Purple People Bridge Cl!mb

Trip Report: Purple People Bridge Cl!mb

Purple People Bridge over the Ohio River

Base Camp: Newport on the Levee,Newport, KY

September 4, 2006

The Purple People Bridge

One of the newest attractions in the Greater Cincinnati area is the Purple People Bridge Climb, or as they like to call it the Purple People Bridge Cl!mb.  This particular Bridge Climb is the only one in the entire Northern Hemisphere, let alone the United States of America.  This means that you may be asking yourself:

What is a Bridge Climb?

A Bridge Climb (Cl!mb) is a trendy tourist attraction that endeavors to offer guests a unique and novel experience.  In this case that experience is scaling the superstructure on a large bridge. It is the kind of small group personal experience where you get the services of a guide who gets to know each participant on a first name basis, has an enthusiastic personality, presents interesting information, and goes out of their way to make your experience the most it can be. Also, as an experience, all equipment and training you need is included in the base price.  Once they have you up there, you can also enjoy seeing the riverfront area from an entirely new and interesting viewpoint.  As if that isn't enough for you, there is also the much puffed sense of achievement they hope to instill in you. The adventure-sport of bridge climbing comes to us from the land downunder, with the first two climbs in Australia and New Zealand.  To be clear, no technical climbing skill is required, if you can handle steep stairs and ladders, you too can Bridge Climb. Ok, so now you are probably asking:

What interested you in paying to Bridge Climb?

I admit, that I don't consider myself your typical candidate for the Bridge Climb experience, and probably would have sumarrily ignored it if not for one thing.  Several years back I was watching "The Amazing Race". "The Amazing Race" is a television reality show where teams race each other around the world on an international racecourse in the hopes of winning money.  Along the way, they must perform tasks in order to advance in the race.  In season 2 of The Amazing Race, the race went through Sydney, Australia.  During that leg of the race, teams were required to retrieve a clue from atop the Sydney Harbor Bridge.  Their means for reaching that clue was to participate in the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb. As such, the attraction was given a generous amount of television time and I instantly took a liking to it.  The experience looked to be novel, safe and fun, and at the same time managed to not look challenging or difficult. But,that was half a world away, so I figured that was that.

Step into the time machine and warp forward to November, 2005.  I was surfing the internet and reading roller coaster message boards.  On on such board a thread popped up "Purple People Bridge Climb - Would you do this?"  I glanced over the thread, and it wasn't too long until I was pointing my web browser at the official website. I scoured the official site for information, and I really liked what I saw.  I was even fortunate to find a shockwave file that contained a Powerpoint style show that laid out the attraction as well as the business case for the attraction, financial projections, and detailed operational materials. As an amusement park enthusiast, I do have an interest in the operational side of the business, and the presentation helped satisfy a curiosity for how the attraction works on an operational level.  It has stuff like "A typical climb" where it laid out the timetable and what happens when, went over all the safety precautions, and then got into some ROI type discussion.  I am glad I had the thought to save the show to my local hard drive, as that was soon removed from their website. I knew I wanted to go for a climb, the question was when.  There were some constructions delays, so by the time the attraction opened, I was going on my major summer vacation, then I was just too busy, and it was too hot to climb in July.  I started thinking about the Bridge Climb again in August. One of the things that brought it to the front of my mind is a major change in the pricing structure was announced.  Originally, climbs were to go for about $60 with peak times at $80.  In August they instituted a new scheme where not only was the peak time premium eliminated, they announced weekday climbs for only $40. It's starting to get reasonable.  They also announced a teen/student price of $30 which allows them to post huge advertisements with "Climbs start at just $29.95" I note on their website that all Cl!mbs are only $39.95 starting September 17, I wonder if this means they are not exactly meeting their goals, or if its just an off season special.

It is also true that I am, shall we say a bit oversized.  I know this has caused me grief on some rides and in looking at the promotional pictures, the Climb looked like an activity aimed at the trim and fit athletic type.  I had concerns about my weight and girth as they relate to the size of the climbing gear.  I could not get an answer to my questions on their web page, and I was a bit embarrassed to ask over the phone. Then one night in early August, I was meeting some friends for dinner over at Newport on the Levee, so I thought I could arrive a bit early and do some research.  I took a bus to the Ohio side of the river.  This allowed me to use the Purple People Bridge for its main purpose, which was to cross the river, and at the same time I could perform my own visual inspection of the bridge.  I could see some of the catwalks that have been added and verified the stairs didn't look too steep.  Way above I saw the achievement bell at the top of the highest span of the bridge, and I could see how low down to the bridge deck the climbway comes at points. To make it clear, whenever the climbway gets low to the ground, they have posted signs warning against unauthorized climbing.  As I was walking along the bridge, I heard the bridge climbers before I saw them,  It seems the securement to the static line makes quite a racket. When I reached Newport, I visited Base Camp where a ticket salesperson was friendly, answered my questions, and gave me a brochure. I leaned the weight limit is 310 pounds.  I may be heavy, but I'm not that heavy.  When I commented about if they have a climb suit my size, she laid aside my fears by saying that they have taken people larger than me on the climb.  I thanked her and went off to my dinner.

I had made plans to go in the middle of August, but as fate would have it, it rained that day. I was then sitting surfing the net on August 30 when I wondered, "Does the Labor Day holiday count as a weekday or weekend in terms of bridge climb prices?"  I checked the on line ticketing computer and learned that it would count as a weekday, and that there were times available.  Having unsuccessfully tried recruiting partners to go with me, I checked to make sure my schedule was clear, then went ahead and made a reservation for September 4, 2006 at 11:30AM.  Moments later I was the proud owner of a Cl!mb Ticket.  The week between me buying the ticket and climbing, I took researching the attraction to new height .by carefully reading the press releases and studying the PR photos I was able to identify the type of safety devices used.  You could say I had post ticket purchase jitters,I don't consider myself to be athletic or physically fit by any stretch of the imagination.  I mean I have climbed to the top of the cupola of St. Peters Cathedral in Vatican City which is 540' up so I know I have the endurance when I want to. Would I be able to complete the cl!mb, or would I humiliate myself in public.  I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

The morning of the cl!mb.

The day started much like any other day.  I got up, got ready, and we left to head to Newport on the Levee.  My ticket had said to arrive 15 minutes before my reservation, so of course being the good punctual person that I am, I padded an additional 15 minutes onto that, and pulled into the Levee parking garage right around 11AM, the garage was running a special so the parking fee was only $2. I then headed towards their Base Camp.  The Base Camp is located on the street level of the Newport on the Levee complex, but it is not accessible from within the levee complex.  So I left the garage at street level, walked out the front door, around the Tropicana and started to walk down the side alley alongside the levee complex.  The Base Camp is marked by a sign that looks like a section of the Purple People Bridge is coming out of the side of the building.  I found it odd that while there was a United States flag and an Ohio flag on the marquee , the flag of Kentucky was noticeably absent, which is curious as Base Camp is in Kentucky, and most of the Ohio River in that area is Kentucky. It was at this point that that I arrived at base camp.(My Mom headed to find a good bench where she could watch the river go by, and have a prime view of the proceedings on the bridge)

Purple People Bridge Climb Base Camp - Exterior

I walked into Base Camp at about 11:10 and proceeded to the ticket counter/registration desk.  I was greeted warmly and, as I suspected, was told the 15 minute early request is to pad the arrival time so that the entire group is there ready to start at the scheduled time.  I was free to mill about Base Camp and was told that the experience would start exactly on time.  So I milled around the front room of Base Camp which is essentially a gift shop.  Colorful miniature world flags streamers ran the length of the room to provide an international cosmopolitan feel.  Alongside one wall was a giant mural of he bridge and on the walls were video monitors.  In the center of the room was a 4 panel video wall, with other smaller monitors spread about the room.  The monitors attempt to describe the bridge climb experience.  The one I thought was really clever is the one that looks like CNN, but when you look closer, all the stories are about the Bridge Climb.  Between the two sets of front doors sits a concession stand, in the back right corner of the room is the merchandise sales counter, in the back left is the ticket counter and the attraction entrance.  In the back center is the video wall, and an opening covered by a black curtain.  There are also certain convenience facilities located along the back wall.  This would also be a good time to make use of those convenience facilities because they will the last ones you will be able to use for some time. In their store windows, they have some promotional pictures of the climb as well as a framed carton that appeared in the local paper.  Its a cartoon that came our right around the time the attraction opened and features a drawing of the Bridge Cl!mb and shows a climb group making their way to the summit, to find a Starbucks and a climber from another group sitting outside at a table working on a laptop.  The climb guide is saying "Ok, get hipper than us!".  Here is a copy of that cartoon I took a photo of:

And here is a photo of the gift shop:

Gift shop inside Purple People Bridge Climb Base Camp

While I was waiting, Dave who appears to be the main person in charge of the attraction that day, does that make him the Cl!mbMaster?  Anyway , I was wearing a Xavier shirt, and some one else coming for the tour was in UC apparel.   That's good to kill a few seconds, and Dave is apparently also a Musketeer fan.  Before I knew it I was looking at 11:30 and it was time to enter the attraction.

"The Adventure Begins"

 The 11:30 group was already standing around the attraction entrance so Dave didn't need to call too loudly for us to assemble and meet in the first room.  As we entered the first room, tickets were collected and scanned to ensure authenticity.  I handed in my eTicket and was admitted to a small room.  On one side were a short set of bleachers (2 rows), on the other side was a plasma screen monitor and an audio visual cabinet.  A rolled up climb suit and hat sat atop the audio visual cabinet for decoration.  Once our group was assembled and seated, Dave indicated that he was going to show us an introductory video.  I note that our group contains the maximum complement of 12 eager Cl!mbers.

Pre-Cl!mb Briefing

The video starts with a montage of what most would consider to be true extreme sports, or extreme attractions, which as you may guess culminate in presenting the Bridge Cl!mb as the newest extreme attraction.  The video then tells the story about the Sydney Bridge Climb and gives a little introduction about the 'sport' of Bridge Climbing.  The video then gives a bit of history about the particular bridge you are climbing, how it was built in 1872 as a railroad bridge.  It goes on to give a little history about how in later years it was converted to allow vehicular traffic.  Later on in life, first the railroads stopped using the bridge, then the road was closed.  The bridge was even scheduled to be demolished as it was obsolete.  In an unusual move the bridge was purchased by a private concern who turned it into a pedestrian only bridge linking the Newport on the Levee complex to Cincinnati's riverfront parks. The latest chapter in the bridge's life happens to be the Bridge Cl!mb.  The video them attempts to put a Haunted Bridge spin on the show, by telling the story of poor Engine 49.  It left Ohio and turned onto the bridge headed to Kentucky, but as the tale goes the train never made it to Kentucky.  The bridge and the river were searched and no sign of the train was ever found, but sometimes late at night, you can still hear the train whistle blowing as the train is still trying to make it to Kentucky.  After the entertainment portion of the video is over , the real briefing starts.  A host comes on and describes the entire procedure you are about to go through, as well as details some of the health and physical restrictions.  Instead of describing this portion of the video, just keep reading and I will take you through what all happens. At the end of the video is a montage of the areas other fine attractions that you may enjoy after your Bridge Cl!mb, as well as details on other climb experiences you may have such as a night climb, or a themed party climb.  Cue the obligatory enthusiastic ending, "It's Over The Top!"  "It's Over the Top" is their slogan, and they use it as much as possible. Some of our group commented that the video itself was Over The Top.

Right as the video ends, a sliding purple door opens into the next room.  It's sort of like a theme park walk through attraction where you are led from room to room.  In the second room, there are two benches, one on each side.  Already sitting on the benches are clipboards with legal paperwork.   We were asked to take a seat and a clipboard.  We were then asked to read the legal paperwork, while we were reading it, Dave was going over the main points.

Purple People Bridge Climb Safety Sign

  

That warning sign is posted behind the ticket counter as well as on the wall of the second briefing room.  Dave pretty much read that sign to us verbatim.  The legal paperwork has three main sections.  The first section details the physical restrictions, health restrictions and physical requirements.  You are to read that and certify that you are physically fit to participate in the Bridge Cl!mb and don't have one of the preexisitng conditions indicated.  They also ask you to not participate if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  I thought I heard that a Breathalyzer would come into play here, but I suppose they are going more on a visual check.  The second part of the legal paperwork is the Waiver of Liability, this is the meat of the document, this is the part where you sign away all rights to sue and release the operators from any liability.  Basically participate at your own risk.. What kind of risk, you may ask?  Well that's the third part of the document, the "Assumption of Risk"  its a downright scary part to read and you are to read it and certify that you are fully aware of all the nasty things that might happen to you. Oh, and somewhere in there I think they threw in a "I agree to abide by all Bride Climb rules and directions", and that you won't try to defeat the safety systems. As you are finishing up reading and signing the "Very Scary Looking Legal Paperwork", your guide is inspecting your footwear to make sure it conforms to the requirements. For us, it was "I see your all wearing gym shoes, very good."

Satisfied that everybody has completed the legal requirements, is properly attired, and hasn't gotten scared away by the "self select out" safety presentations, the next purple door slides open and you are admitted to the clothes store.

Suiting up.

The clothes store is where you are issued your non safety gear related Bridge Cl!mb attire.  Each person is issued a one piece jumpsuit which is a garment that includes shirt and pants in the same garment.  Given today's weather they opted to issue us the short sleeve jumpsuits, they also had hats available should you want one. I also noted they have a digital scale in the clothes store area, and I was just as happy that I didn't have to step on it.  I mean I know I am well under the limit, but face it, no one likes to see their weight revealed in a public setting. Posted on the walls in the clothes store area are signs letting you know that all clothing is laundered after each use. Dave told us that the best way to judge a jumpsuit size is to start with your t-shirt size as a baseline, he also commented that they tend to run small. Given that advice I requested a XXL jumpsuit, and was then shown to a changing booth.  The changing booth is a bench between two partitions with a curtain in front for privacy.  Oh cute, the curtains are purple and yellow.  I guess you could not tell those were Bridge Cl!mb colors.

Okay, I am now in my changing booth.  I have no trouble getting the issued jumpsuit to fit, in fact it doesn't even feel tight. We were advised to remove our shoes to make it easier to get our feet through the pants legs, as the bottoms of the pants legs are elastic. The pants portion and most of the top portion of the suit is purple, with the top half of the top yellow with purple trim on the shoulders, ends of the sleeves and collar.  Of course it has a Purple People Bridge Cl!mb logo on it.  Now I know part of the purpose of the grey jumpsuits on the Sydney Harbor Bridge is so that you blend in with the bridge and don't distract passing motorists, here they have gone the complete opposite route and chosen a suit that will stand out from a mile away.  The purpose of the suit, well you can think of it as being part of a Bridge Cl!mb Team and that's your team uniform, they can draw the attention of potential future customers, they make you look like Purple People as you climb the Purple People Bridge, or there are the more practical reasons, for one they can't be assured you will be properly attired to be wearing the safety gear provided, by putting you in a jumpsuit of their choosing, they can be assured you will be properly attired, and the other reason they probably don't mention.  The jumpsuits do not have pockets, and once you have that zipped up, then the safety gear on over it, it will make it that much more difficult to get to any loose items you may have smuggled about your person in violation of the briefing you just attended.  Also in your changing booth is a sign promoting a Climber's Special in the gift shop, basically you get 25% off in the gift shop IF you buy your souvenirs the same day. They also issue you a plastic container for your loose articles. You are urged to put any and all loose articles into the plastic container, and are especially forbidden to bring cameras and the like.  I know, I can hear the groans, I am groaning with you.  The prohibition of personal photography equipment takes away half the reason to climb to a high point, such as the top of a bridge in the first place.

When you leave your changing booth, you can proceed to the locker room to wait.  The locker room is in the center of the changing area.  Each person is issued a locker, and told to store all their loose articles, stuff like keys, cell phones, cameras, camcorders, loose jewelry, and an other items you would be heartsick if you lost. If it falls into the river, you may never see it again, and if it lands on the bridge deck, it could seriously injure an innocent bystander, and the fall could damage the item.  Did I mention you are prohibited from taking loose items with you, it said so on the sign.  I went ahead and emptied out my pockets into the locker, and removed jewelry.  I see the photo reveals I forgot the watch but I don't consider that to be a loose article.  I do wear eyeglasses, so I requested and received the use of a eyeglass strap to secure the glasses.  I usually don't take my glasses on amusement rides, but considering the climbing, steep stairs, sharp dropoffs, and more importantly this grand view I am paying to see, I want the glasses with me on this go around. So I lock up everything in my locker, and take the key.  Their solution for the key is the the key is on a lanyard that goes around your neck, then you tuck the key inside your jumpsuit and zip up.  The collar of the jumpsuit is velcro, so the key is not going anywhere.  At this point Dave introduces us to Mark, who will be our C!mb Guide and instructor, he will take us through the rest of our experience. Mark takes over with our group and Dave departs.  

The doorway between the locker room and the harness store has been fitted with a metal detector.  I'm not saying they don't trust you but, short of a strip search they are trying to ensure you aren't smuggling anything on the Cl!mb with you.  It seems good cameras and camcorders will trigger a metal detector, and I suppose its also good for that occasional nutjob with a weapon. Before you are allowed to enter the harness storage area you have to successfully clear the metal detector.  One at a time we were screened, and told to wait in the next room.  Once everybody was inside the harness store, it was time to start issuing safety gear.

Along the walls of the harness store area are racks of full body safety harnesses. Mark passed one out to each person, and when he came to me he managed to very politely skip over me in order that he could get me one of the larger harnesses. Once all the harnesses were passed out, Mark led us through putting them on.  The harness can look intimidating at first, as it has several orange and black straps, as well as one giant metal loop. His advice was to put it on like a jacket, making sure the metal loop winds up on your back, and being careful not to twist any of the straps. Once that's done, you fasten the chest strap.  The two ends of the chest strap look to have metal ends that appear to be the same size and shape.  There is a trick to positioning one sideways in relation to the other and pushing it through.  It takes a little bit of force and effort to get it fastened, but once it is through the buckle untwists so that the two metal ends are sitting right next to each other and therefore isn't going to come loose on its own.  One you have it fastened you pull on the metal end you just pushed through to tighten he strap, then work the tail of the strap through the buckle and keeper. Next comes the leg straps, there are two straps, one for each leg.  They run from the back of the harness, through your crotch, and then fasten to buckles located near the front of your hips.  He cautioned to make sure we don't get the two straps crossed over or tangled with each other.  Now, most of the harnesses used the same style buckle as with the chest strap, however I suppose on "big boy" harnesses they use regular pin buckles, like on most belts. I suppose these hold up better against the heavier weight involved. I did notice the belt holes were reinforced with metal grommets.

It was at this time that he advised us that you probably don't want all the straps to be skin tight, yes you don't want any loose play in the straps, but you don't want to overtighten them either.  Overtightening, he warned can lead to the belts chaffing.against your skin. After everybody had the leg belts fastened, the final adjustments were to the two front side belts. The adjustable end is on top, so presumably as you tighten the front, it removes the slack in the back as well.  When you are done, the front looks like a giant "H" and the back looks like a giant "X", with the big metal hoop about where the two back straps cross. So we made the adjustments to tighten the front belts.  After people had finished adjusting their harnesses, he advised us to take a couple minutes to just walk around the room.  We are going to be in these harnesses for close to 2 hours , so you want a comfortable fit, and this will let you know if perhaps you did overtighten those leg loops.  After we thought they were comfortable, he had us line up at attention so that he could perform a final inspection to make sure they were all applied and adjusted properly.  A glance at the tag revealed the Titan brand name.

After the harnesses were adjusted, he took a box and walked behind the row of future Climbers, as he passes each of us he clipped a length of heavy duty strap known as a lanyard to that big hoop in the middle of our backs, then he handed us the other end of the lanyard. You know from earlier in this report, that I had did my Bridge Cl!mb homework and thought I knew what sort of high tech securement device they were going to use, I was satisfied when I looked down at the heavy round object in my hand, and the label says "Latchways".  I was right that the key component is the Latchways transfastener.  This device is much talked about in the press releases for the Bridge Cl!mb, and you get a pretty good introduction to them during the experience. After he had handed everybody their lanyard and transfastener, he introduced them to us.  He said that the transfastener will be our friend up on the bridge. He told the story about how they were invented.  In his story, it was invented for a nautical application, it seemed there was a company that was having men go overboard way to often for their liking, so they wanted a way to tie them down to the deck during choppy seas, but still have the freedom to go about their work without being bothered by the safety system, from there came the transfastener.   Put another way, he told us how in typical fall prevention systems, your lanyard ends in two caribeaners.  The beaners will keep you attached to the static line okay, but there is a problem.  Whenever it is necessary to change the direction of the static line, you need to have a junction to make sure the line stays its course, and if you have a particularly long straight section, its a good idea to put in a junction so the static line doesn't develop a sag.  With the traditional two caribeaner system, when you come to a junction, you have to manually move the two caribeaners over the junction one at a time.  If you follow the proper procedure you will remain attached to the static line by at least one caribeaner at all times.  The problem with that is there is room for error, either through laziness, forgetfulness, or machoness (and though not mentioned it would make it too easy to detach yourself from the static line if you wanted to).  The transfatener solves those issues, for its main claim to fame is that when it comes to a junction, or as Mark called it a gate, the transfastener is able to move right over the gate while staying fastened at all times. In fact it can't be removed just anywhere along the static line, which makes it ideal for moving groups of strangers where the only thing you really know about them is they were willing to buy a ticket. I looked at the transfastener, and as I mentioned it is basically round in shape, and look something like a fishing reel.  There is an orange cap on each face, but the interesting part is the guts.  Inside it is a a star shaped wheel that looks sort of like a cog wheel. My totally uneducated guess is that when you come to a gate, which is two metal hoops that loop around the static line, that the cogwheel turns,fastening the transfastener to the new stretch of static line, before it releases itself from the old stretch.   How it mechanically does that I have no clue. The other interesting piece is a pie wedge shaped metal piece that can be moved around the side of the unit. You may wonder why I am spending so much time on the safety gear, well, for one it interests me, and for another I have a keen interest in safety, particularly my own. Might as well include a photo of a transfastener in its natural environment from The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Hey, the press releases all made a big deal about those transfasteners, I am just following suit, particularly because the articles state they list for something like $1,200 each.  Now that we have been properly suited up and issued our safety gear, its time to move on to something really exciting.  No, not the bridge yet, before you can climb the bridge, you have to climb the mini bridge.

Hands On Training

We are taken into the Cl!mb Simulator. The key piece of furniture in the Cl!mb Simulator is a miniature bridge, the bridge deck on the mini bridge is about 5; off the ground, and the bridge is about 20' long and maybe 2' wide. The mini bridge is made of the same basic construction style as the climbway you will face on the real bridge, and is equipped with a static line.

Purple People Bridge Climb - Mock Climb

The above photo is not of my Cl!mb Group, but of another Cl!mb Group I saw later in the day. Mark walked up over to the foot of the 'bridge' and proceeded to demonstrate the safety system. The first step is getting connected to the static line, you can only do that at certain places.  The access points look like a split in the static line where it branches to form a rectangular box shaped section. He recommended holding the transfastener like you were hanging a christmas ornament, set it down onto the access point with the shuttle slid over to the right, then once it is seated slide the shuttle around to the left, and move the transfastener along the static line.  As soon as it leaves the access point it is locked to the static line until you reach another access point, and that won't be until the other end of the bridge.  I suspect that shuttle is the actual latching mechanism, and then when you slide away from the access point, the static line itself blocks the shuttle from moving back to the unlock position.

Purple People Bridge Climb - transfastener entry terminalTo the left you can see the particular part I am referring to, these are the only places where one can attach to or detach.  Mark proceeded to climb the stairs on the mini bridge far enough to reach the first gate and explained that a common beginner mistake is to be macho and try to use strength to get the transfastener across the gate.  He explained that all that will manage to do is make a louder clanging noise. Instead of strength, its accuracy and finness that are going to help you clear the gates. As long as it is aligned it will glide right through, sometimes without you even noticing it. If you are misaligned, then it will stop, all you need to do is reach down and hold the transfastener at the same angle as the gate, and slide it through.  Mark then came back down the bridge and disconnected from the static line. He then instructed us to attach to the static line and climb up to the bridge deck and wait for him.  He stood at the base of the stairs assisting people get attached properly.  It's one of those things that's probably so easy once you have done it a dozen or so times.  The first gate is located at the top of the stairs so he was also able to assist people there.  There were a few more gates along the flat surface on top of the deck to get you good practice. Once everybody is at the top of the mini bridge he asks everybody to turn to the side and face him.  He will give the next part of the training standing on the floor below looking up.  He then introduced us to the simulator by saying that this will be very similar to what we will experience out on the real bridge except that it isn't quite as high.  It doesn't show in the photograph but the floor of the area is painted with a river water effect, and the wall you are facing has a riverside scene on it. That way, what you see while on the simulator is sort of like what you will see on the real bridge.  He then said he had to add one more effect.  He flipped a switch and some high power fans came on to simulate a windy day. Nothing that would come close to knocking a person over, but enough that you get a feeling for what it might be like. Purple People Bridge Climb - Transfastener gate We then learned that we weren't quite fully outfitted yet. (Note the photo appearing on the right shows what the 'gates' look like the transfastener is able to easily travel across. )

Sitting on the mini bridge handrail in front of us were our radios.  We were first handed what look like normal portable two way radios that come secured in a belt holster.  We were told to fasten the radio to the hip strap of the harness, the holster having a stiff  strap that secures with two snaps.  After the radio itself was attached to the hip strap, the next part was the headpiece.  We were told the headpiece goes on like a crown with the microphone in front.   There is one adjustment strap on top that secures with velcro to ensure a good fit.  It was noted that what look like earpieces do not go over the ears, instead they go right behind the ears.  The headpiece is another part of the high tech gear.  I can hear John Hammond of Jurassic Park fame proudly saying ,"We spared no expense!"  The big deal here is that the headsets use bone conduction technology, which is a technology I totally don't understand, but the benefit of it is that you can easily hear both the radio and the real world at the same time. Sitting about 2 inches or so from our mouths were microphones. The last part of the radio gear involved a small round disc that we were told to clip to one of the front side straps of the harness.  The round disc had a button mounted on the front, in order to talk on the radio, you need to press in on the button while speaking. We were told to make sure the channel selector was set to Channel 5, and then Mark started talking into his microphone so that we could adjust the volume to a suitable level. Next it was time to make sure that everybody's radio was working, and that everybody knew how to use their radio. The easiest way to so that is to go down the line and introduce yourself to the group over the radio.  After the introductions, we did some small talk, again entirely using the radios so you get used to their function, and the quirk that seems to throw some people off, the fact that when you transmit, you don't hear your own voice through the headset. Mark asked about what the groupings were, and other small talk.  When he asked me what my group was and I said "Solo", he responded
"I always like the brave souls who go it alone"

From there we turned from small talk to some more serious matters.  He advised us to pick out who we want to be next to, because as we can see, you can't pass anybody or change the order once the climb begins.  He also mentioned some stuff about the static line, how it has huge springs that act like shock absorbers on each end.  He stressed that as we can see there is no way we can come detached from the bridge, and that the safety system is able to handle the load even if multiple people should fall at the same time, for some unknown reason, say a sudden tornado. We were told the simulator is like the real climbway so there are railings on both sides as well.  He told us that the reasons for the radios are plenty, for one its so that everybody can hear his narration, but this is to be an interactive tour.  There will be audience participation, and if we want to join in the discussion, to do so over the radio so that everybody in the group can hear you.  When you are all in a line a person who is away from you wouldn't be able to hear you.  Along with that interactivity, your Climb Guide is there to serve you, if you should have any questions, or if you need assistance don't hesitate to call him over the radio.  Also the buddy system is in effect here, if you should see someone else who is struggling, needs assistance, or has lost the nerve and needs encouragement, to let Mark know. He also said right out that if you see anybody misbehaving, like say climbing up on the hand rails, or trying to get out of their safety gear, or tampering with someone else's gear,  that Mark is just the push of a button away. Oh, and of course should anything unusual happen to listen to Mark who will issue further directions.

After this discussion, it was time to talk about descending.  The rules of the bridge are to always face the bridge steps, thus means facing forwards when going up, and backwards when going down, its just much safer and easier that way. On both the practice bridge and the real bridge, the static line will be to our right when facing forwards.  We were to then climb down off the practice bridge, so when you get to the other end, rotate to our left until you are facing backwards then climb down the stairs. When we got to the bottom of the practice bridge, Mark detached the transfastener for us, out of our sight, and handed it to us. We were then given a break to use the water fountain. In the gift shop, a man that at least has a striking resemblance to Dennis Spiegel (the man that owns this attraction) who wished us a good day and said it should be a great day for Cl!mbing.  So at this time we parade out of the briefing area and back into the gift shop.  After everybody had their water break, we parade through the gift shop and out the front door.  We then proceeded as a group up the alleyway to the bridge.  

Now it's time for our Feature Presentation: The actual Bridge Cl!mb

It's now time to scale this:

Purple People Bridge prior to Bridge Climb being installed

Okay, maybe not quite that extreme.  The image to the left shows the Purple People Bridge back before the Bridge Cl!mb climbway was installed. (Image to left courtesy Don Flint of ExtremePKI.com .)  The image below, which is one of my own ,shows the Purple People Bridge after the Bridge Cl!mb climbway was installed.

Purple People Bridge Climb - the first ascent

We approach the Purple People Bridge.  For those who are unfamiliar with the superstructure of this particular bridge, there are 5 spans with the structure coming all the way down to the bridge deck between each one.  The first four starting from the Kentucky side are roughly the same height, and the fifth and final span is much higher. I do wonder if the guardrails in front of that display case are detachable, otherwise I don't see any way to change that poster.  I also note that poster looks badly faded. We would start our Cl!mb from the Kentucky side and work our way towards Ohio.  The photo above is what you see as you are approaching the bridge, it happens to be just past the entrance gate.  The gate you see at the other end does not lead into the Cl!mb Area, instead it is part of the gates that close off access to the main pedestrian bridge during those times the bridge is off limits. For example, the night before the bridge closed at 5pm so that it could be rigged with explosives for the city's major fireworks show. They launch fireworks off of a couple of the city bridges, including the much raved about "waterfall" effect.  As I was watching shells go off all around and over the Purple Bridge the night before, I actually started worrying about what if the fireworks damage the climbway. Okay, I don't think they call it a climbway, but if you walk across the pedestrian walkway, you must climb across the climbway, right?

Before we enter the Climb Zone we pose for a group picture at the base of the bridge.  Mark claims this was a test photo to make sure he had enough memory and battery left to last the duration of the tour.  Cynical me thinks that this photo is to document who all began the bridge climb.  He commented that the firm that built the fence around the Climb Zone has been around for many years, and their primary product line is jail cells. So therefore this will help to secure the climbway against unauthorized climbers.  The gates in the fence are key open on both sides, and I notice they have added a padlock that wraps around the gate with a steel cable when the attraction is not in use. Mark opened the gate and commented that this is the last point of escape.  If you proceed beyond this point, you have reached what coaster fans call "The Point of No Return" and are committed to completing the climb.

We enter the caged area, and Mark closes and locks the gate behind us. It is interesting to note the stairs don't go all the way down to ground level, instead their is an approach ramp, then a flat area before you begin the climb. Mark assists everybody in attaching their transfasteners to the static line.  That's it the group order is set.  "There's no turning back now" We proceed up the ramp and wait on the flat part at the bottom of the stairs.  We are officially welcomed to the bridge and we take another group photo, this one with our arms spread wide. This photo is taken with Mark up several stairs.  Humorous group shot of everybody preparing to climb, or documenting the climb order, you decide.  You may remember that participants are prohibited from taking cameras, however they send one with your Climb Guide.  Mark lets us know that if we see anything we want a photo of, or see any pose we would like to make (say a particular building in back of you) to let Mark know, and he will be glad to take any and all photos you want.  

The First Span

Mark tells us to wait at the bottom, and he is going to climb to the top of the first span,  Once he is up, he radios for the first person in line to start climbing.  To make sure everybody was comfortable with the stairs we were told to make this climb one at a time. To put us in the mood, Mark turned on a  loudspeaker mounted just before the stairs, the speaker played the Mission Impossible theme. So we took our turns climbing up the stairs, mark had mentioned that there were 25 stairs in this flight. They were a little bit steeper than your average stairway but not too bad.  I found the best posture was to hold the handrail with one hand, and the lanyard with the other.  The reason for that is as was mentioned sometimes the transfastener doesn't smoothly cross the gate, and reaching down behind you to address the problem is awkward. When we reached the top we waited on a slanted area just beyond the stairs.  I noticed we passed Mark who was supervising the first climb.  It seems that Mark's safety gear is slightly different in that he IS able to detach from the static line when need be. After everybody was up we were congratulated on making the first climb, and he asked if anybody was out of breath yet.  We then started walking across he bridge, now for all the detail I remember about the experience itself, don't ask me to repeat the narration.   I can remember what was said about certain topics, just not the order.  As we started off we could see the cleaning crews and the last remnants of Riverfest.  We chatted briefly about who went downtown to watch the fireworks in person.  I recall the BB Riverboat "Belle of Cincinnati" was docked and Mark pointed out that is flying a black pirate flag (Jolly Roger).  This led Mark to tell us about a recent riverboat race between our boat and one from Louisville.  It seemed that the Belle Of Cincinnati won that race, but was disqualified because it had used too much electric power and not enough of the traditional steam power.  It seems the Belle of Cincinnati crew didn't take too kindly to being disqualified, so on the way back, they pulled up aside Louisville boat, boarded it and stole the trophy.  Some police boats met the Belle of Cincinnati further along the river.  Legally, if you come aboard someone elses ship and steal stuff, its Piracy, so now the Belle of Cincinnati flies its pirate flag with pride.

And look at that now its time to climb down several stairs.  Mark reminds us to turn around backwards.  At first I start to rotate right instead of left. Luckily common sense will soon alert you that this is wrong, so you can make corrective action, See if you rotate left you are always keeping your back to the static line, and therefore the lanyard doesn't loose any of its effective length.  If you rotate right it causes the lanyard to wrap around your body, needless to say to don't want anything wrapped around your legs going down stairs. Its nice that it should alert you that you goofed up, but the good news is its easily correctable. When we reach the bottom of the stairs, we notice our view to the left to be obstructed by a big grey metal sheet.  Mark comments that the bridge also carries a major electric line between Cincinnati and Newport.  When the climbway was installed, Duke Energy came along and installed these guards which will shield participants from getting anywhere near the dangerous power line.  Mark commented to not lick the metal panel.

Purple People Bridge Climb - between spans 1 and 2 - note guard over electric lines

The second span

We then climb right back up onto the second span.  Mark points out the Newport Aquarium, and how from the air it resembles a viking ship.  Mark also asks if anybody knows what is right next door to the Aquarium.  The answer is of course a seafood restaurant.  Mark pointed out the delicious irony, and combined a plug for the new Shark Touch pool with the quip, when a shark has been worn out from too much petting, it gets sent next door to be the shark special. He talked about the bridge we were on and how the color purple was chosen in a poll. We laughed about the Over The Top story about Engine 49, and Mark noted "We may have made that up, but who knows"   Mark also asks who here actually read the entire legal document?  Okay did you note the part where it says we aren't letting you out of those suits for three days.  You have to wear them to work or school as advertisement for us.  Along the way there are loudspeakers and occasionally a sound effect to go along with the narration.  For example, Mark pointed out Great American Ball Park, talks about how the riverfront side is pretty open by design so that those passing the city on boat can follow the game, and sometimes boats stay around near the stadium to enjoy the game.  Mark asked what happened here on September 11, 1985.  That of course was the date of Pete Rose's 4192 hit.  At that Mar cues up the radio call of that famous hit on the loudspeaker while we are looking at the ballpark. He also points out the bat and ball painted on the back of the scoreboard which are supposed to be the bat and ball used for that hit.  I may have noted that sometimes the transfasteners don't smoothly cross the gates and need a little coaxing.  I got an idea of the effectiveness of the harness as a fall arrest harness can become a forwards walk arrest harness. This happened to someone else later in the group who was walking a bit faster, and Mark quipped, "Now you know how the kiddies in the child harnesses feel".  We came to the end of the second span, again down a short flight of stairs.

The Third Span

We climb up to the top of the third span.  Here is where things start to get interesting.  Up to this point, the climbway has been a straight path, on this span you make a right turn and walk over to the other side of the bridge, then turn left and go forwards a bit on the other side, then turn left to return back to the other side, and finally a right to continue forth.  At this point of the tour, Mark stops to get everybody's small group picture in one of the turns.  This is where you can have just your couple or just your family in a shot.  Or just yourself in a shot as the case was with me.  Mark also points out the big yellow bridge to our left, its the bridge you crosses over if you use I-471.  HE asked us what the name of that bridge was, and like most people answered its the "Yellow Bridge", or the "Golden Arches" or the "Big Mac Bridge" or the "McDonald's Bridge" So the bridge is somewhat kind of shaped like the logo for a popular fast food chain. He then asks does anybody know the real name of the bridge.  Its the "Daniel Carter Beard Bridge", now for bonus point, who was he?  Well, he is best known for starting the Boy Scouts, right here in the Greater Cincinnati area. Here is a shot of the two bridge discussed so far, you can tell the span on the left is the third span because you can see where you cross over to the other side. High up on the hillside to the left is Mt. Adams and Immaculata Church.

Purple People Bridge Climb - second and third spans - Daniel Carter Beard bridge in background

Also while we were on top of the third arch, the loudspeaker played a spiritual, and this was the cue to plug the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the museum  nestled between Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball Park.We also looked at Serpentine Wall, which is a Cincinnati riverfront park, the shape of Serpentine Wall meant to resemble the shape of native american burial mounds. We also talked about the original name of Cincinnati, which was Losantivlle. I believe Mark has the story I have always been told that it is a contraction of French words that roughly translate to "City across from the mouth of the river", which refers to the Licking River. Which led to a bad pun about what to do you get if you follow the Licking River, you eventually come to a University, which one, well its Morehead. I believe this was one of those jokes that was custom tailored to the group.  Mark did say repeatedly that we were the most rambunctious group he had ever had, and some members of that group really need to get their heads out of the gutter. We also had a group member that proffered an alternate explanation for Losantiville. As for myself, I'm the quiet type that just likes to take it all in, and then be able to recall it later. Oh, and look at that we have reached the end of Span 3.  Time to go down some more stairs, for the express purpose of going up some more stairs. I am officially putting this down as my aerobic exercise for the day.

The fourth span

Purple People Bridge Climb - between spans 3 and 4

In the photo above you can see the fourth span of the bridge, with the higher fifth span sitting behind it. We climbed up to the fourth span.  Here is where we were introduced to the story of the Suspension Bridge.  The Robling Suspension Bridge.  We were told how it was the prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge, but we learned a lot more.  The story goes that the Suspension bridge we know today was not the first in the area.  There was one over the Licking River.  Unfortunately that bridge failed and had a nasty collapse. So when the Suspension Bridge was built, they had trouble getting people to trust it.  So they held a publicity stunt, they managed to get 120,000 people to walk across it the same day, how did they manage to do that, well the area has a strong German heritage, so what better than to set up a stand passing out free beer at the center of the bridge. Mark noted there would be no beer at the center of our bridge climb. He also noted that during some of our city's great floods, the Suspension bridge was the only passable bridge, all the others were washed out, and that was only because they piled sandbags on the Suspension Bridge, and at that you were just inches above the water level. We also talked about the year of the Great Blizzard, the year the Ohio River completely froze and people walked across it.  Our sound clip for this span as we were nearing Cincinnati was the theme song from WKRP In Cincinnati. Oh, and we also noted familiar names for the Suspension Bridge, such as the Singing Bridge because of the sound it makes when you drive over it, or the "Blue Bridge"  Are you noting a trend with our city and identifying bridges by color?  Mark also noted their was a poll in Cincinnati Magazine to name your top tourist attraction in the area.  It wasn't anything downtown that won the poll, Cincinnati voted Newport on the Levee (where the Bridge Climb Base Camp is), as the areas top tourist attraction. The irony being that the attraction isn't even in Cincinnati. Speaking if irony, I love irony, like how this is a photo intensive trip report for an attraction where picture taking is prohibited. It may be well known that I am a roller coaster enthusiast, and coaster enthusiasts love to get Point-Of-View or POV shots of rides.  No, I don't have one of these I took myself, but again thanks to The Atlanta Journal Constitution, here is a POV shot of this part of the Cl!mb.

And look at that we are already going down the stairs after Span 4.  Before we climb Span 5 its time for a regroup. Up to this point we had been climbing stairways that were raked at about a 50 degree angle, this next stairway is much tighter and raked at a 65 degree angle. Therefore he asked that we climb it one at a time for added safety. He also mentioned we may want to be very mindful of our shins.

The Fifth Span

Purple People Bridge Climb - starting the big climb up to the top

Okay, looking at that next stairway, I am more inclined to use the word 'ladder' As directed, we made the cl!mb up the fifth span slowly and carefully.  Remember, this isn't a race, there are no prizes for speed.  Someone asked if anybody has ever freaked out when they got to this point and wanted to turn around.  Mark reminded us that the transfastener system makes it impossible to pass, which means even if they wanted to they couldn't without inconveniencing every person behind them. We reach the top of the fifth span.

Welcome to the Summit of Mt. Purple People Bridge

A lot takes place on top of the fifth span, for one it is the highest point of the cl!mb, so more time is given for general sightseeing.  We talked about Mt. Adams and the system that is in place to artificially cut back the hills to create those impressive hillsides. He mention the Church of the Immaculata and their famous Good Friday tradition of praying the steps, some on their knees. We turned around and looked at another famous church, the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption.  He mentioned the fact it has one of the largest stained glass windows in the world. We talked about the Chiquita Building and how, at least Mark interprets the building to be in the shape of a banana, oh and the weather beacon on top. We talked about the Procter and Gamble Building, and Mark said to use our imagination for a popular local alternative name for it. We also talked about the Carew Tower, how its the highest building in the city, and is a great place to get panoramic views and photos. I want to say he compared it to the Empire State Building. We also talked about the Convergys Building and how it was being finished just in time for the Red's to sweep the World Series in 1990.  Mark quipped about how possibly using it as additional unofficial seating as you could look into Riverfront Stadium helped quicken the pace of construction. Mark also pointed the three big rock formations next to the Purple Bridge which are icebreaks to break up any ice before it can get to the Public Landing in Cincinnati.

Also atop the summit we staged several goofy group photos.  There was the Chorus Line Shot, there was the "Act as a referee as the Bengals have just scored a touchdown" shot, complete the Bengals fight song on the loudspeaker. Then there was the "Look at One Lytle Place and act like you are shocked and point at something"  Mark also quipped that we were the largest group he has ever taken up. Let me refresh your memory that we had 12, and their maximum group size is 12. He acted like he had trouble getting us all in the group photos, and acted like he was leaning back over the railing to get the photo.  He even commented as how he was risking a fall for us, the cold hearted yet humorous response from the group: "As long as you get the picture" Which led to a "Where is the love?" In this area there is an area where the people who built the Bridge Cl!mb decided to sign their names to the original bridge ironwork.  It is interesting because its way up in the air, no visible supports, and far enough where you can't hope to reach it from the climbway, just how did they sign that? Mark had also pointed out to us that if we ever wanted to see what spent fireworks casings look like, there are a few littered about the bridge structure.  He told the story about how he was taking one of the last groups across before they closed the bridge and the Cl!mb to prepare for the fireworks.  The Rossi crew was down below starting to set up, and they hollered up to him, "Make sure nobody is smoking up there, would you?"

Purple People Bridge Climb - Achievement Bell

Now we come to the part of the tour where they hope to instill a sense of achievement.  Here is the part where you can proudly proclaim to the World (okay, at least to the people walking below and the immediate area), proclaim that You Cl!mbed The Bridge.  How do you do that, by the time honored tradition of a Victory Bell, well they call it the Achievement Bell. Inscribed on the bell is the Purple People Bridge Cl!mb Logo and an inscription about it being the achievement bell.  The bell was cast by a local Cincinnati firm, the Verdin Bell Company. I have visions of the first season of Survivor where they had to bong the gong whenever they entered Tribal Council.

So, one at a time, you get the chance to step forward, ring the bell, then go around the next corner and wait for the rest of the group to have their turns.  You can tell a lot about a persons personality by the way they ring the bell.  The first person tried to extend their 3 seconds of fame by ringing the bell repeatedly.  There were a lot of double rings, some lets see how loud I can ring the bell (that was my choice, BTW)., some couples who rang the bell together, some who actually needed to be encouraged to ring the bell.  As you ring the bell, your guide takes your photo.  I admit it, I was a soft touch for the Achievement Bell photo.

Purple People Bridge Climb - Dave rings achivement bell

Yep, there is your chance to see the webmaster of Coasterville. I'm the one ringing the bell in that shot. Going back to the earlier safety gear discussion, you can pretty much see everything in that photo, the jumpsuit, the orange and black harness, the radio headset, look carefully under my right arm to see the yellow lanyard, and then the transfastener appears to right next to my right hand. You can also see the Newport skyline behind me.  

From the achievement bell we come to another signature part of the attraction, the glass bridge.  For a short span on top of the fifth span, which is 140' up in the air, the regular metalwork climbway goes away and is replaced by plexiglass. This is meant to be a real shocker for those who might be afraid of heights, and at the very least cause some to take pause.  Mark noted that the BridgeCl!mb did in fact suffer from damage due to the fireworks, it seems part of the plexiglass bridge is discolored from getting hit with a hot shell. Here is where some people like to lie down on the glass and act like they are flying.  Mark was happy to get photos of those so inclined. The idea is supposed to be that you can't see anything below you, and the glass bridge is built out over the river not over the bridge support structure. That effect would work if not for one safety precaution, the surface has several small ridges in an apparent anti-slip surface. This is clearly visible in this photo:

.

I gently rubbed my foot against the glass surface to confirm those were in fact ridges. We proceeded across the glass bridge, and Mark told us the story of a special effect they have already decided to discontinue.  Part of the glass bridge is designed with an optical illusion that makes the glass appear to be cracked.  The idea was to have a loudspeaker next to it play cracking glass noises as somebody walked over it.  They decided to tone down that gimmick. The broken glass effect would work better if it wasn't your guide who crossed over it first.  I'm sure it was a great idea but it just doesn't work well in reality.

After the glass bridge we return to metal climbway.  We note some speed boats racing below, and Mark tells the tale of how once there was a boat race going on below that just happened to be using the same radio frequency as his tour group. This led to some confusion on the parts of both the boat and the climb group, particularly when one was giving directions that would not have been good for the other to follow. We also note some slower moving pleasure boats, and we lean slightly over the rail to wave down, and the wave back up.  

We then walk along a section of the top span that is sloped downwards at a non-trivial angle. this leads to the end of the climbway, all that's left is the ladder back down to the bridge deck level.  

The final decent

Folks, when I get scared, I'll say I got scared. Right before the final descent was when I cringed for a few seconds. Here you are walking down a steep ramp, then you have a bout a foot of flat space, then its the sheer dropoff as you look at the top of the tallest single climb of the day, the ladder back down to the bridge deck.  As I suspect this is the most dangerous part, they stress you go down the final ladder one at a time. So when I was in the on-deck circle to be the next to go down, I peered down the ladder.  Bad move. What's that famous line?, "Don't Look Down!" The good news is I recovered by the time the person in front of me got to the bottom of the ladder, so I was able to smoothly descend the ladder. Mark had quipped, please NO sliding down the bannister, its just a wee bit too steep for that. I reached the bottom, where there is another flat surface and then the ramp down to street level.  As I passed Mark he unclipped the lanyard from my back and took the lanyard and transfastener.  I mention this to point out, that they a) don't let you see the lanyard being attached or removed from your back (and hey its in the small of your back, its difficult to manipulate familiar objects there, let alone strange ones), and b) don't let you see how to remove the transfastener from the static line.  I'll file that under ignorance is bliss, and they figure that if you don't know how, it may just add another layer of discouragement from acting up. We were then kept in the cage at the other end of the bridge until everybody was safely off the bridge.  Here is a photo looking back right after one finishes up.  (Taken well after my Cl!mb, the camera can fit through the bars of the cage to get the photo, even if I can't)

Purple People Bridge Climb - that long final ladder back down

We did manage to have one last good laugh at the expense of the two women at the front of the pack.  They indicated they REALLY needed to use the restroom, and Mark played it up for the group by saying they had to go ever since the mini bridge. Anyway they were hot to trot, and went running for the cage door, which of course was locked.   Mark too a page out of classic  comedy when he pretended to futz around being unable to locate the key, maybe we'll have to wait here for the group behind us to come down, and use their key. Of course he didn't make them wait long, and produced the key.  Besides, Mark quipped, you all still have laundry to do. He was even kind enough to relieve them of their radio equipment to lighten their load.  These would be the two who were running an Olympic Sprint across the bridge, in climb harnesses trying to desperately get back to Base Camp.

The rest of waited for Mark to lock up, then we parade back across the Purple People Bridge along the regular pedestrian walkway.  We did note a crew from Rossi's Famous Fireworks was on the main bridge deck cleaning up the remnants of their show. There was time for small talk, thank-yous and the like as we made our way back to Base Camp.

Debriefing or "Put your toys away"

Back at Base Camp, we were led back into the area that had the mini bridge to an area where the radio equipment is stored.  At this point we handed in the radio equipment.  We were then taking back to the harness storage area.   Along the way Mark pointed out the hampers where we can return all the clothing we were issued. Back in the harness area, Mark started to give harness removal instructions, but I think most folks could figure that out.  Really, once you release the chest strap and the two leg straps it can easily be slipped off.  We then took our harnessed over and hung them on the racks provided.

We were then readmitted to the locker room and changing area.  Most folks decided to just slip off the jumpsuit in the harness storage area.   A big warning, there are some chairs there, but there is a big foot locker that looks like it would make a great bench.  Don't get tempted, I saw someone almost take a spill who did. I slipped off the jumpsuit and returned to the locker room.  I unlocked my locker and refilled my pockets with everything I had left behind.  I then made to exit back through the climb simulation area, which means I got to verify that yes a cell phone will set off the metal detector.  I chucked the jumpsuit into the laundry hamper and followed the rest of the group who were making a fast paced walk to the restrooms.  

After that was taken care of, the group reconvened in front of the merchandise counter.  You are presented with your award, an official personalized Climber Certificate:

Purple People Bridge Climb - my Climber Certificate

You also receive a complimentary group photo and frame:

Purple People Bridge Climb - my group photo

Then you gather around the small video monitors of the merchandise booth, and a slideshow is shown of the photographs your guide took, there is a nominal fee (just above $5) for each photo you want a 4x6 print of. May I hearby suggest having an option where say for $20-$25 they will burn you a CD of all of your groups photos? I hear Disney World is trying that method.

I then milled around the gift shop some more, as I may have mentioned they have a more extensive gift shop than some theme parks,  I mean they have the usual shirts, hats, jackets, sweatshirts, shot glasses, coffee mugs, magnets, keychains, plush toys, and the more much much much more.  I opted to go with a mousepad, and a refrigerator magnet.

Back for More?

I then made my way out of Base Camp, where I proceeded to meet up with Mom and we then enjoyed a nice Newport Aquarium visit and dinner at Johnny Rockets together. After dinner I took another round trip on the regular bridge deck to get the photos you see above, as well as others of the local area. I then showed Mom what Base Camp is like, and she was able to watch a group on the climb simulator mini bridge. Of course, in walking through the gift shop, Mom and I looked around and I wound up with a Purple People Bridge Climb purple golf shirt with an  embroidered full color Purple People Bridge Climb logo. The shirt really does look sharp. I also snagged a couple postcards to send to friends.  I made my way to the checkout, and recognized and thanked Dave for the experience.  Dave said he thought he recognized me, but more importantly the cashier overheard the conversation and pushed the button on the register that rolls the prices down 25% to the Climber's Special rate.  How nice of them.

And so ends the tale of my first ever Bridge Climb (Cl!mb).  I know I enjoyed it. Thanks for reading!


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