Paul is probably best known for his remarkable effort in re-climbing the Totem Pole in 2016 in Tasmania, following a serious injury incurred whilst climbing that same edifice 18 years earlier.

After Paul's presentation, the award-winning documentary, Doing it Scared, will be shown.


Paul was a cutting-edge rock climber and mountaineer hailing from the UK. He embodied the climb-now-work-later ethos (and coined the tagline). His climbing adventures took him from Wales to the Himalayas, from the Karakoram to Patagonia, from Baffin Island to the Pamirs.

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, 13 February 1998 a TV-sized boulder falling from 25m 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. This narrative about his personal journey through hemiplegia won him an unprecedented second Boardman/Tasker prize, and the Banff Mountain Book Festival Grand Prize and was translated into four languages.

Paul 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.

In 2017 Paul, and four 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.

He sees the accident as a gift and describes it as the best thing that has ever happened to him. He passionately believes that without the mountains he climbed, and 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, the painfully slow recovery process, and has engendered a life lived in the moment.