If you can climb Mt Everest and in Yosemite, why not Uluru?


p2207-Rock-climb-2010LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – Here’s a story just published on the ABC about Yosemite National Park which lists as a key point “More than 10 people have died at this popular park this year.”
Meanwhile the ABC unblushingly published a few days ago “Uluru (climbing) ban helps Red Centre” – the impending ban on the Uluru climb supposedly due (at least in part) to Anangu concern about the numbers of deaths on The Rock.
How many people have died there (a) this year (b) since 2010 (c) since the turn of the century (d) in total over the years? Some answers are provided by this ABC story from early July this year.
Despite the toll at Yosemite National Park there seems not to be the slightest hint of any suggestion that the public will be banned from accessing what is clearly a very dangerous location, or from engaging in high risk activities that lead to so many casualties at that park.
Not to mention the risks entailed by park staff and rescue authorities in retrieving the bodies of people fallen to their deaths.
Much the same can be said of climbing Mt Everest, which has claimed the lives of almost 300 people – all but a dozen of them since 1960, spanning a similar time period that the climb has existed at Uluru.
The numbers of fatalities at Mt Everest has risen sharply in recent years – in total contrast to Uluru – and most people who die there remain on the mountain; it’s too difficult to retrieve the bodies.
Moreover, a significant number of deaths are of the native Sherpa people of Nepal yet there is no suggestion that attempts to climb Mt Everest, or other equally dangerous Himalayan peaks, are going to be prevented in future.
I’m not suggesting that the rules for climbing Uluru should be relaxed but clearly, in terms of safety, there’s simply no comparison of the danger encountered here compared to other popular climbing destination sites around the world.
The absurdity of what we’re told by Parks Australia and the board of management at Uluru is further emphasised by comparing the statistics of fatalities at The Rock with the Northern Territory’s annual road toll.
This year’s road toll to date is just shy of double for the whole of last year, of which more than half are Aboriginal casualties which also exceeds the total number of deaths on our roads last year.
The statistics for this year and last are just a continuum of little change of the carnage on our roads over the past decade (and, if so inclined, I can find even worse results in the years and decades prior to the data set currently available on the NT Government’s website).
On the strength of these figures, there’s no question: We must ban the use of private motor vehicles on public roads.
Well, that’s the logic in play for Uluru so it must be consistent to apply to situations far more dangerous than climbing The Rock, surely?
The simple reality is that, no matter how much the decision to ban the climb at Uluru is window-dressed on the grounds of “spirituality” or public safety, this decision is indefensible – a total nonsense.
Alex Nelson
Alice Springs


  1. The Aboriginal “pay” or “gate money” will cease or become neglitable.
    I once said this to one elder who is on the committee and receives his periodic income and he said: “Better let them climb!”
    It really is a white-fella decision to close the climb.
    The resort will go broke too, which is owned with Aboriginal money.
    This elder was adamant to keep it open as he and his family earn money that way.

  2. The ‘ABC’ acronym apparently stands for Apartheid Building Corporation, reflecting its long term support and promotion of racial separatism with inequality of opportunity.
    Most understand is hard to eat your cake and keep it.
    Not hearing of plans to close California’s Yosemite National Park, at least 10 deaths this year, two last Wednesday from a popular lookout being investigated.

  3. I agree Alex, also the other argument by Parks Australia was the fact that fewer and fewer people want to climb it. The fact is that the climb was closed for something like 80% during the time of their survey.

  4. If the owners / custodians of Uluru don’t want people climbing their rock, I guess that’s their call.
    But the beat-up is largely another example of identity politics at work.
    This pernicious movement is designed to divide, to alienate. It contributes nothing to unity, to finding common ground.

  5. I have never been able to work out exactly why The Rock should not be climbed.
    Is it a spiritual religious thing? Or is it simply because the custodians think it is a “respect” thing?
    If the latter, is it because the custodians feel offended or is Uluru considered a living entity that feels offended?
    I am fair dinkum when I ask this. Different people have different views. It is confusing.

  6. Former NT Surveyor Marc Hendrickx has been speaking nationally against the absurdity to closing the climb.
    As he points out there was never any cultural taboos about climbing it until the rangers bean telling the TOs that climbing it disrespecting their culture.
    Quite a lot of misinformation is clarified as well.


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