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Uluru Death Sparks Calls to end Rock climb

April 27, 2010
The death of a tourist at Uluru is expected to accelerate moves to end climbing on the Rock.
On Saturday a 54-year-old Victorian collapsed and died near the base on his way down the 340 metre-high Rock. He had just told friends he felt ill, the Northern Territory News reports.
The man was the first climber to die at Uluru since 2000 and the 36th to die since 1958.
Parks Australia closed the climb for the rest of the day on Saturday âout of respect�? for the man and again on Sunday âbecause of high winds�?.
Traditional owners and Parks Australia have sought to have the climb closed in a few years while tourism operators fear this will harm business.
Having last year said that Uluru will remain open unless the number of people climbing the rock drops below 20%, the climb is no longer the main reason people visit or new experiences are offered as alternatives, Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett is now studying a new national park management plan that contains a recommendation to close the Rock.
The weekend death is now providing ammunition for those backing that recommendation.
The Rock climb is often off limits because of heat, rain, wind or indigenous ceremonies. It was open for only 55 whole days last year and 36 in 2008. However, Parks Australia has denied accusations by the tourism industry that it is closing the climb by stealth.
Minister Garrett said the eventual permanent closure would end the âdaily uncertainty�? about its availability, stating âwe know from public feedback that many in the tourism industry find it difficult to organise their tours when the climb may need to be closed.�?
More than 150 of the 172 comments received about the new park management plan related to the climb - 78 supported closure and 75 were against.

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