Conquering the Bridge

on Thursday, October 25, 2007

Photocredit: Bridgeclimb
My wife is afraid of caves. As far as phobias go, this is a relatively good phobia to have. It does not interfere much with daily living. After all, few of us today need to enter a cave in daily life. I imagine she would have had a lot of trouble if she was born during the last ice-age when caves were the "in" thing but it's no inconvenience at all today. I don't get any opportunity to tease her about it cause she just steers clear of caves. Her phobia does extend to tunnels which provides the only opportunity for me to rib her a little when we drive through a long road tunnel. Strangely and sadly, when I try to convince her that shopping malls are very similar to long, covered tunnels, it has no effect on her at all.

I, on the other hand, am afraid of heights (acrophobia) and this gives my wife ample opportunities for merry-making at my expense. Invariably, I find myself trying to conquer my fear on suspension bridges, mountain gondolas, helicopters, fun fairs and mountain climbing. I would be sweating buckets to the sound of my wife's jovial and unsympathetic laughter.

One of her long time desires and my long-term source of panic is to climb Sydney Harbour Bridge. This last week, an opportunity arose and I bit the bullet and got us registered to do the climb. Well, actually, my brother got us registered for the climb and I just whimpered my agreement when he suggested it.

Ah, the things that love makes us do. Well, on the 17th of October 2007, I risked falling to my death, heart attack and/or catatonia and actually climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Now that I have done the climb, I can say with pride that it was a "piece of cake", "a walk in the park". "The 3.5 hour ordeal is nothing." you'll hear me say through clenched teeth. Why, it is a mere 503 meters long and a trifling 134 meters high at it's peak. That's a 134 meters asl. which stands for "above sea level" or as us acrophobics prefer, "above splat level".

As the tour operators will tell you, the first and last 15 minutes of the climb are the worst. You have to physically climb up on scant and shaky ladders and stairs, walk on flimsy, catwalks suspended under the bridge and over both roaring road traffic and the waters of Sydney Harbour. There's also the little bit where you have to climb up between two lanes of the busy bridge road. If you can make it this far, the rest of the climb is indeed a pleasant and exhilarating experience. Walking the arch of the bridge is a wonderful experience which is rewarded by a beautiful panorama.

I recommend going for their dusk climb. You get to see Sydney in daylight, at sunset and after twilight. Beautiful. It also makes the return trip easier as you can no longer see how far above ground that you are. A big advantage to acrophobics.

I believe that climbing the bridge has earned me some bragging rights. So, what did you do last week? Heh, heh, heh.

The Witness Protection Agency presents Mr. Jacko Lantern and Ms. Cherry

The Masked Lone Grey Squirrel and Mrs. Squirrel; "Hand over all your nuts."


Cheryl said...

You're so brave! I can't say that I'd do the same, chalking it up to one of those experiences I could do without, like natural childbirth. The view must have been amazing. You should be so proud!

Tai said...

That's WONDERFUL! I'm so proud of you!
Conquering fears is a feeling that no one can take away from you.
Congratulations on success!

Marja said...

Give yourself a pet on the back from me. Well done. Seems you had a great time. And eh hand over all your nuts? My family is a bit nuts. We are going undercover now.

the walking man said...

I spent all last weekend looking for,as i have been for a number of years now, to fear. Nothing comes up.

I've had jobs that I had to tie off 300 feet above the splat level, and jobs where i had to go down below the ground for hours and listen to semi trucks roll over right where I was working. I've had jobs that i was inadvertently covered in Gasoline and only wanted a cigarette(just a job, but not one for the stupid).

If you can think of anything I should have a phobia over, LGS help me out here; I should be afraid of something but can't seem to find anything. And believe me I am no cowboy risk taker just a bored person who seems to find myself always in that state.

Good piece of writing though.



Janice Thomson said...

Too good Lgs! I loved this and commend you for successfully facing your fear. It couldn't have been easy.
The only nuts I have are the ones in my head and are not available for your use :)

Open Grove Claudia said...

Hurray! Good for you! And how delightful to finally let go of something that holds us down.

I'm terrified of men in gorilla suits - who knew? ;)

Christine said...

Hi. I came from Super Squirrel to say you must be OUT OF YOUR DAMN MIND. That is all.

meggie said...

Congratulations!! I could never do that!!
I am truly petrified of heights, & yet, when we went to Singapore, we went on the Gondola across to Sentosa Island, & it was Gom who was terrified, & I remained calm?

leslie said...

Pardon me for asking...can't you DRIVE onto the bridge? Does one HAVE TO resort to "shaky ladders" above splat level?
You had me giggling through this. "...when I try to convince her that shopping malls...are similar to tunnels..."
I love the witness protection identity alterations. The Mysterious Ms Cherry and Jacko...

I am wary of any manmade structure. I deal with them, but prefer splat level.

...Kat said...

amazing amazing amazing

I saw lots of footage of that bridge and crossings of it back when the Olympics were on in Sydney

It is one thing for me to be up as high as I am (ssshhh) but quite another thing when one is exposed like you were!

Bravo Bravo Bravo

Jocelyn said...

I'm not particularly afraid of heights, but your description made my knees a little weak!

Good for you for pushing yourself to overcome that fear.

Btw, your first paragraph of this post is one of your funniest ever.

Anonymous said...

You are brave! It is like an arachnophobic going into the zoo's spider-house to help out - never ever would do that.
It is a very funny text, congratulations on this too.

evalinn said...

Since I'm terrified both of heights and small spaces, u have all my respect now!

blackcrag said...

Nice job. It's good to push yourself past your comfort level. I do it when I talk to strangers. It's not a phobia, just past history's lessons.

My general fears are more common sense which don't interfere with my daily life either; like a fear of hungry lions wandering around my neighbourhood.

I might be a little claustrophobic, but I don't think I'll ever find out until I go spelunking or crawl through the interior of a pyramid. Those are pretty small tunnels for a tall, broad-shouldered Canuck.

Ruth said...

Well done LGS...I would hope to have enough courage to do that, but I'm not sure..

kimber the wolfgrrrl said...

Amazing! Well done! And congratulations on conquering your fear!

(I think I may just add this endeavour to my list of Lifetime To-Do's! What a great view!)

Sincerity said...

Wow! One fear conquered... at least for a day. :) Nice pictures Mr. Squirrel.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Thanks. The euphoria has worn off but I still enjoy receiving compiments on account of how very, very difficult it was for me. of course,I was fortified by the fear of the following headlines,"Petrified Climber rescued. Firemen had to pry his fingers from the bridge railing."

Thanks but you know, this is like the arms race.......never ending. My wife hs already started to talk about bungee jumping. Ulp!

Thank you but do you realise that you come from the country that invented my greatest nemesis. (read my comment to tai above)

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

It doesn't sound like that you need to have a phobia to conquer but rather you need to re-experience the thrill of living.

I humbly suggest a) doing something that would give you a sense of achievement. If you can't dance, then learn and learn to perform in front of people. If you can't cook, try it out by having a dinner party over. b) doing something where you are supposed to be in control but you are horribly not. For example, offer to take the neighborhood kids for an overnight camping trip or babysit and change daipers for a toddler. I believe that you will emerge from such experiences with either a sense of achievement or just happy to have survived! Vive la Vie.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

It wasn't so much facing my fear as surviving it! But thanks. I have nuts in my head too. I always hear them rolling around!

"men in gorilla suits", you say. how interesting! Hmmmmm. Is this something that you encounter often in your life?

Out of my mind??? Perhaps. But wait till I try bungee. I predict I will be scared out of my body as well.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Congrats on doing the Sentosa Island gondola. Join me for bungee next?

Giggle away but you didn't mention you phobia? I like the lone ranger masks in the second photo.

people reading your comment would wrongly think that you are high on something! Wink! It's no acheivement when you learn that the bridge was built by workers walking around with no safety lines at all or even railings!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Thanks. I always appreciate your comments about my writing. I will re-read my first para to see what i did right!

When you are scared out of your mind, it helps to try to laugh it off.

scared of heights and closed spaces? It isn't it wonderful that you live in a country that is wide open and relatively flat? Cheers! Congrats on your own amazing adventures in China.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I can identify with both issues that you mentioned. I too find talking to strangers to be a great effort and as a kid, I had a recurring nightmare about panthers and leopards loose in the neighborhood. Weird, eh?

You won't know if you don't try. I believe you can do it. Pick a tall building, tower, bridge or mountain to conquer. It will be terrifying but after you've done it, it will feel so sweet. Go on try and tell us about it.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

It was a wonderful view. Quite romantic too, so I would warmly recommend it.

Indeed, I can tackle heights with more confidence now but the fear never really leaves. I will still feel the fear but perhaps i can walk a little faster now.

Lorraine said...

These photos are FABULOUS Lone grey, bravo!!!
ps I've re-read my translation of your Poem and I'm satisfied with it...I forgot just how beautiful your poem is until I read it again. I hope you posted it or will do so...If you need a photo, you're welcome to any of mine ;)

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