by Scott Kraft / © 2019, Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
The view over Sydney’s harbor is postcard-perfect. Yellow ferries and gleaming yachts crisscross the harbor, surrounded by palms, evergreens and, beyond, the famous beaches of Bondi and Manly. The Opera House, an architectural marvel, is Sydney’s Eiffel Tower.
Soaring above it all is a steel arch bridge, the largest and widest of its kind in the world.
Capitalizing on the experience
Two decades ago, a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization decided to escort visiting company chiefs on a climb to the top of that bridge to take in the best view in Sydney. He turned it into a business, and more than 3 million people have made the climb.
It is described not only as an adventure for people willing to pay more than $200, but also as a cure for what ails you, if what ails you is a fear of heights.
I admit to some nervousness as two friends and I approached our appointment for a climb earlier this year. We had chosen the “twilight climb,” beginning just before 6 p.m. I don’t like heights, but I agreed to go along.
Gearing up for an adventure
When the evening of the climb arrived, we checked in at the southern end of the bridge. Each climbing group is limited to 12, with a guide. We began by filling out legal release forms, not exactly confidence-inspiring, but a feature of our modern world.
We changed into blue Star Trek-like jumpsuits and were outfitted with harnesses and a circular plastic device to hook to the guy wires on the bridge. We put on headlamps and tied handkerchiefs around our wrists to ward off flop sweat. We climbed sets of steep steel stairs indoors to get a feel for what we were about to face. Finally, we were each given a wireless headset so we could hear our leader on the bridge.
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