“Oh. My. Gawd. WHAT did I get myself into?” I look at my husband and wait for his reaction. Nothing. Huh. “I’m going to trip and tumble to my death!” I exclaim more loudly this time. Ryan rolls his eyes. Rude. “Baaaaabe, I’m really nervous. Like, really, REALLY nervous. I don’t know if I can do this…” At this point, he knows he has to respond:
“Karisa. You always say this and you’re always fine. You’re going to be fine.”
Easy for him to say. I’m not sure he has met a travel-related experience that’s made him nervous. When we dove with great white sharks in South Africa I was thrilled to get the heck out of the water, yet he went in for another dive…and then another. I mean, they were snapping at my cage! My hands and legs were flailing about outside and could have easily become a snack for one of the massive beasts…
“Oh, and you’ll be strapped in. So, even you couldn’t actually fall off the bridge,” he adds.
When I originally booked my flight to New Zealand via Sydney, I had no interest in climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I knew it was one of the things you “must-do” because I couldn’t read a blog post or travel article titled anything close to “Things To Do in Sydney” without the BridgeClimb being mentioned, but with limited time (and unlimited fear and anxiety), the climb didn’t initially make my itinerary. However, eventually my “fear of missing out” got the best of me and I showed the BridgeClimb Sydney website to my husband.
Of course he wanted to do it. I should have known.
We agreed on the BridgeClimb Sampler due to our time constraints… oh, and that fear of heights I keep mentioning. The Sampler is a 1.5 hour climb up the inner arch of the bridge and is the shortest climb BridgeClimb Sydney offers.
Fast forward to our arrival at the BridgeClimb Base where I was about take my first step out onto the iron giant. Gulp. I was terrified. Yep. I was not fine as he promised I would be. Despite having made strides towards overcoming my fear of heights and continually testing myself through epic travel experiences like this one, my fear isn’t something I’ve wholly conquered.
Our BridgeClimb Leader, Bianca, strapped me in next to her in the front of the group after seeing the look of apprehension on my face. I took a deep breath, glanced back at Ryan and told myself that I had to step forward onto the bridge’s catwalk. With the pressure of the whole group waiting behind me, I forced myself to continually place one shaky foot in front of the other. Slowly but surely my legs stopped shaking (even though my vice grip on the bridge’s rails didn’t loosen up one bit).
Before I knew it, the bridge’s structure opened up to stunning views of the city. And then there it was – the striking Sydney Opera House! I was so excited I almost forgot how high up I was as Bianca continued to chat with me. She told told me about the construction of the bridge, fun facts about the city of Sydney, and asked me plenty of questions in an effort to distract me from fixating on how high we had climbed (or thinking about how many seconds it would take me to free fall before reaching the concrete ground far below me).
I reminded myself to look forward and out – not down. This was actually easier to do than I expected given the breathtaking panoramic views of Sydney… aside from when I had to descend some grated stairs affording me a clear view of the cars zooming across the bridge thousands of feet below (which may have caused a temporary relapse of me shaking like a leaf again for a minute or so).
Aside from my minor (ahem…) issue with those stairs, I really was surprised how “easy” the climb became after the first five or ten minutes. I think a big part of this was due to Bianca’s skilled and calming presence. (I learned that the BridgeClimb Leaders actually receive training on how to deal with guests who are anxious about heights, like me). Despite the intense elevation, I also think my fear was managed by the fact I felt fairly “secure” since I was strapped into the bridge’s structure and was able to hold onto the bridge’s railing most of the time.
What To Expect When Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge
You’ll arrive at BridgeClimb Sydney’s Base (which is conveniently located near the tourist attractions in The Rocks) at your scheduled time for your pre-climb prep. You’ll complete your waiver and take a breathalyzer test (this one seems like common sense, but hold off on the cocktails until after your climb), and then your Climb Leader will outfit you with your climb jumpsuit and gear. With your Leader as your guide, you’ll ascend the arches of the Bridge and enjoy the iconic views of one of the most beautiful harbors on earth.
What You Need to Know for Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge
- You will be given all the outerwear and equipment you need for your climb based on the current weather conditions. All you need to do is wear closed-toed rubber soled shoes and sunglasses. You’ll also be given a baseball hat which is yours to keep after the climb.
- You can’t bring anything with you on the Bridge for safety reasons, but you’ll be given access to a locked locker where you can store your belongings. This means you can’t bring a phone or camera to take pictures. I initially panicked a bit when I first learned this. (I mean, it really never happened unless you post it on Facebook, right?) Luckily, your Climb Leader will take photos during the climb for you. You’ll get one photo to take home with you and will have the opportunity to purchase additional ones.
- Your BridgeClimb ticket also comes with a certificate of achievement and free entry to the bridge’s pylon lookout (where you can take your own photos).
My Thoughts on Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge
I choose the BridgeClimb Sampler (1.5 hours scaling the inner arch of the bridge), due to time constraints and my fear of heights. Setting these concerns aside, I couldn’t help but wonder whether the original BridgeClimb (3.5 hours) would seem too long, or whether I would have the fitness level to keep up with the Express Climb (which covers the same height of the original BridgeClimb but does so in only 2.25 hours). I assumed that once I was out on the bridge for a while I would gladly be ready to come down ASAP after “having seen it.” But, now that I have done the climb, I can honestly say I wish I would have chosen the Express Climb so I could have climbed further and been out on the bridge longer.
I had a FANTASTIC time on the bridge and was actually enjoying myself immensely once my anxiety calmed down. Take it from this trepidatious traveler, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a once in a lifetime experience that shouldn’t be missed! You can find out more information about BridgeClimb Sydney here.
Related Posts: Epic 10 Day Australia and New Zealand Itinerary
Are you afraid of heights? What do you think about climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge?
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Although I was a guest of BridgeClimb Sydney, as always, all opinions are my own. Photos courtesy of BridgeClimb Sydney.
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