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Chockstone Forum - Crag & Route Beta

Crag & Route Beta

 Page 3 of 5. Messages 1 to 20 | 21 to 40 | 41 to 60 | 61 to 80 | 81 to 99
Area Location Sub Location Crag Links
All NSW (General) (General) (General)  

Balls Pyramid
John Davis
9:24:25 AM
Funny thing perception. On our first trip I remember the rotten and frightening rock.
On the second trip the rock was fine. Looked hard, but couldn't find anything wrong with
it. It is a rock like basalt with air bubbles in it so had plenty of grip. Climbing grades
were 14-18 depending which route you took.

When you look at the pyramid from the longest side, the skyline traverse is a series of
flat sections and vertical faces. There is very little scrambling up slopes. The only
scrambling is the first 100 metres to gannet green.

The SW face is very steep, having been formed through undercutting by the waves. It is
in shadow most of the time and looks a fearsome place. I've looked it now for over 2
weeks, and couldn't see a route up it directly under the summit. But then you never can.
The opposite face, NE, has a lot of sloping vegetation. It would be a mix of messy and
grade 18

The strongest 3 memories are:
first, the continual waves, you felt they were clawing at you, trying to pull you off. They
never stopped.

The second is the birds, their joyful soaring and diving, their cries day and night, the smell of their guano, and their trusting nature, sometimes you had to fight them for a
hand hold. They would land on you at night if you were sleeping where they normally did.

Thirdly, the magnificent exposure,at 500-600 metres it was all around you on a very
narrow ridge and pinnacle route. I've been higher since, but felt nothing to match it.

When we set out to climb it, I don't think any of us had even seen a picture of it. Just
knew the name and set out to climb it. Just for the adventure.

It's the sort of place and should not be locked up in a few old farts memories.

Don't let the dead hand of bureaucracy win this one.

John Davis
9:37:41 AM
Surely this is a boomer of a trip for Peter Treseder .He could borrow a canoe on Lord Howe paddle over do a solo double traverse , swim back to the canoe then paddle back to LH in time for tea.
9:42:45 AM
On 3/06/2009 John Davis wrote:
>If there are any ascents you know of please let me know

Hi John,
I worked with you briefly and later with your father, at CSR, almost 40 years ago. I recall a friend of mine, Roger Buick, saying he climbed Balls Pyramid with his then young daughter but I don't have any details. Sadly, Roger died climbing Everest solo a few years back.
john Davis
3:34:08 PM
Thought I'd better show the 4 faces of Balls pyramid to make it easier to talk about any
future trip.

John Davis

SE ridge - the classic route

SW face and skyline traverse

NW ridge

NE face - as yet unclimbed

7:15:17 PM
On 31/05/2009 Zane Priebbenow wrote:
>1968 J.Davis and others - 2nd assent - filmed
I think my French teacher was on this, and he showed us the film in school. To get to the start of the climb they had to swim from the boat through a school of hammerheads, after which the climb looked positively benign in comparison.

A total ban on climbing here does not appear to have any justification at all.
3:46:46 PM
Well, not too sure about being an old fart as well as a greedy climber but congratulations to Zane on posting this important topic as well as to John D's elequent replies.

As a person who has been touched by the Pyramid I can report that it is a surreal and fascinating place. The rock is akin to a gothic castle surrounded by a vast moat. Once on it, particularly on the south end, it is like being cast adrift on the Flying Dutchman. Hanging onto a steep wall with the waves crashing hundreds of metres below your feet, birds landing beside your hands and regurgitating their meal of fish, mutton birds nesting on you or crashing into you as they make their way back to their roosts at night, huge fish can be sighted in the water surrounds and all about you various types of sea birds are soaring metres away on the updrafts. There are places on the north end where the ridge is wafer thin and your respective eye look down its respective face at the waves below. Bound to make you either cross eyed or very scared - or both.

The rock although vegetated is mostly good and the bad rock can be avoided. There are a number of dykes running thorough the structure that give delightful climbing on small sharp holds, albeit with scant protection. There are beautiful bivouac spots that are relatively large and flat on both ends. There is one just below Winklestein's where the roof and the floor are incut for about 5 metres and it is like a patio some 200 metres or so above the sea. I would go back tomorrow if I could. If any one is planning a clandestine trip - let me know.

But what of the ban?? It is important for the climbing community to make sure that this icon of Australian climbing is made accessible to climbers again. However, there has been some important points mentioned on both sides of the argument. Numbers would need to be controlled although this is partially done by the effort and planning that is required for a successful trip. Simple things like there is no drinking water on the rock and you must not only be able to climb, you must also be a strong swimmer. On my second trip we had to swim about 130 metres to the boat through 5 metre waves. A pair of water wings will not suffice.

Numbers would certainly need to be controlled and a no litter ethic would need to be employed. It is my understanding that the phasmid is located off to the right of Gannet Green on the eastern side and well away from the climbing route. If climbers were to find some higher up then that would be an act of discovery that would only add to the known population.

It was really good to get this discussion going but time is short????

12:37:14 AM
On 3/06/2009 John Davis wrote:
>Dec 1964
>Estimated Visit No. 7 to Pyramid by climbers.
>David Kingsford-Smith 24

that would be my old French teacher....nice to have a bit of a blast from the past.
mikl law
12:46:06 PM
I don't imagine that there will ever be many climbers there, but what a great adventure.
9:13:27 AM
Thanks Zane for posting this and to all others who contributed. John Davis I found your history really interesting. KB makes me wish I could swim properly, I had to deal with a 3m swell at Ned's beach and that was enough.

I put in a submission for what its worth. I didn't mention the phasmid. This insect appears to be monstrous sort of like a land lobster (there is one in the LHI museum) so I think climbers would know if they were near one (& probably be freaked out by it). As long as we leave our rats and dogs at home I think this beastie will be OK.

Thanks again Zane we need freedom combined with common sense.
9:53:51 AM
Before I didn't really care much for it but after seeing the first and third picture I can understand the desire the scale it's heights. It looks impressive and would be a little intimidating sitting in a little boat looking up at it.

12:00:37 PM
A close friend of mine climbed it (in the 70's?). I think that the story goes that he found out that it hadn't
been officially claimed by Australia and wasn't in our territory and went out there and claimed it for some
cause and got some media publicity for said cause. They got caught in a big storm lashed to the cliff up
high and ended up stranded for a few extra days eating raw seabird. I'm not sure he wants his name on a
public forum. Anyway I think the govt reacted by swiftly incorporating it into Australian territory. If anyone
can verify this then I will out him for causing all this bureaucracy. Heh x Balls Pyramids height.
2:13:17 PM

>Claimed Pyramid as part of NSW as a bet with the Premier of NSW Neville
>Prior to this Balls Pyramid was an unclaimed rock. It then came under
>the control of the
>National Parks & Wildlife and the unfortunate result is that it in now
>illegal to climb Balls

So, is it possible to put another flag on top and reclaim it in the name of climbers

3:15:07 PM
I believe it was earlier than the quote above. Any info to back this up?

3:49:39 PM
On 22/06/2009 mikl law wrote:
>I don't imagine that there will ever be many climbers there, but what
>a great adventure.

Fully agree.

As a REMINDER to anyone still contemplating ...

This is the response I got when I submitted mine.
Thank you for your submission. It has been forwarded to the appropriate DECC staff members. If your submission was sent to us before the closing date, we will take it into consideration in finalising the document.

... time is now rapidly running out-

LHI-Draft Plan of Management, currently on public exhibition till the Monday 29 June 2009.

1:00:35 PM
Bump. I put in a submission today via the online setup. Hope it uploaded properly.

Zane Priebbenow
5:24:45 PM
If anyone has been trying to upload a submission today (29th June) and found: “the survey has ended” you can still submit until the end of today by emailing it to: (deleted)

5:44:48 PM
I will be interested in just how many submissions they received, and what effect they have on the outcome ...

2:05:32 PM
I have looked, but have not found anywhere (published) that contains an update as to how this DPM is progressing / outcomes.

Does anyone know what's happening?
1:28:38 PM
I was reading some stuff over on the 'Taco about Ball's Pyramid, and was wondering what became of this PoM. Bump for an interesting topic, and an update.

From NSW Environment & Heritage, this is extracted from the PLan of Management adopted in 2010:


"Except with the permission of the Board for management or research purposes,
access (for both visitors and residents) will not be permitted to the following areas... - any of the offshore islands, apart from Roach Island and Blackburn Island"


"Recreational rock climbing is prohibited on Balls Pyramid and on areas above
walking tracks (e.g. on the cliff above the Lower Road). Elsewhere on the island it
requires either permission from the Board or the services of a licensed guide. No
applications for rock climbing have been received in recent times and it is generally
believed that the geology of most cliff faces is too unstable to permit safe climbing.
Climbing to access research sites (e.g. on Balls Pyramid) or for management
purposes (e.g. weeding on cliffs) can occur, subject to the Board’s approval."

You can download a copy of the PoM from

2:29:44 PM
I promise I will pull our every weed I see on the way up Ball's Pyramid.

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