At the expense of igniting lefty outrage I’m going to admit to having climbed Uluru. Now while I’m not an athlete, I am in fairly good shape (almost round) for a man my age, and not that far off the wrong side of 50. I came prepared; hat, water, hiking boots. It was very hard – the first section has no support and is quite steep. It more or less serves as a barrier to entry, those people attempting the climb and who struggle on the section before the chain should give up. The climb is not for you. It gets harder after that point. Coming down is murder.
So today we have the news that a Japanese tourist has died climbing Uluru.
Northern Territory Police say the man, 76, was attempting to ascend one of the steepest parts of the climb when he collapsed and lost consciousness about 4:00pm yesterday.
Park rangers were the first on scene and performed CPR until SES crews arrived. The man was flown to the health clinic at nearby Yulara, but could not be revived.
Unfortunate to be sure. What was a 76 year old man doing climbing Uluru? Yes, I know; don’t blame the victim.
To my mind the problem is this: at Uluru they have signs discouraging a climb on cultural and religious grounds. They also have conditions under which the rock is closed for climbing – mostly associated with weather events. I’m open to correction but I don’t recall seeing signs that warned of health related reasons not to climb the rock. My impression is that there are more warnings at an amusement park than at Uluru. Certainly there wasn’t anybody around to provide warnings or enforce any warnings. Mind you, the tour guide should have provided detailed information and warnings about climbing the rock.
Of course, the counter-argument could be that cultural and religious grounds should be enough to deter would-be climbers. Clearly that isn’t the case.
On the topic of climbing Uluru – here is a story about the government and/or its agencies lying to us. Again.
Update: Photos from the rock.