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Uluru should be open for all to share the experience

My comment piece in The Australian today...

Uluru should be open for all to share the experience
The board of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park has announced it will close the climb up Ayers Rock in October 2019. This may be the death of the national park as if you haven’t climbed it, you haven’t ­really visited it; and if you can’t climb it, I don’t believe it is worth going.
Phillip Adams wrote in The Weekend Australian Magazine that white Australians liked “clambering over it, seeming to confuse this sacred site with a Gold Coast-style theme park”, and welcomed the climb’s closure.
But there are many reasons the climb might be kept open. It is an exhilarating, extremely satisfying physical and mental ­experience. I have climbed the rock twice, the first time in the company of the science director of the Mars Pathfinder mission, ­enjoying the camaraderie, exertion, spiritual and mental exhilaration, and the spectacular views from the summit. The climb leaves you with a sense of connection to this unique natural wonder. I want to share this experience again with my family and friends.

Read the rest via the link. Subscription required, but worth it! (I'll post a longer version soon.).

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Climber's Handbook: A guide to climbing Ayers Rock.

Coming soon... Climber's Handbook: A guide to climbing Ayers Rock. Everything you wanted to know about climbing the rock at the heart of Australia but were too afraid to ask...

Indicative Contents History of discovery and climbing Facts and figures Geology and Geomorphology Route Maps Reasons to climb Climbing stories Chronicles of the fallen  Preparations Best time to climb What to wear How to climb What you can see from the summit Things to do at the summit Climbing Trivia Selected climbs and hikes in central Australia
Hoping to hit the internet book shelves in time for Christmas 2018.  In the meantime wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  I just want one thing in my Christmas stocking: a ban of the ban!



17th death on the Rock

17th death on the Rock
ABC report that a 76 year old Japanese man collapsed on the steep part of the climb and despite first aid, was not able to be revived. The elderly Japanese man likely died as a result of heart complications, probably brought on by existing (perhaps unknown) medical conditions and over exerting himself. He appears to have died revelling in the opportunity life provides. RIP Brother of the Rock.  Our thoughts with his family and the first attenders who did their best to treat him. It's sad, but life goes on, and so should the climb.

His death marks the 17th death ON the Rock since 26 May 1962 when 16 year old school boy Brian Strieff, on a school excursion with Carey Grammar, wondered off the main path in heavy fog on the way down and fell to his death.

ABC's report indicate it is the 37th death, but these figures from Parks Australia have not been substantiated. It seems that many of the deaths Parks Australia claim to have occurred ON the Rock occurred in…

A pictorial response to arguments against climbing Ayers Rock

A pictorial response to arguments against climbing Ayers RockIt's too dangerous Group of women aged 19-70 climb Ayers Rock as part of the 1957 Petticoat Safari. This was prior to the chains being installed. Since the 1950s over 6,000,000 people of all ages have climbed the rock. In that time there have been a reported 36 deaths mainly heart attacks to older men, not acclimatised to the heat of central Australia. If you are fit and healthy and stick to the marked path climbing Ayers Rock is an exhilarating adventure but a decidedly low risk activity.

Here's Arthur Groom's take on the climbing options: extract from I saw a strange land
Various writers have described Ayers Rock as difficult of ascent, when in reality it is a trained mountaineer's job on the east-south-east corner, a rough and steep scramble up at least two places on its southern side, and nothing else but a strenuous and spectacular uphill walk on its western side It’s a Sacred Site, climbing is disrespect…