I arrived at the BridgeClimb office at 9:45am, ready for my 10am climb! The office is pretty interesting with large fans and catwalks above us. I picked up my ticket and then headed up the stairs to join the rest of my group, waiting for our climb leader. We were led into a room, where we all sat down and filled in some details about ourselves and signed a form to say we would not take anything up on the bridge.
Looking at the faces around the room I mostly saw excited faces but I saw a few anxious ones too. The staff member asked if anyone needed to take any medication on the bridge eg: asthma inhaler. I put my hand up as I’m a wheezy little nerd! I was given a small plastic bag that I had to put my name on and my inhaler in the little baggie and give it to the staff.
We were then led into the next room where we were given our overalls; I was really surprised by how the staff knew what size would fit you! I guess you get a lot of practice given BridgeClimb Sydney has had over 3 million climbers! We were then taken into the change rooms and locker area, where we got changed into our overalls aka “climbing suit”, put our loose belongings into a locker and lined up to go through to the next section and finally meet our climb leader!
Surprise surprise (not!) I put my overalls on backwards, it wasn’t until I walked out to see other people wearing it properly, I quickly ran back into the change rooms and turned it around! This experience wouldn’t be complete without me being a spaztic! Interesting fact: the overalls are grey and blue so that they blend into the bridge, so that drivers on the bridge are not distracted by the climbers, this is also why when you get married on the bridge, you can’t wear your big white wedding dress!
Meet Natalie, she has been a BridgeClimb leader for about a year and previously was a swim coach! When asked what her favourite climb was, she said she had no favourite as each climb had its own very special moments, she said “it’s the people that make the climb!”. She was extremely knowledgeable through the climb and very entertaining with all the stories she told.
Natalie our climb leader introduced herself to us and we had a little chat. We following Natalie through a metal detector which I found a little funny but I understand they don’t want people taking anything onto the bridge, like a camera or any other loose items and not just because they want to make extra money on selling you photos but because it could be a danger to the traffic below you on the bridge. Should you drop something, it could cause a massive accident.
You are not even allowed to take a watch, only the rings on your fingers and necklace can be taken up. Natalie lead us into the next area where we all stood around a metal semi-circle with hooks and loops on it, while she went around putting a harness on each ring and loop, she asked each of us where we were from and had a short chat.
Once everyone had a harness, Natalie grabbed a volunteer from our group and demonstrated how to put the harness on and how to do it up. Me again being such a spaztic, I put my harness on upside down…(yeah I was having a great day! Haha!), Natalie had to come correct it, while the others in our group looked on and giggled!
Now that the harness debacle had been sorted out, we moved on to the next area where we picked up a baseball cap and a hankie to take on the bridge (the hankie is mainly used to wipe the sweat off your head or wipe up the tears you shed over the incredible views from the Sydney harbour bridge!), we also picked up a rain jacket as it was forecast to rain at some stage that day, better to be prepared right!
We moved on to the “practice stairs.” Here Natalie explained that we would do a quick practice so that everyone understood the correct way to go up and down these steep stairs – not that difficult right.. – and what to do when our device gets stuck (our device is hooked up to your harness and runs along the course of the bridge).
She did a quick demo for us, making it look very easy and we all followed one at a time, we were told that only one person at a time should be along each section of these steps as, if you slip (which is highly unlikely) you could fall down the stairs and injure the person below you, a soft landing for you maybe but not so much for the person on the bottom. Natalie encouraged us to have 3 points of contacts at all times while climbing the stairs, either 2 hands and 1 foot or 2 feet and one hand to ensure the safest climb or decent.
We all “flew” through the practice, which was super easy and not as scary as I thought (it’s a little high…). Natalie lead us to the last area before starting our BridgeClimb adventure, where we collected our radios and Natalie tested them, we all looked for the volume button as it was so loud but had no luck finding it.
Natalie went to let the “operations team” know that our group was ready to get our climb on!