For many people, myself included the main reason for heading out to Ayres Rock is to go and climb it! This is in part how it’s been advertised to tourists and one of the main reasons to visit the area. The history and the cultural significance of Uluru is probably a secondary reason for visiting.
The climb is about 1.6 km long and it is very treacherous. For the first thirty metres there’s nothing to hold onto and you need to scramble up the rock face until you come to the chain that you use to pull yourself along. One thing to note about the chain is that it’s very low down, that’s why when you see people walking up, and they’re crouched over. This is not an easy climb and there have been over thirty five deaths over the years, which the local Aboriginal people are horrified about.
As a tourist you’re only told that the climb was not encouraged while you’re on the tour. I was on the walk around the base when the guide talked you through the pros and cons and then gave you the option to climb it or not. If you did decide to climb then you would forfeit the rest of the walk around the base as there would not be enough time to complete it.
At the bottom of the climb there’s a big white board with a message from the Aboriginals owners asking people not to climb it.
For the Aboriginal People Ayres rock is a very significant place and is regarded as sacred. The climbing route which is used is a sacred path of spiritual significance that is only taken by a few Aboriginal men on special occasions.
One of the reasons the Uluru climb remains open for tourists was a condition that the Aboriginal owners received when the title to the lands was returned back to them in 1985. The climb will remain open until the number of tourists who climb it each year drops to below 20% at the moment its about 26% of visitors who climb it.
Once I learnt about the history and the cultural significance of Ayres Rock and that the Aboriginal owners prefer you not to climb and ask you not to climb. I made the informed decision not to climb.
I personally think it shows a lack of respect to the Aboriginal people and there way of life if you do decide to climb. However, it’s not up to me to tell you what you can and can’t do. It’s up to you to make an informed decision.
On a side note, I was pleased that from our group of about twenty people no one decided to climb. I think it’s now starting to become more and more taboo as tourists get educated about the cultural significance of Uluru.