Yulara (Ayers Rock) - A tough climb.

Saturday, Aug 05, 2006 at 00:00

Mick O

Saturday 5th August,
Yulara N .T.

Well it’s late afternoon and we’re sitting in camp STUFFED. Our assault on the rock went well but I have decreed that this is the last time I will ever climb it! We both over estimated our abilities and underestimated the hardship of the climb. At least we got to the top and bought the tee-shirt.

Out of bed early and breakfast on the nearby gas burners. After pack-up and hanging out of load number 5 of washing, we headed straight for the climbing area. I thought it a bit strange that we couldn’t make out any figures climbing the rock as we approached and on arrival we found the climb closed due top strong winds at the summit. Damn! Well we hung round for a few minutes and read some of the literature while planning our next move when the ranger removed the signs and it was like the starters gun of the city to surf marathon. Bang! 200 people or more raced to the start and began shouldering each other out of the way as they made for the start of the chains some 75 metres up the incline. I might add that most were predominantly Asian tourists. We saw our neighbours in the camp ground, Ron and Dianna (of Echuca/Moama) heading off among the throng but we nonchalantly moved to the base and commenced the climb. It only took several minutes of the calves to start burning and several more before we were both heaving for breath and stepping over the bodies of the fallen. All this and we were still only a couple of hundred meters into the climb. Once on the chains, the traffic thickened and you were torn between the need to look down for footing and up to ensure you didn’t jam your head up the butt of the person in front of you.

Johnno soon got a bit of pace up and I rested a tad more frequently. Struck up a conversation with a bloke we’d seen walking at Kata Juta the day before so that made things a bit easier. You didn’t feel the pain as much when the brain is occupied with speaking bleep . Had a water break at the end of the chains and then pushed on towards the summit across the flatter areas. It wasn’t long before we came across Dianna sitting and refusing to budge any further. We assisted Ron in coaxing her through to the top. Not that I can blame her as even JT and I were balked by some of the passes (not really).

The most interesting aspect was that although we’d started well back in the pack, only three people had passed us returning from the summit. Most of the throng had only gone partially to the top before heading back down. As a result we were the only ones at the cairn for quite a few minutes and even then we were only joined by ones and twos and most were skips. Naturally the obligatory photos were taken and a few texted away before we began the decent. If you thought getting Dianna up was hard, what about getting her down. Small steps and keeping her thinking or laughing at my limited supply of jokes did the trick though and we all made it down by 1:00 pm. A well deserved cuppa in the car park and then a loop of the rock. We couldn’t be bothered walking anywhere else so off we went for a drive round the rock.

Headed back to the Yulara complex and picked up a few items at the supermarket before returning to the campsite and relaxing in the sun, a leisurely afternoon. Had a few drinks with Ron and Dianna and will be doing the BBQ thing for dinner. We have full intentions of burning the rest of our timber tonight in a mighty blaze
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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