It was only after exhaling a sigh of relief from passing a breathalyser test that I started to wonder what the hell I'd gotten into.
All personal effects surrendered, disclaimer signed and our group - who had confessed therapy session-style who we were and why we were here - had slipped apprehensively into our jumpsuits.
And when asked to fasten securely into a harness and advised not to look down when venturing outside, I entertained the possibility I'd walked through the wrong door and was taking a crash-course in skydiving and not scaling one of the world's most famous landmarks - Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Almost an hour into the experience, the military-style preparation had gotten us into our safety gear, with checks and double-checks ticked.
We even had a test on a training stairwell to make sure we knew how to negotiate being tethered to a cable the length and breadth of the planet's tallest steel arch bridge at 440 feet from top to water level, which has been conquered by celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Justin Timberlake, Robert De Niro and even Prince Harry.
Finally, it was time to go through the door and take "the climb of your life," as it's called. I admit, having never considered being afraid of heights, this reporter's bravery was in doubt and we weren't even on the bridgedeck yet! And, as we took our first few tentative steps along a narrow mesh walkway about 100 feet above ground, being dead last in the group, I asked the couple in front of me to take a peak over their shoulder now and again - to make sure I was still there.
Thankfully, that first very tight, exposed 200 yards under the bridgedeck and then up several flights of virtually vertical stairs, was as sweaty as it got. And those small pangs of fear were a small price to pay for the reward that awaited when we stepped onto the arch, which was markedly wider and surprisingly less exposed than the journey along and up.
As we picked our way up the arch, the 360-degree panorama of the harbour, Sydney in entirety and, of course, the Opera House, arrested mind, body and soul.
When we hit the top, there was a few magical stolen, silent minutes to inhale all that lay beneath, perhaps remembering loved ones lost and thanking whomever/whatever you worship that you are, indeed, alive.
There were high-gives, hugs, kisses and a teardrop or two among our group, some from Europe, Africa and, of course, Australia.
And throughout the memorable three-hour journey, our guide talked us through the rich history of the bridge, opened in 1932 and was, until our very own Port Mann twinning project last year, the world's widest.
Climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge is at the higher end of the tourist attraction spectrum at around $200 each. But it's not top of Australian's "bucket list" for no reason and is a once-in-a-lifetime experience I'll never forget.
IF YOU GO:
- Alternative, shorter climbs are available. And Bridge Climb has just started offering selected climbs in Mandarin.