Is Australia’s Ayers Rock closing to climbers?

One of Australia’s most famous landmarks, Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, may soon be closed to climbers if a proposed plan by the country’s national parks service is adopted. The plan points to a variety of reasons as to why climbing should be banned on the sandstone monolith, including cultural issues, safety, and environmental concerns.

Uluru, which stands 1,135 feet in height and more than six miles in circumference, is considered sacred ground by the aboriginal tribes that inhabit the area, and they have long opposed climbing its walls. The park system says that 30 people have died while climbing the Rock over the years and that the climbing routes cause increased erosion which has a direct impact on the plant and animal life in the region, which happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

If adopted, the plan would be phased in over a ten year period to give the tourism industry a chance to develop alternative activities for visitors. The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which surrounds Ayers Rock, draws roughly 350,000 visitors each year, and according to the park system, about 38% of which come to climb. A group that represents a considerable amount of revenue for the park and surrounding communities.

The plan is now open for public comment over the next two months before it is passed on to the Parliament for consideration. Not everyone is in favor of the proposed changes however, as the Ministry for Tourism in the Northern Territory, the state in which the park falls, has gone on record as saying that they would like to see climbing continue to be allowed in some form.

While it looks like climbing will be allowed to continue for the foreseeable future, if “Climbing Ayers Rock” is on your life list, you may want to plan a trip to Australia soon.