Hundreds of people are expected to scramble up Australia’s Uluru on Friday before a ban on the climb takes effect from Saturday.
The giant block of stone is sacred to the Anangu people, and often call themselves indigenous custodians of the rock.
Only 16% of visitors went up in 2017, but in recent weeks the rock is packed. Photos circulating of people in lines snaking up Uluru have even drawn comparisons to recent scenes on Mount Everest.
One day out from Uluru climb closure, this is the line at 7am. pic.twitter.com/fxs344H6fV
— Oliver Gordon (@olgordon) October 23, 2019
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.
There are several signs at the base of Uluru that urge tourists not to climb, but some said they would “do it anyway”.
Locals said that tourists had been dumping waste and camping illegally nearby.
Since the 1950s, dozens of people have died on Uluru due to accidents, dehydration and other heat-related events. In 2018, a Japanese tourist died while attempting to ascend one of the steepest parts of the rock.
Uluru is 348m (1,142ft) high, and the climb is steep and can be slippery. Temperatures in the area can also reach 47C (116F) in the summer.