Paul Pritchard

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Paul Pritchard on the First Ascent of 'El Caballo de Diablo'.

Paul Pritchard (born 1967 in Bolton, Lancashire) was one of the leading British climbers[1] of the 1980s and 1990s. He started climbing at 16 in his native Lancashire, and within a year had started to repeat some of the hardest routes in the county, as well as beginning his own additions.

Pritchard made many ascents of outstanding problems in the Wilton Quarries, Anglezarke and Hoghton as well as playing a pivotal role in the early development of both Craig y Longridge and Thorn Crag and engaging in extensive exploration of Malham Cove.

In 1986 He moved to Llanberis in North Wales, climbing extensively on the slate of the Llanberis quarries and on the sea cliffs at Gogarth. He gained a reputation for climbing hard and very poorly protected routes such as Super Calabrese (E8 6b) at Gogarth, still considered one of the most serious routes in the UK. In 1990, he began mountaineering, and subsequently climbed many difficult mountain routes around the world.

On Friday 13 February 1998, Pritchard's life changed drastically when he was hit by a large boulder as he was climbing the Totem Pole, a slender sea stack off the coast of Tasmania. He was left suffering from hemiplegia, a condition that robbed him of feeling and movement in his right side and which caused his speech and memory to suffer.

Pritchard has continued to lead a challenging life even after such a catastrophic injury. He has climbed Kilimanjaro, rode a recumbent trike through Tibet to Mount Everest and took the lead rock climbing again. In 2016 Paul finally climbed the Totem Pole, 18 years after his accident[2].

In 2017 Paul, and 4 other people with disabilities made the first ever journey under human power between Australia’s extremities of altitude. On the Lowest To Highest Expedition the team members cycled from Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre (-15m) to Kosciuszko -Targangil (2228m), a distance of 2152km.

Pritchard has written three books:

  • Deep Play (1997) is about his early climbing experiences
  • Totem Pole (1999) about his accident and his recovery from it
  • The Longest Climb (2005) continues his story of recovery

He won the Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature for each of the first two of these. Totem Pole was also awarded the 1999 Banff Mountain Book Festival Grand Prize.


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