The Mountain Path

A climber's journey through life and death

Author: Paul Pritchard

Series title:

Hardback publication date: 07 Oct 2021

Hardback ISBN: 9781839810923

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SHORTLISTED: The Great Outdoors Book of the Year 2021

CATEGORY FINALIST: Banff Mountain Literature Award 2022

SHORTLISTED: Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature 2022

‘A beautifully written, devastatingly honest account of choosing to live.’ – Marni Jackson, Boardman Tasker Award 2022 Chair of Judges

In 1998, Paul Pritchard was struck on the head by a falling rock as he climbed a sea stack in Tasmania. Close to death, Pritchard kept himself going with a promise that he would ‘at least attempt to live’. The Mountain Path is an adventure book like no other, an exploration of a healing brain, a test of will and a triumph of hope.

‘All I wanted to do was go to sleep. And I was certain that if I did drift off, it would be for the last time.’

In 1998, Paul Pritchard was struck on the head by a falling rock as he climbed a sea stack in Tasmania called the Totem Pole. Close to death, waiting for hours for rescue, Pritchard kept himself going with a promise that given the chance, he would ‘at least attempt to live’.

Left hemiplegic by his injury, Pritchard has spent the last two decades attempting to live, taking on adventures that seemed impossible for someone so badly injured while plumbing the depths of a mind almost snuffed out by his passion for climbing.

Not content to simply survive, Pritchard finds ways to return to his old life, cycling across Tibet and expanding his mind on gruelling meditation courses, revisiting the past and understanding his compulsion for risk. Finally, he returns to climb the Totem Pole, the place where his life was almost extinguished.

The Mountain Path is an adventure book like no other, an exploration of a healing brain, a journey into philosophy and psychology, a test of will and a triumph of hope.

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.

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