Totem Pole (Tasmania)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Totem Pole
The Totem Pole and The Candlestick
Map showing the location of The Totem Pole
Map showing the location of The Totem Pole
LocationCape Hauy
Coordinates43°08′22″S 148°00′21″E / 43.13938°S 148.00579°E / -43.13938; 148.00579
Route TypeTrad climb
Vertical Gain65 metres (213 ft)
Rating24  (The Free Route)
First ascentJohn Ewbank and Allan Keller, 1968
First free ascentDoug McConnel and Dean Rollins

The Totem Pole is a sea stack popular amongst rockclimbers in the Tasman National Park, Tasmania, Australia. It contains a number of climbing routes, and is famous for being the site of the 1998 accident which caused climber Paul Pritchard's hemiplegia.[1][2]

First ascent[edit]

The Totem Pole was first climbed in 1968 by John Ewbank and Allan Keller[3][4] and freed by Doug McConnel and Dean Rollins.[5]

Lynn Hill attempted the first onsight, but fell after breaking a hold, leaving Monique Forestier to onsight it a few years later.

Paul Pritchard's accident[edit]

Paul planned on climbing the Totem Pole in 1998 with his partner Celia when, after abseiling down, his rope caught a large rock which fell 9 metres (30 ft) onto his head. Celia ran 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) back to Fortescue Bay to call for help. He survived on the ledge for eight hours before he was rescued and was left paralysed on his left side and with speech and memory difficulties. He later wrote a book about the experience and returned in 2016 to complete the climb.[6][7]

Rock type[edit]

Tasmania is known for its igneous dolerite pillars, which are popular amongst climbers.[8] These pillars were formed by volcanic activity extruding magma from the ground, which when cooled at a constant rate creates rare hexagonal pillars.[9] These form via a slightly different mechanism to usual sea-stacks, and can be found at other rock-climbing sites around the state including Mount Wellington's Organ Pipes.



  1. ^ "Tasmania's Totem Pole – A Climber's Best Challenge". Unusual Places. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  2. ^ "Tasmanian adventurer twenty years on from 'catastrophic' Totem Pole accident".
  3. ^ "The Totem Pole, Rock climbing". theCrag.
  4. ^ "Obituary: John Ewbank, 1948 – 2013". Vertical Life. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  5. ^ "Sonnie Trotter Makes FFA of Tasmania Totem Pole Route".
  6. ^ Paul Pritchard (16 November 2000). The Totem Pole: Surviving the Ultimate Adventure. Robinson Publishing. ISBN 1841192430.
  7. ^ Carol Rääbus. "Paul Pritchard climbs Tasmania's Totem Pole 18 years after it nearly killed him". ABC.
  8. ^ Ben Rueck and Mayan Smith-Gobat. "Two Towers: The Wild Sea Stacks of Tasmania".
  9. ^ "The Dolerite Columns of Coastal Tasmania".