The Totem Pole
Surviving the ultimate adventure
- Paul Pritchard
- Publication date
- 1 Aug 2020
Mountain climbing defined Paul Pritchard’s existence and signposted his horizons. One of the leading climbers of the 1980s and 1990s, his adventures took him from his Snowdonia base to the Himalaya, from the Karakoram to Patagonia, from Baffin Island to the Pamirs. Winning the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature in 1997 with his book Deep Play allowed him a life dedicated to climbing. Paul spent the prize money on a round-the-world climbing tour, which eventually found him in Tasmania attempting the most slender sea stack on the planet, the Totem Pole.
On Friday 13 February 1998, Paul’s life was changed irrevocably by a TV-sized boulder which fell from this sea stack and struck him on the head. He spent the next years fighting the hemiplegia which paralysed the right side of his body, and caused such a terrible brain injury that doctors thought he might never walk or speak again.
Over the following year, Paul began to collect his experiences – from the panic of the ten-hour rescue to the triumph of regaining abilities previously thought lost – and, using only one finger, he punched them into his computer, one letter at a time. The result is The Totem Pole. The first book to win both the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature and the Banff Mountain Book Festival Grand Prize, The Totem Pole is a sobering and painful story which embodies the resilience that has characterised Paul’s life, but it is also funny and ultimately uplifting – a must-read for climbers and non-climbers alike.
Available as an ebook:
Paul Pritchard is an award-winning author and one of the UK's most visionary and accomplished climbers. Originally from Lancashire, he began climbing in his teens and went on to repeat some of the most difficult routes in the country, before moving to North Wales where he played a pivotal role in the development of the Dinorwig slate quarries and the imposing Gogarth cliffs on Anglesey. A move into mountaineering followed, with significant ascents around the world, including the East Face of the Central Tower of Paine in Patagonia, and the first ascent of the West Face of Mount Asgard on Baffin Island.
In 1998 his life changed dramatically when he was hit by falling rock while climbing the Totem Pole, a sea stack off the Tasmanian coast. He was left with Hemiplegia – paralysis down the right side of his body – and also lost the power of speech for many months. Since his accident Paul has continued to lead a challenging life through caving, tricycle racing, sea kayaking, river rafting, climbing Kilimanjaro, and, in 2009, a return to lead rock climbing. He has devoted a considerable amount of time to raising awareness for the charity Headway and the Upendo Leprosy Centre in Tanzania, and he is a patron of Hemihelp and the Llanberis Mountain Film Festival.
He is the author of three books – Deep Play, Totem Pole, and The Longest Climb – and has won the prestigious Boardman Tasker Prize on two occasions (Deep Play, 1997; Totem Pole, 1999). Totem Pole was also awarded the Grand Prize at the 1999 Banff Mountain Book Festival. Paul lives in Hobart, Tasmania.
Avialble as an ebook:
- Imprint: Vertebrate Publishing
- ISBN: 978-1-83981-036-7
- Publication Date: 1 August 2020
- Price: £9.99