If you missed Part 1 of my exciting BridgeClimb, check it out here.
Our climb began, we were led by our climb leader Natalie through a long, damp corridor out onto a catwalk, we hooked our devices into the guidance cord which runs along the whole BridgeClimb course and off we went. Natalie’s voice came over the headset and told us to make sure we strut our stuff along the catwalk (whoot!), I was surprised at the volume level of the headset now that we were outside, I’m glad we didn’t turn it down.
Along the way, Natalie would stop and tell us a bit of history about the Bridge or provide some handy tips about Sydney; Natalie had heard that the top room at the Park Hyatt sold for $15,000 per night over New Years Eve with a min of 5 night stay – that’s $75,000 (AUD) for 5 nights! She said that a lot of celebrities or well-known figures stay at the Park Hyatt and had suspected that One Direction had stayed there one night, given the number of teenage girls she saw camping outside the building.
Natalie maintained contact with us throughout the whole climb and interacted with us where she could. She would warn us in advance when we had to step over a bump in the bridge or watch our heads. We ventured under the bridge between the two pylons, this is where waited to go up the steep “staircase” which took us up to the main arch (aka the Coat-hanger). Natalie told us that she thought this one spot is the coldest in Sydney even on a 40-degree day, all the cold wind and wind from cars came through this section and made it nice a chilly!
Two staff members do 3-hour rotating shifts down here and swap with the climb staff at the top, to make sure they didn’t freeze to death! (I’m kidding, I don’t think they would die). Natalie went up the staircase first and we all, one by one slowly followed. Natalie warned us that we might get a bit of a “rush” going up these 4 flights of stairs as we are climbing up between the lanes of traffic on the Sydney harbour bridge and we would have cars zipping past!
When we got to the top of the flight of stairs we stopped to have a drink at the drinking fountain (there is a number along the way, as it can be a very thirsty climb). This is also where we had our first picture taken; it was just in front of the stairs going up the arch of the bridge. I had my photo done first as I was first in line, once done, Natalie told me to keep going up until I found her carabiner and to stop and wait for everyone there. The nicest thing about being first was that I got my photo taken and I could relax and enjoy the view while waiting for everyone to catch up. (I also got to nag Natalie with my 100,000 questions).
We quickly stopped off at what looked like a light but actually turned out to be a misting fan to be used on very hot days, Natalie told us we could use it if we were hot but reminded us that our next photo was a short way up the bridge.
We stopped several times on the climb to take in the view and for Natalie to tell us a bit more about the bridge or an interesting story about the history about the surrounding areas and the bridge itself. One of the stories that really stood out for me was the story about the “Cookers and Catches”.
These were the man that put the rivets on the bridge, the cookers would bring large ovens up the bridge with them and put the large metal rivets into the oven til they were (literally) red hot, they would then take them out using special tongs and throw them to the catches in the middle of the bridge, they would catch them in a buck of sand and use a set of special tongs to take the red-hot rivet out and place it in the hole. I can’t imagine standing in the middle of the Sydney Harbour Bridge with no harness or protection, catching a red hot rivet!!! (or catching anything for that matter)
Another incredible story was a man called Vincent Kelly, who was working on the “road deck” when he slipped and fell 60m into the Sydney Harbour! He surprisingly survived this fall and it is said there are a few theories as to why he lived. One theory was that he has dropped his tool belt into the water, breaking the surface tension which allowed him to ease his fall. Another theory was that he was an expert diver and while falling he remembered to put his legs together in a straight line and dove easily into the water. Vincent Kelly was pulled out of the water with his shoes up around his thighs due to the force he entered the water. He was lucky enough to only have 6 broken ribs and a few bruises, he returned to work 6 weeks later!
We continued our climb and finally summited the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it was an incredible feeling. It sounds silly because it’s not like I was summiting Mount Everest but it did feel great to be standing at the very top of this great icon!
We took a few more pictures and started our descent along the other side of the bridge. On another side of the bridge (non-Opera house facing side), you can see the less built up side of Sydney city, which won’t be the case for long as there was some new development going on and on the other side of the harbour was Luna Park. From here you also get a great view of the Harbour Bridge road and the Sydney city, I decided there and then that one day I will come back to do the Night BridgeClimb, the same sight would be glorious with the glow of the city lights!
We were fairly lucky throughout the climb as it was warm and sunny, on the way down it started drizzling a little so we put our rain jacket on, which was an interesting experience as all we had to do was unzip the little baggie we were carrying on our harness and put on the jacket, at first I was a little confused thinking I had dropped the bag, until I realise the jacket was sewn on to the little bag (another spaztic moment!).
We were nearing the end of our climb as we got to the steep staircase leading back down to the catwalk. As previously Natalie warned us that we will get a bit of a rush from the passing traffic, however, this time it won’t be cars zooming past us on the bridge, it would be trains, she told us to stop and lean the opposite way when a train went past and if 2 pasted at the same time to stop and hold on. Off we went down the 4 flights of stairs, I sadly didn’t get the chance to experience any trains, not that I can really remember much as I was concentrating so hard, who knew that one foot behind the other could be so difficult!
Once everyone was down on the catwalk we headed towards the office, I had asked Natalie what work was being done to the bridge, as we had noticed some construction on and around the bridge on our walk to the office. She told me, that she would tell us about it when we got closer.
As we got closer to the construction Natalie stopped and explained that the bridge was being repainted, the old led based paint was being sandblasted off and was being replaced with a lighter (in weight) Zinc paint in the exact same colour “Harbour Bridge Grey” (seriously, that’s what it’s called!). Repainting the bridge is costing a whopping $82 million(AUD). They would be using 30,000 litres of paint per coat when it was first built it took just under 300,000 litres of paint (I’m assuming this was several coats).
We continued off the catwalk through the dark wet tunnel and back into the “central operations room” (my name for it). Here we all got into a circle and unclipped bits and pieces and helped the person in front of us, we were given alcohol wipes to wipe down our earphones and we threw our hankies in the wash and returned all of the sunnies. We moved over to the radio station where we returned the radios and headsets and then moved through to return our safety harness’s, luckily I didn’t have any problems taking the harness off! We moved through the different areas very smoothly and ended up back in the locker room, we washed our hands and got changed, putting our used overalls in the “Suit Shoot” once we were back in our clothes we headed to the photo booth to check out the photos Natalie took of us and to pick up our Climb certificate!!
I received a group photo taken with the Opera House behind us at the summit of the bridge but you can choose to purchase further prints or a USB with your photos for an additional cost.
Overall experience –
Everything was extremely organised, it’s like a well-oiled machine, you go from one section to another in an organised fashion. There are a few very large fans to ensure you are always cool in summer (unsure about heating in winter) and the most impressive thing of all was that Natalie remembered all 14 participants name’s and made sure to use them throughout the day.
Would I do the BridgeClimb again?
Heck yes! I’ll be back to do the Night climb!