A huge line of people stood and waited for their turn to climb up Australia’s Uluru on Friday. Formerly known as Ayers Rock, the peak will be permanently off limits to visitors as of Oct. 26.
Uluru is sacred to its indigenous custodians, the Anangu people, who have long asked tourists not to climb it. Over the past few months, photos of people in lines on Uluru have drawn comparisons to the crowds on Mount Everest this spring when a number of climbers died.
The board of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park voted unanimously to end climbing back in 2017. Dozens of people have died on Uluru due to accidents and dehydration over the past few decades. Temperatures in the area can also reach 47C in the summer. Last year, a Japanese climber died attempting a steep section.
For years, signs at the base have read “This is our home” and “Please don’t climb. More than 370,000 people visited in 2018, a gain of over 20 per cent from the previous year. An increase in flights to the remote area has been a contributor.
Micha Gela, who works at the Outback Pioneer Hotel in the Ayers Rock Resort, said “I’m Indigenous myself, I don’t really approve of climbing. But obviously it’s a dream for them.”
Oliver Gordon posted a timelapse on Twitter showing the long line at Uluru this week.
One day out from Uluru climb closure, this is the line at 7am. pic.twitter.com/fxs344H6fV
— Oliver Gordon (@olgordon) October 23, 2019