Just gonna haveta find another rock to climb!
Huge crowds scrambled up Australia’s Uluru for the final time on Friday, ahead of a ban on climbing the sacred rock.
The giant monolith – once better known to visitors as Ayers Rock – will be permanently off limits from Saturday.
Uluru is sacred to its indigenous custodians, the Anangu people, who have long implored tourists not to climb.
Only 16% of visitors went up in 2017 – when the ban was announced – but the climb has been packed in recent weeks.
The final climbers faced a delayed start due to dangerously strong winds – one of many reasons Uluru has been closed to people wishing to reach the top over the years.
The walk can be hazardous, with dozens dying since the 1950s. The high temperatures in the area, which can reach 47C (116F) in the summer, mean visitors have died of dehydration and other heat-related events.
But the steep and slippery climb to the summit – which stands 348m (1,142ft) high – can also prove dangerous. Just last year, a Japanese tourist died while attempting to ascend one of the steepest parts of the rock.
Yet after park officials deemed the climb safe to open, hundreds of people made the trek up on Friday.
Why is the climb being closed?
In 2017, the board of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park voted unanimously to end the climb because of the spiritual significance of the site, as well as for safety and environmental reasons.
One Anangu man told the BBC that Uluru was a “very sacred place, [it’s] like our church”.
“People right around the world… they just come and climb it. They’ve got no respect,” said Rameth Thomas.