The Longest Climb

A Memoir of Love, Mountaineering, and Healing

ISBN 9781771606905
Softcover | Publication Date: April 16, 2024
288 Pages

About the Book

An inspiring, moving, and unblinking view of a battered climber who refuses to turn his back on the mountains.

Born in Bolton, England, Paul Pritchard started climbing when he was 16 years old. In time, he became one of the foremost British climbers of the 1980s and 1990s, climbing difficult routes across the United Kingdom and around the world, including the East Face of Central Tower in Torres del Paine, Patagonia, the first ascent of the West Face of Mount Asgard on Baffin Island, Trango Tower in northern Pakistan, and multiple attempts on the then-unclimbed Shark’s Fin on Meru Peak, in the Indian Himalayan region.

On Friday, February 13, 1998, Paul’s life was dramatically altered when he was struck in the head by a falling boulder while climbing the Totem Pole, a slender sea stack off the coast of Tasmania. He received a traumatic head injury and was left suffering from hemiplegia, which has robbed his right side of movement and continues to play tricks with his speech and memory.

A remarkable story that highlights life’s surprising gifts and crucial lessons, The Longest Climb chronicles Paul’s inspiring journey back to life and reminds us all that “When we spend time in the mountains, we do not escape from our woes. We come home and learn how to accept them.”

About the Author(s)

Paul Pritchard is an award-winning author, respected mountaineer, and internationally renowned public speaker. He serves as a disability advocate, delivering keynote presentations worldwide. Additionally, Paul dedicates his time as a diversity and inclusion trainer, volunteering for the Human Library, an organization that challenges the harmful effects of stereotyping and prejudice. With four published books to his credit, namely Deep Play: Climbing the World's Most Dangerous Routes, The Totem Pole, The Mountain Path: A Climber's Journey Through Life and Death, and The Longest Climb: A Memoir of Love, Mountaineering, and Healing Paul has earned recognition in the literary world. His achievements include winning the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature on two occasions and securing the grand prize at the Banff Mountain Book Festival. Paul resides in Hobart, Tasmania.


“Human vulnerability and indestructibility overlap in Paul Pritchard’s lean prose and moving story-telling. You won’t find a better exploration of the costly, tragic, funny and life-affirming realities of a climber’s life. Anything Pritchard writes is necessary reading for mountain literature fans.” —David Smart, author of Emilio Comici: Angel of the Dolomites and Paul Preuss: Lord of the Abyss

“In The Longest Climb, Paul Pritchard redefines the meaning of `able’. With honesty, lyricism and wry humour, he relates his against-all-odds journey back to the mountains after a climbing accident left him with appalling injuries. It’s a life-affirming story of determination, love, compassion, and the astonishing possibilities of a human body and spirit.” —Maria Coffey, author of Instead: Navigating the Adventures of a Childfree Life – A Memoir and Where the Mountain Casts its Shadow

“Paul Pritchard is a good writer and a kind man who has found truth in his life and shares it. Mounts Kenya and Kilimanjaro, the two highest peaks in Africa, handed him some gifts and Paul is passing those onto us.” —Barry Blanchard, alpinist, mountain guide, and author of The Calling