Climb Uluru (Ayers Rock)?

Old Mar 31st, 2006, 09:44 AM
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Climb Uluru (Ayers Rock)?

This question may have been asked many times before, but I just did a search and didn't find any recent answers to this question.

I know that the Aboriginals try to discourage people from climbing Uluru. I understand that it is a sacred place for them.

My question is this: Exactly how much pressure is put on people not to climb? What is the atmosphere like if you do choose to climb? Is there an Aboriginal posted at the trailhead asking you not to climb?

I will be at Uluru for two days. It will probably be the only time in my life that I will be there.

Is the climb even worth the possible guilt of climbing?

Thanks in advance for any guidance.

Keith
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Old Mar 31st, 2006, 09:53 AM
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I climbed it back in 1992. We had to sign up for a tour, and we were bused out to the rock. They made us start at 7:00 a.m. to avoid the daytime heat. It was July and freezing at the top. My ears were numb. Climbing the rock took 45 minutes and they had a book at the top that we could sign are name on. Well, that was a few years ago. The rock is steep but there is good traction
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Old Mar 31st, 2006, 09:54 AM
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BTW, there isn't a lot to do in Uluru but swat flies and climb the rock.
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Old Mar 31st, 2006, 10:13 AM
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I am friends with an Australian family of Aboriginal descent and would not climb the rock.
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Old Mar 31st, 2006, 11:42 AM
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KEITH: by all means climb the rock! it is a great climb and a wonderful view. It is indeed sacred to the Aboriginals, but only mild "pressure" will be put on you not to climb. It is not considered "bad luck" to climb it either. If you do chose to climb you will not be alone! Hundreds of tourists, but only a few in their 50s & 60's can do it .I hope you are in good shape or in your 20's/30's, climb slow and deliberate, do not wander off the marked path, bring water, and a hat that will not blow off.

I respect the Aboriginal ownership of the land and wish them no disrespect, and I will be eternally grateful that they allowed me to climb Uluru a few years back; but without the Choice to climb the rock it just isn't worth the trip all the way to the center of Australia.

I don't think you will experience any guilt after you pay the fee to enter the Uluru- Kata Tjuta National Park; just hope for good weather.
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Old Mar 31st, 2006, 01:30 PM
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Kaith (and tampatramp), I'm not getting something here. You understand that Uluru has religious significance for the local people and that they don't like people walking on it. But if they don't lay undue "pressure" on you, you'll do it anyway in the full knowledge that you're giving offense to your hosts.

Would you march into a Buddhist temple in shorts and hiking boots because the monks hadn't pressured you not to? Would you walk up to the altar rail in an English cathedral to take a flash photo of the communicants because the vergers hadn't asked you not to?

If you wouldn't, you must have constructed some sort of cultural hierarchy in which the sensitivities of indigenous Australians are unimportant in the scheme of things. If this isn't racism I don't know what is.
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Old Mar 31st, 2006, 02:01 PM
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I am totally with Neil on this one. The Anangu owners are deeply disturbed by climbers desecrating their most sacred sites, but it does not appear to be in their nature to act on this by prohibiting climbing. I am also under the impression that this was part of the deal when the government agreed to return ownership of Uluru - that climbing would still be permitted.

There will be no undue pressure put on you to climb - just a sign asking you not to. Still, I would ask any prospective climber to reconsider their position. There are lots of things in this world that are just plain wrong to do, but nobody will stop you if you insist. Please go to the Uluru - Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre to learn a little bit more about this issue, and consider taking a guided walk around the base. There is an Anangu-guided walk, called the Mutijulu Walk, where your guide will describe in some detail the sacredness of specific locations.

I too would love to climb Uluru, but I gave up on that dream after learning a little more. I hope you do to. Instead, take a hike in Kata Tjuta, such as the spectacular Valley of the Winds trail. If you still want to do some climbing, consider driving over to Watarrka National Park, and climb King's Canyon. It is a great view, particularly at sunrise.
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Old Mar 31st, 2006, 02:28 PM
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The worst part is that the Anangu feel responsible for all the climbers who injure (or kill) themselves while climbing Uluru. One individual summed it up best for me - he said that it would be like allowing guests into your home, but most of the electrical wiring is uninsulated and exposed. Imagine how you would feel if one of your guests was electrocuted after you fully knew the risks the guest was taking in your home.
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Old Mar 31st, 2006, 02:43 PM
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I was at Uluru two years ago and people were climbing the rock and there was no one at the botom to discourage anyone from climbing. We decided not to climb. There is a chain part way up to give you support on the steepest part of the climb. The first 150 feet or so looked steep and nothing to hang on to, but can be climbed with care. It's a doable climb but you have to be careful. On the second day we went out to the rock and we hand a small thunder shower. Some people on the rock did not come down as soon as they saw the storm coming. The wind was strong and was driving the rain almost horisontally. One person with his child had to be rescued by a rescue team with ropes. He slipped and almost fell off the rock twice. It was an agonizing hour to watch the strugle to bring him down with the child. If you decide to climb watch the weather.
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Old Mar 31st, 2006, 04:07 PM
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Climbing the rock is NOT the only thing to do in the area. I actually prefer Kata Juta (The Olgas) and there is Kings Canyon etc. The Rock is spectacular from ground level and there is an excellent organised walk around the Rock. No-one will put pressure on you not to climb but it is a sacred place to the traditional owners and I would like you to consider respecting that. Cheers!
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Old Mar 31st, 2006, 04:34 PM
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We visited Uluru Sept 04, and didn't even consider climbing the rock due to the wishes of the Aborigine. Instead, we signed up through our hotel for a guided sunrise trip with a naturalist. She had a small van, only about 8 people. We were picked up before dawn, saw the sunrise on the rock, then she took us to many places around the base. She filled us in on lots of native lore as well as flora and fauna of the area, which we would not have been privy to had we gone out on our own. Felt we saw the rock and learned some nature, very important to us.
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Old Mar 31st, 2006, 04:43 PM
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Neil_Oz (& ALF), I'm not sure what you don't get, I understand the religious significance, yet they still don't prohibit climbing. I obey the signs, I remove my boots at Budist temples, remove or put on a hat at other temples and observe the signs regarding photos, even buying a camera "permit" when required. I did visit the Cultural Center when I was at Uluru - a great place to visit and learn.

It is my understanding that the Anangu owners can, and one day might, ban climbing. And until they do it will remain a place on my recommended places for friends to visit; and to climb it if they are physically able. I know the Aboriginal people realize that other cultures (mine in particular) find climbing structures culturally significant and is an important part of tourism. I think that they are smart enough to realize that without the option to climb , Uluru might not be a prime tourist destination.

As for the safety involved, there were no problems for the approximateley hundred tourists when I was there. Common sense is certainly important. And when guests come into my house with all my exposed wiring...wait a minute! I don't charge guests to come into my house.

So Keith, I say climb the rock; or as wally says: "there isn't a lot to do in Uluru but swat flies and climb the rock."

Culture aside, Uluru is after all just a rock, and existed long before the Anangu people (not Mr. Ayers) discovered it. And long, long before any humans existed.

And BTW Neil, I have fought racism all my life, even going to jail, so my guess is you Don't know what racism is. I think your comment is way out of line. But I mean no offense to you personally as you have been very helpful to me planning my trip later this month.
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Old Mar 31st, 2006, 04:49 PM
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My wife and I climbed Uluru in 1991. At that time, we were not even aware that the Anangu did not want people to climb. I cannot recall ever hearing about it. Knowing what I know now, I will respect their wishes and not climb (I will be back there this August for the first time in 15 years). The climb itself can be somewhat treacherous. Once you get to the top, you have to climb your way in and out of a series of crevices before you can get to the flat top where the signing book is. Coming down was so steep that we sat down and semi-slid our way down (we did a number on our jeans). It was an experience, but not one to be taken lightly just from the perspective of the climb itself. By the way, I am afraid of open heights and if you have anything like that, it can be scary at parts.
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Old Mar 31st, 2006, 06:04 PM
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tampatramp, I guess they were fightin' words, but short of being mealy-mouthed I could only call it the way I saw it. My point stands: I still can't see why doing something which as we all seem to agree causes offense, possibly even distress, because it's not actually banned, is morally OK. Still less because the custodians may be torn between an economic imperative and permitting something that violates their ancient and complex relation to the physical world. What are we saying here - "if it feels good, do it?"

Speaking for myself only, I don't feel much cultural significance in climbing over things, certainly not equal to the local people's preference for us to desist.

Having said all that, if you've been jailed for fighting racism my hat goes off to you.
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Old Mar 31st, 2006, 06:31 PM
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Just got back from Ayers Rock (Uluru ) 2 days ago.

Personally I would not climb the rock.

No pressure was put on me to climb or not to climb but just the fact that the Aborigine would prefer that you do not is good enough for me.

I would purchase a head net cost is about $6.50 because the flies will drive you crazy.

After you have seen the Rock , visited the Olga's.... took all your pictures...then there is no much else to do ...so move on to another place...we flew to Cairns to do the Great Barrier Reef.

Percy
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Old Apr 1st, 2006, 05:10 AM
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As a retired clinical psychologist, please allow me to weigh in on the guilt issue. The very fact that you have raised it here, suggests the possibility of conflicted feelings in the future. I would encourage you to tune into the rational side of your brain and "do the right thing". I am sure you can determine what course of action that would be.

Another issue that may be understated is the inherent danger of attempting the climb. When we were there last year, I believe we we told that 35+ people had died, over the years, trying to make the climb.
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Old Apr 1st, 2006, 01:10 PM
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Orlando_Vic, please be clear I never raised the guilt issue, nor have I nor any one I know who has climbed the rock, experienced any guilt. The rational side of my brain does indeed say to do the right thing and that is to climb the rock, visit and learn at the cultural center and support the Aboriginal "economic imperative" and encourage tourism.

The real issue that is understated, is to give credit to the Anangu who explained to me that they do not wish me or any othe climbers any ill will and that Uluru, while sacred and shouldn't be climbed, is not bad luck to climb. They were very nice and understanding.

As for the safety of climbing, all outdoor activities are dangerous. We were told 1 or 2 or a few people die each year climbing Uluru either because they deviate off the marked path (usually to catch their hat that blew off) or suffered a heart attack by not being in shape or trying to keep up with the younger climbers. It is not a dangerous climb in and of itself, and so I told my daughter (who is not in great shape, but young) to climb it, and she enjoyed it greatly. So I tell everyone it is a great climb, not to be missed-weather permitting.

What is dangerous, if you do live in Orlando, is to visit the beaches near Tampa. There have been at least 35 people killed crossing the street to or from the beach in the last 6 years I have lived in this tourist town.

I hope to climb Uluru again one day; but my trip later this month to Darwin takes me (with the special permission of the local people) to the Aboriginal Arnhem land. I am happy to spend my tourist dollars there as I was at Uluru.
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Old Apr 1st, 2006, 01:25 PM
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Orlando_Vic, thanks for giving us a professional perspective on the guilt issue. This puzzled me, as the poster seemed to be linking the likely severity of guilt to the public disapproval he fears. I may have misinterpreted him, of course, in which case I apologise, but whenever I've felt guilty about something, it hasn't seemed to matter whether my transgression was on public display (in which case embarrassment was the more likely emotion) or known only to me.
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Old Apr 1st, 2006, 09:57 PM
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It would not surprise me to learn that most climbers do not suffer any pangs of guilt. Those who might feel guilty are probably the ones who elect not to climb in the first place.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2006, 02:37 PM
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Against the public wishes of the Anangu, I climbed Uluru. I'm sorry but wild horses couldn't have kept me from doing it as long as it was legal and safe to do so. It is an awesome natural spectacle. I also did the walk around Uluru, part of it listening in on an Aboriginal guide. Wonderful.

I believe what the Anangu find most irritating is not climbing the rock itself but the attitude of many of the visitors that do so (and even some of those who don't): considering the rock as a trophy, a "been there done that", a photo op, a quick stopover on a busy itinerary.
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