Having nearly died attempting to climb Tasmania’s Totem Pole in 1998, Paul Pritchard spent 18 years in recovery before attempting the feat once more.

One of the UK’s leading climbers in the ’80s and ’90s, Pritchard travelled the world seeking new challenges. However, it was a slim sea stack off the Tasman Peninsula that brought him up short. Standing at the base of the Totem Pole in preparation of his climb, a piece of rock fell directly onto his head.

After awaiting help for 10 hours, Pritchard was found to have sustained a fractured skull and had lost as much as half of his blood, requiring six hours of brain surgery and four weeks in the Royal Hobart Hospital. It was there that he met his future wife, who was a nurse at the time.

Eighteen years since the incident, Pritchard returned to the Totem Pole to find out if he’d recovered sufficiently to complete the climb. The event is captured in the award-winning film, ‘Doing It Scared‘, which appears in the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

The success and positive message of the documentary has motivated Pritchard to make it the subject of a national speaking tour, for which he intends to appear in Australian capitals mid-year.

One of Pritchard’s core learnings is that disabled people should not be thought of as lacking in ability.

“It’s society that is disabled around them,” he said.

“The accident taught me a lot about acceptance and about letting the future go without anticipation and with this acceptance comes the courage to navigate the necessary stumbling stones of life.”

Tour dates are listed below, while tickets can be organised through the World Expeditions website.

  • Sydney – 20th of June
  • Canberra – 21 of June
  • Hobart – 28th of June
  • Adelaide – 4th of July
  • Melbourne – 5th of July
  • Brisbane – 6th of July