Paul was a cutting-edge rock climber and mountaineer hailing from the UK. His adventures took him from Wales to the Himalayas, the Karakoram to Patagonia, Baffin Island to the Pamirs and the European Alps.
When he won the Boardman/Tasker Award for mountain literature in 1997, with his book Deep Play, he spent the prize money on a world climbing tour that found him in Tasmania climbing a slender sea stack known as The Totem Pole. It was here that all he had known before was turned on its head.
On Friday the 13th of February 1998 a TV-sized boulder falling from 25 meters inflicted such terrible head injuries that doctors thought he might never walk or even speak again.
Being in hospital for a year gave Paul the impetus to write his second book: The Totem Pole in 2000. This narrative about his personal journey through hemiplegia also won the Boardman/Tasker prize and the Banff Mountain Book Festival Grand Prize and was translated into four languages. Nominated for the Banff Prize, The Longest Climb followed in 2005.
He has continued to lead a challenging life, climbing Kilimanjaro, caving, sea kayaking, river rafting and, in 2009, lead rock climbing again. Paul rode a recumbent trike through Tibet to Mount Everest and, in 2016 he finally climbed the Totem Pole, 18 years after his accident. His latest journey was the 2152 km World Expeditions Lowest to Highest Expedition.
Paul has spent his time since the accident in contemplation of the hemiplegia which has robbed his right side of movement and continues to play tricks with his speech and memory. He sees the accident as a precious gift and describes it as the best thing that has ever happened to him. He is a passionate believer that without the mountains he climbed, and moreso the Totem Pole accident, he would not have learnt some crucial life lessons.
Those lessons learned in the mountains got him through a harrowing injury, and the painfully slow recovery process has engendered a life lived in the moment.
"I use them still, repeatedly, each day of my second, radically different life."
The Lowest to Highest
Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre to Mt Kosciuszko-Targangil
-15.2m to 2,228m
2152km 43 days 5 riders
"As we progressed along the ride something slowly dawned on me: this was a journey of empowerment.
A Freedom for people with disabilities."
Paul continues to go on adventures, gives talks at events around the world, and is an award winning author.
He lives in Tasmania with his partner & kids.
Schedule Paul's talk for your next event.
- MedMobility Conference, Edmonton, Canada - 20 Oct 2016.
- Banff Mountain Film Festival, Canada –29 Oct - 6 Nov 2016.
- LLAMFF Llanberis, Wales - 3rd March 2017.
- Banff World Tour - Volkhaus, Zurich - 10th March 2017
- Banff World Tour - Gundeldinger-Casino, Basel - 12th March 2017
- YHA Australia National Conference - Hobart 3 - 4th May 2017
- ACCCN Symposium 7th June - 2017
- Sydney - 20th June 2017 - Webster Theatre / USYD
- Canberra - 21st June 2017 - ANU / 'The Tank'
- Hobart - 28th June 2017 - UTas / Dechaineux
- Adelaide - 4th July - The Mercury Theatre
- Melbourne - 5th July 2017 - Mantra on Russel
- Brisbane 6th July 2017 - Metro Arts / Lumen Room
- AMP tomorrow fund lunch - Sydney 18th January 2018 - ICC Darling Harbour.
- Rotary Tasmania Conference 7 April 2018 - Grand Chancellor, Hobart.
- Grade 6 Intense Experience Writing 21 May - 21 Aug - South Hobart Primary.
- Devonport - 16th September - Lowest To Highest and Doing It Scared Q/A CMAX Cinema.
Watch this site for updates on the Rummin film Lowest To Highest documenting Paul's last big adventure, an unprecedented 2152km pedal powered expedition from the lowest to highest point in Australia.