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 the Resort or elsewhere in the Park. In January we requested Parks Australia provide documents to support its various claims that “more than 30” , 35 , at least 35 , "36" or "39" deaths it claims have occurred on the rock in different departmental documents but they have not provided a response. The variability in numbers quoted by Parks Australia in different documents raises concerns about incident management at the Park.
Our list of 17 deaths ON the Rock below compiled from a number of sources. There have been 5 falls and 12 deaths attributed to heart related problems.
Regardless of the whether the number who have died on the Rock is 17 or 37, the proportion of deaths in comparison with the total number of climbers is very low. Much lower than for equivalent tourist experiences around the world (of which there are few), and is no reason to close the climb.
Only 5 people have died in the Park this century, 3 now on the Rock and 2 at the Olgas (2002 and 2008). The death rate since 2000 given approximately 6,000,000 visitors in total and 5 deaths is 0.3 deaths per annum, or 0.8 deaths per million visitors. In contrast there are about 12 deaths per annum at the Grand Canyon in the USA. Given 5 million people visit the Grand Canyon each year this would equate to about 2.4 deaths per million visitors, a rate 3 times higher than that at Ayers Rock.
The death rate for climbing sacred Mt Fuji in Japan, a much more arduous but more popular climb than Ayers Rock, is 15 deaths per million climbers (2005-2013 2.4 million climbers, 37 deaths).
Clearly the reported deaths at Ayers Rock fall into the lower range for adventure tourism activities and should not be a reason to ban the climb.