Mountaineering exploits

1. Frenchman's Cap:

Bryden Allen and I climbed the SE Face of Frenchman's Cap for the first time in 1964.  We called this route "A Toi La Gloire" but it is mostly known as the "Sydney Route" now, being climbed by many parties each summer. Recently, Bryden and I were quite moved by forgotten aspects of the route's exposure, evident in some slides shown to us in May 2000 by Jonathan Leicester, who had just done the route at age 60. At left below is one of Jon's pictures, looking down onto the corner crux.

In the 60's, the hut at Lake Tahune was a picturesque structure in King Billy Pine (see below, at right), that burnt down and was replaced.

2. Ball's Pyramid:

History: First climbed on February 14, 1965 by Bryden Allen, John Davis, Jack Pettigrew and David Witham.

I have included a copy of the announcement of this fact in the Sydney Morning Herald. The reason for doing this is not to boast, but to counter some recent attempts to claim that only the later, official, ascent is bona fide because it claimed the summit of the Pyramid for NSW! When Bryden Allen attempted recently to have the Sydney Morning Herald publish a clarification of the details of the first ascent and quash this bureaucratic nonsense, he was refused.....by the same paper that ran a detailed series on the first ascent!

Bryden Allen's Homepage


 
 

There had been numerous previous unsuccessful attempts, because of a wide range of problems peculiar to that climb. These included the reluctance of the local Lord Howe Islanders to allow climbers to overnight on the rock, the difficulties of the landing, and the local fauna (which ranged from the more benign wedge-tailed shearwaters that disturbed sleeping climbers at their bivouacs when the birds returned at night to find their roosts occupied.....to centipedes whose venom turned the arms and heads of some bivouacing climbers into touchy, watermelon-sized swellings after torches had dimmed and they could no longer defend themselves with piton hammers.

Climbing on Ball's Pyramid is currently banned by the NSW State Government. 


This image was captured from the flying boat that used to take visitors from Rose Bay in Sydney to Lord Howe Island in the 60s. It shows the West face, with the SE ridge used for the first ascent on the right, and the North Ridge, not climbed until the 80s, on the left.

This image looks straight at the North ridge. The SE ridge used for the first ascent is visible in sihouette on the right, where one can see the named features such as Gannet Green and Winkelstein's Steeple (named after the oft-repeated song "Balls to Mr. Winklestein", that was sung repeatedly in bravado by one of the unsuccessful teams as it endured sea urchin spines and barnacle scratches from the landing, falling rock, and waves of centipedes at the bivouac).

This view is looking North along the Cheval Ridge, with Lord Howe Island visible in the background. Cheval ridges are apochryphally so narrow that the best way to traverse them is "a cheval", astride with a leg on each side. This ridge almost enabled one to spit into the ocean on either the West or the East side! The extreme narrowness of the ridge is emphasised by the large hole in it, a hundred feet or so below its crest, that had been noticed by Sir Francis Chichester on one of his early sailing adventures.

This is the view of Ball's Pyramid one gets from the North as one approaches it by boat from Lord Howe Island. The Wheatsheaf is a prominent landmark that sits on the same seamount as the Pyramid. 


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