More than four million climbers have tackled the Sydney’s Harbour Bridge under the watchful eye of BridgeClimb Sydney, but after 20 years – and a few worried hours over the climb’s future this morning – a new company will take hold of the carabiner.

NSW’s Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) has announced BridgeClimb Sydney failed to secure a new contract to operate the bridge-climb experience and will cease doing so from September 20 this year. Tour company Hammons Holdings will take over from October 1.

“’It has been a privilege for us to make a hero of the bridge, and of every climber on every climb. We will continue to create unforgettable memories until our final climber,” BridgeClimb Sydney chairman and founder Paul Cave said in an official statement.

“Our team have worked tirelessly to deliver the ultimate experience. Every one of our past and present team can hold their heads high on what we have created together. The team and our customers are our immediate priority.”

The company has escorted millions of tourists from more than 140 safely over the Sydney icon since launching on October 1, 1998. The bridge’s new overseers, Hammons Holdings, are operators of Scenic World in the Blue Mountains – a popular privately owned tourist attraction.

“Hammons Holdings outlined a strong and clear vision for developing new climb routes, improving accessibility and introducing new techniques for a more interactive and innovative visitor experience,” a Hammons Holdings spokesperson said in an official statement.

“This was a highly competitive process with 12 expressions of interest received from Australian and international tenderers of the highest quality.”

Customers with bookings on or before September 30 will still be able to complete their climbs, and those with bookings beyond September 30 will do so under the guidance of the new operators. RMS is working with BridgeClimb and Hammons Holdings to ensure a smooth handover.

Broadsheet contacted BridgeClimb Sydney but they declined to comment. Hammons Holdings was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.