Four little ladders. That’s it. The scariest, most difficult part of the famed Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb was a mere four ladders long. I’m not afraid of heights per se, but I definitely look before I leap. So I tackled these ladders very slowly and very carefully, and it took me all of three minutes, at the absolute most. The rest of the climb? Piece of cake. The highest, coolest, most amazing piece of cake you’ve ever seen.
There are a lot of different options once you decide you want to climb the bridge, with a variety of different pros, cons, and prices. Here’s a quick rundown:
The Sampler is basically a watered down version of the climb. You ascend the inner arch and only end up halfway to the top. They bill this as ideal if you are short on time, want to save money, or are afraid of heights.
With the BridgeClimb Express package, you go all the way to the top just like most of the other ones, but you do so much quicker, with fewer photo and info stops.
The Day Climb is basically the classic climb- you go all the way to the highest point of the bridge at a relaxed pace, stopping for photos and listening to interesting commentary by your guide. These take place throughout the day when it is completely light outside.
As the climb in between day and night, the Twilight Climb the most expensive item on the menu but we found it worth it. You get the best of every world- the view in the brightness of day, the view in the darkness of night, with the sun slipping slowly away so that the view changes every few minutes.
The Night Climbs begin once it is already dark outside, so that you are constantly surrounded by the dark night sky and the city lights of Sydney.
Offered on a very limited basis, the Dawn Climb starts very early in the morning and allows you to watch the sun rise as you climb the bridge.
The office was easy to find in the Rocks area, and we were greeted by photos of celebrities who had done the climb. It was fun to comb through these while waiting for our tour to begin. The preparation before the climb is a lengthy process, starting with forms to fill out and a breathalyzer test. Then you have to gear up- and gear down, so to speak. You are given a special jumpsuit to wear and depending on the weather they advise you if you should keep your clothes on underneath it. Since it was a hot day we were told to go commando! Absolutely no loose articles are allowed. Anything that goes around your wrist is prohibited as well, so watches need to come off. Your glasses must be secured with a strap, and the only cap you are allowed to bring is a special BridgeClimb cap that is clipped to your jumpsuit. Not even a tissue can be brought up, instead you need to use a special hankerchief attached to your sleeve! You are also given a headset to put on so that you can hear commentary from your guide. Because the sun would set while we were up there, we also needed headlamps- and I can attest that these came in very handy on the way down!
The harness is the most important piece of equipment you’ll wear. It wraps tightly around your waist and then attaches to a wire along the bridge. It has a bit of slack, so that you can walk comfortably and gather for photos, but once it is on the wire it cannot come off until you finish the climb. We got used to these by hooking into the wire on the practice ladder, and everyone got a chance to go up two levels and down two levels before we even got outside. It was a little confusing at first, as once you get to the bottom or top of the ladder you have to remember to turn the correct way or else you will end up tangling yourself in your harness.
Then we all lined up single file behind our awesome guide, a young woman named Bronte, hooked ourselves in and headed out! Initially, it is a bit nerve wracking. The busy road down below, the loud rumble of the trains, and the narrow nature of the ledge we were walking on were enough to make most of us a little unsettled. Before long we were at those four ladders I mentioned earlier, and we each took our turn slowly and carefully just like we had practiced. There are additional guides stationed at the top and bottom of these ladders to make sure everyone is doing okay. Once the ladders were behind us everyone’s demeanor suddenly changed. Since we had cleared all the beams and reached that upper arch, the view opened up to this spectacular vista. A light breeze was ruffling our jumpsuits and the railings kept us feeling secure. As we began our ascent of the arch, Bronte told us wonderful stories about the bridge itself, the start of the BridgeClimb, and so many interesting moments from her time as a guide. Once we were most of the way up we had our first photo stop with the Opera House in the background. We also took a photo at the very top with the sunset, and our final photo was after crossing to the other side of the arch with the lit up city of Sydney behind us.
As we were preparing to go down the ladders and leave the arch behind, thus ending our climb, we realized the harbor fireworks were due to begin soon so Bronte allowed us to hang out and wait. While it wasn’t a perfect view, it was an incredibly unique one. One of the ladder guides took Bronte’s camera and ventured a little further away for an unobstructed view, where he snapped the amazing shots just below. We truly could not have imagined a better way to end the night than with some beautiful fireworks!
This climb was easily both the most expensive and the most rewarding thing we did in Sydney. It is often regarded as too “touristy” for many folks, but you simply can’t argue with the experience. It was a bit thrilling, a bit relaxing, very unique, and totally awesome.
Because you are not allowed to bring any sort of camera, most of these photos were taken by our guide, Bronte, and we purchased them at the end of our tour. The group photo was complimentary, as was a BridgeClimb cap. If we ever return to Sydney this is high on our list of things to do again. Perhaps we would try a Day Climb or Night Climb just for something different, though if you are going for your first time I highly recommend the Twilight Climb. You won’t be disappointed. http://www.bridgeclimb.com