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Published: March 17th 2018
This is going to be a quick, down and dirty account of this extreme adventure. Well, perhaps it was not so extreme, but "jaunty stroll on the bridge"doesn’t have the same pizazz that would make you want to read this. Am I right? Yeah, I thought I might be, so here we go.
The transition from the luxurious Indian Pacific train to the streets of Sydney was harsh. Luggage was offloaded in the middle of the platform, where the luggage cars were. Before pulling into the station, the train had been split in half and my carriage was way at the end of the adjoining platform. It was a hot, sticky day in Sydney and my sights were set on getting to the hotel, resting and getting down to the Bridge. The hotel I chose was based upon convenience, not luxury and I was able to walk there, which was great. What wasn’t great was how I continually ran my suitcase over my shoe as I walked. Hot, sweaty, cranky and mumbling unkind things to myself (and a few times out loud) I walked up the hill to the hotel.
Happily, my room was ready and I
Sunset over the Harbor
This was taken when I was with Dancing Dave, Denise and Jo Trouble, but goes with this blog as well.
was able to check in, take a long hot shower and rest. Showers on the train were very nice but water pressure was lackluster and the shower head was pointed at my chest. They were mighty convenient but were very utilitarian and far from luxurious. Ironically, the hotel shower was almost the same. Still, it felt great and made me a little less cranky. Having been off the grid for 4 days, I had a good amount of email and Facebook stuff to take care of before I had to leave to head down to the bridge.
Although I didn’t fall asleep, I did find myself rushing to get myself ready for the Bridge Climb. My group was set for a twilight climb, to take advantage of the sunset and darkness of dusk for great pictures (spoiler alert, it worked.) I grabbed a taxi to take me down and had just enough time to grab a quick bite before I had to be there. Next to the water, it was breezy and blissfully cool. If there was time, I would have enjoyed spending more time wandering around and checking out the scenery. As it was, I wolfed down my
A Zoom of the Climbers
It gives perspective of the size of this
sandwich, gave a lick and a promise to the fries and was back and running within 7 minutes. Fortunately a chef is used to eating on the go, so this was fairly normal for me.
Back at the Bridge Climb center, I sat watching a video of what was going to occur. Was I nervous? Yes! Was I nervous because I was afraid of the heights? Heck no! After climbing up and over Wayna Picchu and climbing the Wayna Picchu Stairs of Death
(seriously, google that exact phrase for a YouTube video and see what I mean), I was not concerned about a nice hike while tethered securely to a bridge. I was nervous because I didn’t want to be the limpy gazelle who slowed the group down, huffing, puffing and gasping for air after climbing a few steps. Less afraid of falling to my death than of being looked upon as slow and out of shape. Yeah, that is a healthy outlook on life that has gotten me into more situations than I can count.
Ours was a group of 14 People of varying ages and athletic ability. Looking around, I sized up who I thought I
View from the Other Side
Ok, I took this later, but it does give a great view
could out climb and who would leave me in the dust. We were given a breathalyzer to make sure we were fit to climb, signed consent forms and headed to the next room to be outfitted in our blue and gray jumpsuits. Clearly the one size fits all does not apply to someone of my height, but I not only made it work, but looked fierce doing it. Jauntily walking on a catwalk over the lobby and the people milling below, we headed to the heart of the operation. As dorky as it may be, and it truly is, I had visions of the astronauts doing their walk to the shuttle in their jumpsuits. The cheers I heard may have been only in my head, but they were loud and encouraging. One by one we were given a climb belt, head lamp, hat, handkerchief and radio headset so we could hear Sheena, our Climb leader. Everything had to be clipped onto us. My sunglasses, hat and handkerchief were securely fastened to me. My money clip, wallet, camera and everything else I jam in my pockets on an average day had been stowed in a locker.
Properly dressed for success,
it was time to try out our skills on a simulator. This is a fancy word for a set of ladders connected by a catwalk. Threading our slide guides onto the cable, we each climbed up, over and down, getting used to the feeling of having the slide guide beside us. Clumsy and slow at first, we all manhandled the slide guide before giving up control and letting it do its thing. Aside from smacking my shins into the ladder going up, this was fairly easy. Perhaps I wasn’t going to have a heart attack and collapse. The cheers in my head rose to a thunderous roar as we made our way to the bridge. Sh*t was getting real here and I was going to kick some serious Bridge Booty. After attaching my slide guide to the cable and walking down the concrete hallway I stepped out onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Show time!!
The first section of the journey was pleasant and had nice views of the Opera House, harbor and great views down to the Earth. We could see lots of boats and ferries out on the water as we strolled along single file, listening to Sheena
point out sights and give us the history of the bridge. Being below the road deck, we could hear traffic and the screech of the trains overhead. At times we would reach sections where we had to bend down to climb through pipes and beams, but other than that this was a cake walk on the cat walk. Looking at pictures, you can see the catwalk down below. The wind had picked up and had a nice cooling effect. Nothing to be scared of here.
Moving on, we reached the series of ladders. Only one person could be on the ladder at a time. I was the third from the last climber, so had plenty of time to look around, enjoy the view and rest. The ladders took us up past the road deck and up onto the graceful span. Heck, there were steps on the span. The dark metal structure with its huge rivets led up in a gradual path up, up and up. As we climbed, we stopped for a picture of us with the sunset in the background. Timing is everything and this was timed perfectly. Finally, there we were. We were at the top of
the Sydney Harbour Bridge, bracing ourselves against the wind. The Australian flag was whipping in the wind, welcoming us. One by one we did our self-congratulatory picture and a group shot. Since I wasn’t taking notes, I am going off memory here. If I recall correctly, we were about 450 feet up. Whatever it was, it was a long way down to the road deck and traffic below and even further down to the water. I had barely broken a sweat, so this was a great victory.
Going down was a long, slow process. The sun had set and it was getting darker as we descended. Quietly, we followed the same path we had taken earlier, but on the opposite side of the bridge. Lights had turned on in the buildings and Sydney was lit up and beautiful. After about 3 hours, we slid our guide slides off the cable and were finished. All in all we went up and down about 1400 steps. It was a whole heck of a lot of fun and something I would do again. The undressing process was long and slow as it had to be done in a specific order. All I
wanted was to be in my street clothes, holding a bottle of water in the back of a taxi, heading back to my hotel. And you know, that is exactly what happened. For a one-off afternoon in Sydney, this was the way to go. I will be off to Ayers Rock Airport in the morning, so please check back to see how that turned out. Until then, Ciao!
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