So maybe the Sydney Harbor bridge was extreme but I wanted to climb to the top of the world to announce the launch my new website, WomanScape. It had to be dramatic and fearless, and towering almost 450 feet above sea level certainly fit.
I walk under foreboding clouds from my nearby hotel to the “Rocks” area just under the bridge and arrive at the checkpoint station. Changing into my spiffy climber’s suit, I follow my assigned group through a series of simulator test climbs, before we are cleared to walk the narrow staircases and challenging heights1. My team of twelve moves in convoy hoping the heavy rain will slow enough to prevent the climb from being canceled. I hum Nina Simone’s Feeling Good song to bolster my nerves. (You can listen on YouTube as you read on.)
From the onset, everyone is individually tethered to a sliding clamp that ambles along the metal rails for the duration of the climb. You can’t disengage the harness until you finish so your climb and your pace are connected to those in front and behind you.
As my rollercoaster nerves resonate with the clinking sounds of the noisy clamp I gradually fall into a steady rhythm, and my fear gives way to a new focus – reaching the summit. The ache in my legs signals progress and rest stops become conversations with others while slower teammates catch up.
I learn each of us has a story – a reason for climbing. Few are as dramatic as the 42 years of construction and the workers who soldered more than 6 million steel rivets (without harnesses) to complete the “people’s bridge” in 1922. But our stories are a shared connection of tribulation and conquest – they are our bridge to self and to each other2. The climbers on each side of me reinforce this, my sense of purpose and the reasons for my climb.
In front of me, a bubbly and fit computer engineer named Krissy chats easily and smiles often at our rugged-looking guide. Her climb is part of a three month exploration of Asia, Africa and Oceania before starting her first full time job in the maps department at Google. The woman behind me is a veteran climber, less talkative but committed to doing this every year. It reminds her to take chances and live life boldly. This is also a great story. Like Krissy, I am designing a new map for myself, but the expensive cost of climbing the bridge is enough for me to be a fast learner with a long memory; no need to be a repeat climber like the woman in front. I will be fearless and brave enough to fail.
As I near the top of the summit, I flashback through the stages in life that I have already climbed. My education, 28 years of marriage, several careers, motherhood and the loss of a child. In the 52 years it took to me get here, I am just beginning and the clouds have cleared. I can almost touch the sky and the Blue Mountains to the north. The landscape is endless as far as I can see and the ground rises up around me.
Looking out over the deep waters, my eyes settle on the breathtaking oyster-colored Opera House and I imagine peeling away its outer shell. I will create from my core and dance to my own music.
As I stand on the summit, the camera snaps my picture. I marvel at the powerful sun and the gust of wind that sweeps through my
“It’s a new day, a new dawn and I’m feeling good.”
I’d love to hear your story, your climb. Reach out and send me a note or a pic. There’s plenty of room on the bridge.
- To learn more about the climb, see http://www.bridgeclimb.com/#your-arrival
- To read about the bridge history, see http://www.harbourbridge.com.au/hbpages/historycontx.html