BridgeClimb Sydney Review @ Harbour Bridge
Wow, this is one of the coolest and most unique tourist activities you can do anywhere on earth. I enjoyed experiencing BridgeClimb Sydney on a beautiful Friday morning and partook in the BridgeClimb Express.
In case you aren’t familiar, this activity allows you to climb up to the top of Sydney’s most famous bridge, the Harbour Bridge. The climb has been around since 1998 and it’s very well known. In summary, you climb up the arch of the bridge to the top, and along the way you get stunning views, with a bit of history and climbing adventure thrown in.
The climb starts in the Rocks section of Sydney. It’s about a 10 minute uphill walk from the Circular Quay area. I got winded just doing that walk, so was surprised I made it to the top of the bridge too! Make sure you keep hydrated before and after your climb.
You can select climbs that start very early around dawn, all the way through nighttime. I would suggest going during day-time so that the views will be the clearest, but if you’re a night owl, the twilight climbs could be cool as you get day and night views. Personally I’d avoid the night climb, just because I can’t see where I’ll be going as easily. There’s a few parts where you need to duck and hop over some of the metalwork.
How the process works
- Sign-in at reception about 15 minutes prior to your scheduled climb and receive a ticket.
- At the starting time you’ll be called in to a briefing room where basic information about the climb and disclosures need to be completed.
- Receive your climbing suit, change clothes, and lock all of your personal belongings in a secured individual locker. Note you cannot really bring much of anything on the climb, including cameras, loose jewelry, phones, etc. You can wear your sunglasses however, and you’ll get a glasses attachment for that.
- Hats & handkerchiefs were provided and could be attached to your climbing suit. During cold weather and darkness, BridgeClimb will provide additional items needed; see below. In reality, you only need to show up with underwear and sneakers.
- You’ll proceed down a catwalk and into another room where you’ll receive your harnesses. They’ll also do a quick introduction of the climbing guide and other members of your group.
- Receive your radio and complete other last minute items such as applying sunblock.
- Proceed to the start of the climb, hook-up your slider to the safety rope, and off you go!
I was worried about getting dehydrated during the climb, so I suggest doing the climb early if it’s going to be a hot day. There are 2 water fountains on the climb, one on way up and one on the way down. Nothing once you’re actually above the roadway, so make sure you drink enough before you start. Also, you’ll want to eat a breakfast, (or brekkie in Australian,) so ensure you have enough energy to go up.
During the climb the guide will walk you through different parts of the bridge, tell your various stories about the construction, give you a bit of history about Sydney as well. It’s very interesting for history buffs.
The pace of the BridgeClimb Express was very acceptable for me, I thought it went at a fast enough pace where it didn’t take forever to get to the top of the bridge, and still slow enough where you can rest and catch a breather. I went on a relatively warm day as well, probably about 25 degrees. Because of that, we actually didn’t wear anything under the climbing suit except out underwear and it was still a bit warm.
On the way up and at the top the guide will snap a few photos for you to purchase if you wish at the end. You’ll get one free group photo though, which is nice. See mine below.
Descending the bridge is really quick and the guide gives you a few more tidbits and stories before you realize you’re back at the foot of the bridge. Staff will ask you to complete a survey and change back into your original clothes. You’ll have the opportunity to purchase any additional photos and receive a climber certificate when you leave as well.
Overall I found the staff incredibly knowledgeable and personable. Also, the facilities are really nice, clean, well labeled, and separated. I never felt awkward changing amongst other people, or that the clothes was dirty (and I’m a bit of a clean freak.) The equipment all appeared in a good shape and relatively new as well. Keep in mind the climb isn’t cheap, so you’re paying for all the nice things, but I appreciated that everything felt nice and clean, and in safe and working order.
If you are in Sydney and looking for a really unique experience, the BridgeClimb is the one to do. As mentioned, it’s not for those on a really tight budget, but certainly memorable if you can afford it. By the way, included in your climb is free admission to the pylon lookout. There you’ll see a bunch of exhibits about the bridge and enjoy a view from the lookout.
There are four different climbs to choose from:
- BridgeClimb is about 3.5 hours and you’ll slowly ascend the top arch towards the top of the bridge. You’ll get plenty of time to interact with the guide and enjoy the views. Probably best for those wanting a really relaxing pace of climbing, and you’ll get to linger more at the top.
- BridgeClimb Express is a faster version of the full BridgeClimb, where you still go up to the top of the bridge, while ascending on the lower arch. It takes about 2.25 hours. I found this pace to be suitable for most people. The age range in my group was from 30-50 years, and no one appeared to have much difficulty walking up all of the stairs and ramps.
- BridgeClimb Mandarin is the same as the BridgeClimb Express, but in Mandarin. Great for all of those mainlanders or Taiwanese traveling to Sydney these days. Too bad there’s no BridgeClimb Cantonese for us here in Hong Kong & Macau, but the English will suffice.
- BridgeClimb Sampler is the quickest climb of all at 1.5 hours from the time you check-in and get back to the changing room. I probably wouldn’t recommend this for a few reasons. First you don’t walk to the top of the bridge, if you’re going to spend all this effort to sign-up, change clothes, get equipped, you might as well just do the longer climb. But if you’re really in a time crunch this could be for a good choice.
Note: the times quote includes all of the disclaimer signing, briefing, changing clothes, etc. So the actual climb is shorter than the time frames quoted. Also, you will be breath tested for alcohol, you need to be below 0.05% blood alcohol level. I suggest just not drinking at all beforehand.