Ball's Pyramid is an erosional remnant of a shield volcano and caldera that formed about 7 million years ago. Ball's Pyramid is 20 km (13 miles) southeast of Lord Howe Island in the Pacific Ocean. It is 562 m high, while measuring only 200 m across. Ball's Pyramid is located at . It is part of the Lord Howe Island Marine Park.
Ball's Pyramid has a few satellite islets. Observatory Rock and Wheatsheaf Islet lie about 800 m WNW and 800 m WSW, respectively, of the western extremity of Ball's Pyramid. Southeast Rock is a pinnacle located about 3.5 km southeast of Ball's Pyramid. Like Lord Howe Island and the Lord Howe seamount chain, Ball's Pyramid is based on the Lord Howe Rise, part of the submerged continent of Zealandia.
The pyramid was named after Lieutenant Henry Ball who discovered it in 1788 at the same time he discovered Lord Howe Island (see the history section of that article). The first person to go ashore is believed to have been Henry Wilkinson in 1882, who was a geologist at the New South Wales Department of Mines.
The first successful climb to the summit was made on 14 February 1965 by a team of climbers from the Sydney Rock Climbing Club, consisting of Bryden Allen, John Davis, Jack Pettigrew and David Witham.
There had been an earlier attempt in 1964 by another Sydney team that included adventurer Dick Smith (then just 20 years old) and other members of the Scouting movement. They were forced to turn back on their fifth day running short of food and water. In 1979 Smith returned to the pyramid, together with climbers John Worrall and Hugh Ward, and they successfully reached the summit. At the top they unfurled a flag of New South Wales provided to them by Premier Neville Wran and declared the island Australian territory (a formality which it seems had not previously been done).
Rick White did an unroped free solo to the summit in 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Climbing was banned in 1982 under amendments to the Lord Howe Island Act, and in 1986 all access to the island was banned by the Lord Howe Island Board. In 1990 the policy changed to allow some climbing under strict conditions, which in recent years has required an application to the relevant state Minister (e.g.).
In 2001, a team of entomologists and conservationists landed on Ball's Pyramid to chart its flora and fauna. To their surprise they rediscovered a population of the Lord Howe Island stick insect (Dryococelus australis) living in an area of six by 30 metres, at a height of 100 metres above the shoreline, under a single Melaleuca shrub. The bush is growing in a small crevice where water was seeping through cracks in the underlying rocks. This moisture supported relatively lush plant growth which had, over time, resulted in a build up of plant debris, several metres deep. The population was extremely small, only 24 individuals. On the unsuccessful 1964 climb, Dave Roots had brought back a photograph of the insect, which the Australian Museum told him they thought was extinct.