BALLS PYRAMID
Most dramatic of all the Pacific Islands!!!
Douglass Baglin, Islands of Australia, 1970
   
 SEE REVIEWS BELOW
  
CONTENTS:                                                                             See Reviews Below

INTRODUCTION
Balls Pyramid, its discovery and early visitors — Jim Smith...................................................................... 11
Photographic portfolio: the moods of Balls Pyramid................................................................................... 20
The origin of Balls Pyramid — Jim Smith........................................................................................................... 29
The early climbing history — Jack Pettigrew................................................................................................... 31
An anthology of quotations about Balls Pyramid — compiled by Jim Smith....................................... 35
Describing the ridges and faces of Balls Pyramid — Jim Smith and Keith Bell................................... 43
Poetry of the Pyramid............................................................................................................................................... 48

FIRST ASCENT — 1965
An ascent of Balls Pyramid — Jack Pettigrew.................................................................................................. 51
Balls Pyramid expedition 1965 — David Witham.........................................................................................  57
Balls Pyramid, the first ascent — John Davis................................................................................................... 62
The ascent of Balls Pyramid — Don Wilcox.......................................................................................... ........... 64
Interviews — Bryden Allen.....................................................................................................................................  67

SECOND ASCENT — 1969
From Balls Head to Balls Pyramid — Jim Smith.............................................................................................. 69
The 1969 expedition members — Jim Smith................................................................................................... 76
The Pyramid is conquered! — Gary Steer......................................................................................................... 81
The second ascent — John Worrall...................................................................................................................... 87
My last rockclimbing adventure — Jim Smith................................................................................................. 94
Jack Pettigrew’s abseiling incident — John Davis and Gary Steer.......................................................... 98
Photographic portfolio: the 1969 climbers in action................................................................................... 99
To picture a Pyramid — Gary Steer.................................................................................................................... 105
       
WILDLIFE
The wildlife of Balls Pyramid — Jim Smith..................................................................................................... 115
Photographic portfolio: a gallery of gannets................................................................................................ 127
The search for the Black Phasmid — Jim Smith..........................................................................................  133
Photographic portfolio: fantastic phasmids...................................................................................................141
Fishing at Balls Pyramid — Jim Smith............................................................................................................... 147

RETROSPECTIVES
Reflections on climbing Balls Pyramid, 50 years on — Jack Pettigrew............................................... 151
What I learned on Balls Pyramid — Jim Smith.............................................................................................. 159
Looking back — Jonathan Pascoe...................................................................................................................... 163
Photographic portfolio: life at Balls Pyramid base camp......................................................................... 164

 


    

THIRD ASCENT — 1970
First ascent of the western ridge — Keith Bell................................................................................................................... 171

FOURTH ASCENT — 1973
A tale of two ridges — Keith Bell............................................................................................................................................. 179

FIFTH ASCENT — 1975
Sea, sky and an empty horizon — Keith Lockwood.........................................................................................................  187

TWO ASCENTS — DECEMBER 1980 
Surveying Balls Pyramid — Chris Frost................................................................................................................................. 193
Fourteen days on Balls Pyramid — Cameron Schroder.................................................................................................. 201
Balls to the wall; an ascent of the largest sea stack in the world — Jim Truscott................................................. 213
 
 
INTERNATIONAL EXPEDITIONS
The Japanese expedition 1982 — Kazutaka Fujiwara.................................................................................................... 217
The French expedition 1984 — Michel Zalio...................................................................................................................... 225
The American expedition 1984............................................................................................................................................... 236


THE LAST ASCENT? — 2014
Unknown climbers........................................................................................................................................................................ 237

HISTORICAL REVIEWS
Summary of climbing history and bibliography — Jim Smith....................................................................................... 241
The climbers of Balls Pyramid — Jim Smith........................................................................................................................ 253
The ban on climbing Balls Pyramid — Jim Smith............................................................................................................... 261
Stories, facts and statistics about Balls Pyramid — Jim Smith.................................................................................... 268
Reflections — Jim Smith............................................................................................................................................................. 277


APPENDICES
Appendix 1: Letters by Jim Smith about climbing on Balls Pyramid, 1985-2014................................................ 279
Appendix 2: Submission by Keith Bell, 2009...................................................................................................................... 282
Appendix 3: The nomenclature of Balls Pyramid — Keith Bell.................................................................................... 290
Acknowledgements.......................................................................................................................................................................295
The Editors....................................................................................................................................................................................... 296
    
Reviews and Comments:
"The book is wonderful...so much information in there. I reckon it will be a reference book on the pyramid for the next century or more. Fantastic effort ... in pulling this together. You've set a new standard of excellence in the production of a climbing-related publication".
Dr Michael Meadows (Author) 
"The Living Rock: the invention of climbing in eastern Australia"


    Wow…what a great job you both have done! A really classy production, but moreover, a historical bible! I cannot wait to sit down and read it.
Well done, great work guys.
Bruce Cameron ( NSW climber and author of "A History of the Blue Labyrinth")

I've collected and opened the package (containing the book) and it is outstanding. I haven't came anywhere near to reading it in full, but the history and the descriptions are awesome. So much I didn't know about too. So many great photos from perspectives I only glimsed or never saw. Or as a poet once said, 'So many songs unsung.' 
Please tell Jim how much I admire the style and scholarship and detail. 
Ben Sandilands, journalist, aviation blogger and Balls Pyramid veteran

"Wonderful writing - it's so friendly and yet authoritative. I really loved how informative this book was. It has a coffee table effect due to [its] beautiful images".
Sydney Rockclimbing Club Member

"A great new climbing, photographic and historical book focussing fully on Balls Pyramid: A must-have for climbers and anybody interested in this impressive ocean spire".

Warwick Williams (Climber & Past President, Sydney Rockclimbing Club).

Firstly, thank you for asking for some of my images and many congratulations on what looks like a wonderful publication. The work that has gone into this is a testament to you and all who were involved...
I love reading more about LHI,Balls Pyramid and the Phasmid which has been the focus of my work at Melbourne Zoo since 2003.
Once again a huge congratulations on publishing this book.

Rohan Cleave (Melbourne Zoo and co-author of "Phasmid -Saving the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect")


"I also wanted to congratulate you both on creating a beautiful publication. Having published one expedition book of my own, I can appreciate just how much research and production went into your book. It really is an important record for Australians generally, and it sets a high bar for other such publications.
Let’s hope it will inspire others to value their achievements and publish to share them in such a way.
You guys should be feeling very proud for completing such a mammoth task. And it really is a readable book, unlike most picture & adventure books. You can feel the love for your work steaming off the pages".

 Earl de Blonville FRGS, author of "Seventh Journey" - The story of Australia's first Arctic expedition.


"This is a terrific book and it  is quite inspiring".

Bryden Allen (Leader, First Ascent of Balls Pyramid, 1965).







"A huge task finally completed and in fine style. I'm very much looking forward to hearing around campfires and among natural resource managers, discussion about the book and the stories it contains. Congratulations".
Paul Priebbenow, Brisbane climber.

Detailed but the authors keep it fresh and interesting as each expedition is a different kettle of fish.
Great book, I keep hopping between expeditions so it will take me a while. The ultimate seacliff!!"

Mikl Law (NSW climber on Facebook and author of "Law unto Himself")

Balls Pyramid. It's out there. With an ''out there'' atmosphere, ''out there'' bugs and birds, ''out there'' exposure and ''out there'' climbing. And it's out there in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean.
As such, the world's largest sea stack has a rich history and countless larger-than-life stories.
Jim Smith has collected many of these stories over the past 47 years and put them together in his richly-illustrated new book ''South Pacific Pinnacle, the exploration of Balls Pyramid'' with support from Keith Bell. Jim was on the second ascent of Balls Pyramid in 1969 and Keith was on the first ascent of the west ridge (1970) and first to do the skyline traverse (1973), so they know their subject intimately.
The book covers a myriad of topics including the pyramid's discovery, early exploration and ascents, reflections of pioneer climbers, the Japanese, French and American expeditions, the rare stick insect, the sharks, the fishing, the circumnavigation by lilo, the anonymous expedition in 2014 and the controversial ban on climbing introduced in 1986. Fittingly, the book is dedicated to the memory of pioneer NSW climber John Davis, who figures largely in the stories and photography of Balls Pyramid.
Coupled with many superb photos, this book is essential reading for anyone with an appreciation of wild and lonely places.

- review by Keith Lockwood, who was on the fifth ascent in 1975.
(Author of "Arapiles: A million Mountains")


I have just finished reading a fine new book on the climbing history and other aspects of Balls Pyramid. The book is called “South Pacific Pinnacle – The Exploration of Balls Pyramid” and had been edited by Jim Smith with the aid of Keith Bell.
Balls Pyramid has been called the “worlds tallest sea stack”. It is an amazing pinnacle of rock, the last remnants of an old volcanic caldera that lies close to Lord Howe Island. Its spectacular summit is about 560 m above the sea. 
The pinnacle was not climbed until 1965, by a party from Sydney that included John Davis, Bryden Allen and Jack Pettigrew. This was not long after an earlier attempt by Rick Higgins, Dave Roots and others that managed to climb about two thirds of the way up. The books describes these early expeditions and the problems they encountered. One of these problems, and perhaps the most difficult was getting on and off the pinnacle from boats moored nearby in the open sea.


 



Both the editors have a close association with Balls Pyramid. Jim Smith (who has authored many books relating to bushwalking in the Blue Mountains) was a member of an expedition that climbed the Pyramid in 1969, and he also summited. Keith Bell has climbed the pyramid twice – the first time by a new route, that went up a harder ridge than the first ascent, and then later, he was on the first traverse of the pyramid. A lot of original accounts of climbing the pyramid have been used as well as some later recollections and the book is well illustrated with photographs.
An interesting aspect of the Pyramid is the wildlife found inhabiting it. It is used as a nesting site by a multitude of birds. But there are also some quite strange animals that live there – giant centipedes, reported to be up to 45 cm long and some unusual phasmids. Jim Smith, who has a background in zoology reports on all these.
After reading the book, my first desire was to go and climb the pyramid. It sounds like such an amazing place. But unfortunately rock climbing on the Pyramid has been banned since the mid 1980’s.
I have had the privilege of knowing some of the early climbers on Balls Pyramid – Rick Higgins, Bryden Allen and Jack Pettigrew. I also met on a few occasions John Davis, who was a very respected climber, canyoner and photographer. John died shortly before the book was published, in a helicopter crash. The book is dedicated to his memory.
I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys wild places, and in particular wild steep places. Copies can be ordered at this website.
David Noble