A Japanese tourist has become the 37th person on record to die while climbing Uluru.
The 76-year-old man collapsed while trying to ascend the steepest part of the rock on Tuesday afternoon. He was taken to a nearby health clinic at Yulara but was declared dead by medical personnel, reports the Guardian.
“A helicopter had to be utilised to retrieve this person and take him back to Yulara clinic, but unfortunately he passed away,” Duty Superintendent Shaun Gill told the ABC.
“At this stage, we don’t believe it’s anything suspicious.”
The last person to die making the climb was a 54-year-old Victorian man in 2010 and another Japanese tourist before him in 2008.
Three men also got stuck on Uluru in 2016 after straying from the designated path, requiring a huge rescue effort.
Traditional owners, the Anangu people, have been vocal about their wishes for people not to climb Uluru since the 1980s not just because of its spiritual significance but also the physical dangers of the climb.
Signs were also erected in 1992 asking people to reconsider scaling the rock.
“Too many people have died while attempting to climb Uluru. Many others have been injured while climbing,” the national park board of management told Fairfax.
“We feel great sadness when a person dies or is hurt on our land.”
According to Fairfax, the number of tourists attempting the climb has begun to decline. 38 per cent of visitors to the park attempted it ten years ago, but the figure dropped to about 16 per cent in 2017.
The climb will officially be banned from 26 October 2019, a date that marks 34 years to the day since the original hand back to its traditional owners.
The decision was made after the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park board unanimously voted to close the climb.