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

“I eagerly await every chronicle of Paul Pritchard’s journey of recovery from a terrible accident, especially his bold journeys into the heart of himself. The Longest Climb is a superbly crafted addition to the series of books that began with Deep Play, and it’s the one that takes the writer, and us, closer to the end of Joseph Campbell’s mythic circle, when the hero is resurrected and returns home with the sacred elixir—in this case, Pritchard’s inspiring, page-turning recipe for wisdom, strength, joy and peace against all the odds.” —Geoff Powter, author of Inner Ranges: An Anthology of Mountain Thoughts and Mountain People and Strange and Dangerous Dreams: The Fine Line Between Adventure and Madness among others

“Paul Pritchard is unstoppable. After a life-altering injury, he picked himself up, put in the hours to rehab his body and his brain, and never gave up. His legendary writing skills just keep getting better and his perception of what is most important in life is honing in on enlightening. A true inspiration.” —Bernadette McDonald, author of Art of Freedom: The Life and Climbs of Voytek Kurtyka, Alpine Warriors, Freedom Climbers and Keeper of the Mountains: The Elizabeth Hawley Story and numerous other titles

“With humor, humility and unvarnished honesty, Paul Pritchard examines what it means to pursue passion no matter what. A few books truly capture the world’s wild places. A few take us to the heart of what it means to be human. The Longest Climb is the rarity that does both.” —Michael Wejchert, author of Hidden Mountains: Survival and Reckoning after a Climb Gone Wrong

“Bad luck can diminish life, or, as in Paul Pritchard’s case, misfortune can deepen and enrich life. After he was struck by a rock while climbing a seastack in Tasmania, Pritchard wondered if he would ever walk or speak again, let alone climb Mount Kilimanjaro. It sounds glib to argue that disability can bring gifts. But when Pritchard makes the case, I believe him, because he has travelled farther into the light and dark corners of the human condition than most of us and has shared with us stories that are hugely entertaining and, yes, inspiring.” —Marni Jackson, former faculty of the Banff Centre’s Mountain and Wilderness Writing program