandstone and so in order to get the granite, workers had to go 300km from Sydney. Another interesting fact is that the granite pylons don’t support the bridge at all. If they were removed the bridge would still be standing. They are purely there to look at.
Continuing around the bridge and up and down a few steps, we then got to the major part of the climb, 4 sets of ladders. I’d say this would be the scary part. I was honestly so concentrated on where my feet were and making sure I was holding on to the railings and bars in front of me. The steps on the ladders were so close together that when I climbed, I skipped a step in between because my feet could not move such a little distance to climb. When we got to the top of the last ladder, our leader took pictures of us. I didn’t buy that one because I didn’t like it very much. The rest of the way was steps that were fairly flat so it wasn’t too bad and we stopped along the way as Richard talked about the Harbour and pointed out a few places.
When we made it to the top, we took more pictures!! So I have one with me and the Opera house. I did take another one where the Opera house was between my 2 hands but I could only choose 2 photos because I didn't want to spend too much money on photos. My second photo was my favorite actually from all of them as it showed my whole body and parts of the bridge, so I’m really glad I got that one.
While we were at the top, Richard told us stories of celebrities that he has led to the top. He has been working with Bridge Climb since they opened in 1998. I guess bridge climb signed a 20 year lease so I have no idea what happens after 2018, but with how much money they make from tourists climbing, I'm sure they will continue with it. They had a 100 yr old climb the bridge. She was able to take a lift up most of the way as she was not in the condition to climb the ladders. Last, he told the story about Oprah and we got to walk where she stood as he explained how Oprah was not very impressed after they all got to the top and the helicopter ran out of fuel and it took 26 minutes for the helicopter to return and take their photo. When I watched it on the show, I thought that was so funny. However I would not have wanted to sit and wait for 26 minutes at the top of the bridge. It just seems so long to have to wait.
Then it was time for the trip down. One thing that was pointed out on the way down was a bird’s nest from ravens. 2 ravens made a nest on the Harbour bridge 3 springs ago and the first spring, there were 3 eggs laid. 2 of the 3 babies survived, the other was crushed by a car below. The next spring, the raven laid 2 eggs and neither of the babies survived. Last spring, 3 eggs were laid and the raven’s built their next up a bit higher on the bridge. On a very windy day (60-80kph winds), the birds held on tight to the nest and all the babies survived and the nest is still there. Richard calls that “great engineering.”It was a short trip down and before I knew it, we were back inside and off the bridge. Those 3.5 hours passed by so quickly. We then took our clips off, cleaned our headphones and washed our hands. The paper towels went down this green chute which was so cool and the suits got their own chute, which was red. It was time to get undress and dress into our own clothes again and fill out a short survey on our time and then we got our photos and I resisted buying a t-shirt at the store, however I still want it and if I do have money left in June, I’m going back there to buy that shirt.