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Paul Pritchard Totem Pole on Australian Story
2:01:19 PM
Hi just thought people might be interested that the Australian Story show of Paul Pritchard returning to the Totem Pole will be screening on the ABC on monday the 11/7 and 8pm.

[quote]Eighteen years after the accident that nearly killed him, renowned climber Paul Pritchard returns to climb Tasmania’s notorious Totem Pole to make peace with the past.

‘The thought of going down there and climbing that spire terrified me. It’s against all human instinct.’ – John Middendorf, climber

‘The first time I stood on top of it, I was actually quite disturbed. The chances of it falling over while you stood there were just a bit too high.’ – Steve Monks, climber and mountain guide.

‘It’s a very scenic place for a head injury.’ – Paul Pritchard, writer and adventurer.

When Paul Pritchard returned to the Totem Pole in the stunning Tasman National Park three months ago it was the culmination of an eighteen-year journey.

Surrounded by friends and a film crew, he planned to close a chapter of his past and revisit a climb that ended in disaster nearly two decades ago.

This time, with only half his body functioning properly, the stakes were high. The climb would be recorded in vertigo-inducing detail using drones and go-pro helmet cameras. Any mistakes would be caught on camera.

‘I’m nervous,’ he said. ‘Much more than I thought I’d be. I’m in my late 40s and I’ve got kids and have more responsibilities. I’ve got more to live for.'

‘Everybody who needed to be there was there,’ remembers Pritchard’s partner, Melinda Oogjes. ‘It was like something unfurling in front of you. It was amazing.’

The former professional climber and writer suffered a massive head injury on Friday the 13th 1998 when his rope dislodged a ‘computer monitor’ sized rock that ripped his head open.

He was saved by the actions of then-girlfriend, Celia Bull, who hauled him up thirty metres to a halfway ledge before running for help. In a second stroke of luck, the paramedic on duty that day, Neale Smith, was also a climber. Neale’s decision to short-circuit a cliff rescue and abseil with Paul down to a waiting boat almost certainly saved his life.

Despite remaining partially paralysed and unable to speak for many months, Pritchard now describes the accident as the best thing that happened to him, in part because it allowed him to stop climbing. ‘I’ve got about thirty friends and acquaintances who’ve died in the mountains,’ he says. ‘It’s not natural.’

A passionate advocate for disability rights, Pritchard now works for ProjectABLE, an initiative funded by the NDIS. He educates school children about disability and encourages them to chase careers in the sector.

His fifth book is in the pipeline and the next new adventure is never far away.

Paul’s return to the Totem Pole features stunning cinematic footage of the climb, in a magnificently scenic area. [/quote]

9:36:04 AM
ABC news article.

9:05:58 AM
Well, that was all pretty inspiring wasn't it !
9:12:24 AM
I hope you all watched last night; it was truly inspirational.
If you missed it I would highly recommend catching the story on iView.
Paul is a classic case (post injury) of not allowing his injury to define his life.
Rather than lamenting about the things he could no longer do, he asks what can I now do? eg White water rafting, cycling across Tibet etc

Anyone who can say that a serious head injury was the best thing that ever happened to him, is a truly remarkable person. All power to you, Paul.

10:05:34 AM
Available on iView here:

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