Tuesday, February 23, 2010

After our quick visit to Alice Springs, we hit the road again and made our way to Kings Canyon. We stayed at a resort 40km's from the Canyon, and spend our first night 'tenting'. The next 4 days where full on with hiking. A 7.7km hike through the canyon, a 10km base walk atUluru, a 7km hike at the olga's, and an unknown hike up to the summit ofUluru, which is what this post is mainly about.

You see, Rob came to Australia to climb the rock, it has been his dream and as this was his third time to Australia and yet to see the rock, he was pretty pumped. I, on the other hand, was not all that keen on climbing.

Ayers Rock is located in a National Park and the aboriginals find the rock a very sacred place. The aboriginals have been in Australia for years, and I mean YEARS. Their rock art is traced back to 40 000 years ago!!! When the 'white people' invaded their territory, it was not done in a nice way. Children where taken away from their families and they where basically shunned. Theindigenous people have taken this very hard and it has taken many years from them to accept what has happened and cooperate with the Australians and the 'western' way of doing things. From my understanding the Australians have pretty much taken over most of the land, however over time, there has become an agreement and on the council of the national parks there has to be at least 3 aboriginals (all of this i have heard third hand, so it may not be exact). Anyways, Ayers rock is a huge for tourism and it was agreed that the rock would be open for climbing as long as the aboriginals agreed it was ok.

As I said earlier, the rock is very sacred, there are sections that only the women can go to, and vise versa for the men. There are sections that you cannot take pictures of for this reason, and as for climbing it, it is climbed by the indigenous for spiritualreasons. There are signs everywhere that ask you not to climb it, but yet on certain days it is allowed.

I am a bit controversial on this, but it goes back to the agreement of the white people and aboriginals. I kind of think of it as any other religion or countries belief, for example, I wouldn't walk into a temple with a tank top and shorts on when they ask you to wear a sarong and sleeved shirt.

Anyways, the first day we where here, we got up early in the morning to watch the sunrise, and when we drove to the site where you can climb it, alas, it was closed due to winds - granted, it was quite windy that morning. That day we heard from agerman guy that his girlfriend was here earlier in the year and it was closed each day; and we heard from the girl at our reception that out of the past 2 months, the climb had been open only 4 days. I was glad to hear this as I wasn't that keen on climbing (plus I didn't think I was actually going to make it!!) but Rob was very disappointed. The next day we got up early, and drove to the rock, it was open for climbing between 7 and 8, and as we where driving up to the rock just after 7, i could see in the distance little black dots - yup, it was open for climbing. Dammit!!!!!! Now, I know I could have let Rob do it alone, but, he did want me to do the climb with him, and I wasn't all that keen on waiting at the bottom, in the fly infested and very hot day! So, I laced up my shoes and off we where. Within 30 meters it was getting steep, there was no easing your way into this walk! There was a chain for the first half of the climb as it was the steepest, and boy did we need it. Not only for the wind for most of it, but also for a couple VERY steep parts, and if you slipped, there was nothing to stop you. I believe 32 people have died trying to climb it. In fact, just as we started to climb we looked up and a water bottle crashing down the side of the rock! I had my camera in my hand at that time and I decided that maybe it was best if I kept it in the back pack! We had to stop a few times on the way up for a bit of a break, as well as a water break! After the first difficult steep part, the rest of the way was pretty easy, I only needed a bit of a push from Rob a couple of times! The view was very stunning from the top and it really gives you an idea of how big the rock really is! The summit is 865m from sea level, and it took us just over an hour to get to the top. The way down was almost just as bad! I have also developed a bit of a 'bad' knee you can say, but I didn't feel it that much, granted, I also took a motrin before the climb. Going down the steep part was a bit scary! You could see how high up you where of and of course it was windy. Once it got to be really steep, I turned around and went backwards. That took a bit getting used to and it was even more freaky looking up thinking, did I actually just climb that!! We saw one couple where the guy had a little kid on his back - I could barely carry myself up let alone a 30kg kid!!!

Am I glad I climbed it, yes and no. It was a spectacular view from the top, and physically challenging which I am always up for, but I feel that if the aboriginals are that against people climbing it, then maybe they need to push for their rights a bit more and close it forever. Who knows, maybe they don't really care and just say that so they don't have thousands of people on the rock daily............

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