Suppose I'm in Australia. Can I climb Uluru? Do I need any special permits or gear? And how long do I have to walk to the top?
EDIT: As of October 26, 2019, it is no longer permitted to climb.
(The final weeks before the ban have caused an embarrassing level of climbers to 'beat the ban')
Yes it's possible. The question is - should you?
To climb or not to climb
Uluru is sacred to the Anangu people of the area. They say that the climb follows the track that the ancestoral Mala men took to get to the top for ceremony. They say that when you climb, you are on their tracks.
In addition, there are some safety and environmental concerns - at least 35 people have died whilst climbing Uluru - albeit most accidents occur when leaving the marked trail. There are no toilet facilities on the track or on top of Uluru. As a result, bacterial levels in the waterholes at the base of the rock are significantly higher then those further away from the rock.
The climb is also closed for various reasons; From 8am in Summer months (December, January and February), Heat (if temperature reaches 36 degrees), Rain (greater then 20% chance of rain/5% chance of thunderstorms in 3 hours), Wind (Speed at summit reaches 25 knots), Wet (if 20% of surface is wet after rain), Cloud (if there is cloud below the summit), Rescue (if there is a rescue from the rock), or Culture (if the traditional owners request closure, for example during mourning periods).
The decision to climb when it is open is yours - but make sure you are properly informed before you decide. Visit the Cultural Centre first to learn more about the park and what makes Uluru so significant.
Around the mountain you have a few options:
As of October 26th 2019, it will not be possible to climb Uluru:
In line with the agreed process in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Management Plan 2010-2020 and the wishes of traditional owners, the climb to the top of Uluru will close on 26 October 2019.
As Mark's answer says it is currently permitted to climb Uluru when it's not closed for safety reasons etc.
But it does come up in the news from time to time that it might be closed completely!
So yes it's open for now, but there is a real possibility that it might not always be.
Remember though, if it is ever closed down completely, it will be out of respect for the site's original owners. The reason that it is currently open to climb is from the original owners' respect for visitors.
Please don't do this. Uluru is sacred to the Pitjantjatjara Anangu. You wouldn't like if if some foreigner came to your country and started climbing up your sacred monument.
Since there seems no other way to comment on the deletion of my answer:
I did read Craig's (very recent) answer but didn't think it came over as a definite "don't do it" kind of advice, nor do I think answers should seem to endorse "you can get away with it, if you hurry up".
So, yes, this is an answer. And I think my indignation at the idea of climbing over other people's monuments just because you can get away with it, is the right approach. However, having said this, I did not notice the date was from years ago (something that has happened to me several times before when recent answers/comments from others cause an old question to bubble to the top again).
Like you, I too chose not to climb when I visited in 2004. There was a big sign at the start of the path.