THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY - HONG KONG
"A Mountaineer's Odyssey"
Monday, 23 February 2009
2/F Olympic House, So Kong Po, Causeway Bay
Drinks Reception 6.30 pm; Lecture 7.30 pm
We are delighted to welcome to Hong Kong Paul Pritchard, one of the world's great rock climbers, to Hong Kong. Mr. Pritchard pioneered many of the world's most famous rock climbs but, as he approached the peak of his career, was severely injured but, through an extraordinary "Mountaineer's Odyssey", has now returned to the mountains. In this inspiring talk, he features several of his most serious and famous climbs in awe-inspiring detail and reflects on the lessons he has learned from his climbing, his journey into disability and subsequent return.
Mr. Pritchard began climbing in the gritstone quarries around Lancashire, England in 1983. He soon brought new levels of boldness to Lancashire. From his Lancashire base, Mr Pritchard moved to North Wales and Llanberis, a Mecca of rock climbing. By 1986, he had made a name for himself by climbing many extremely bold ascents on the sea and mountain cliffs of Snowdonia, developing his skill and techniques further. The vast potential for new climbs in the slate quarries there was only just being realised. Here he made early notable repeats and added his own crop of now famous new routes. However, it was upon the sea cliffs of Gogarth that Mr Pritchard truly left his mark: amongst his many routes were 'Super Calabrese' (E8) and 'Unrideable Donkey' (E7). His most important British climb was the first free ascent of the Doug Scott climb, 'The Scoop' on Sron Ulladale, the Isle of Lewis. This is now regarded as the most challenging climb in the United Kingdom.
In 1990, he began big-wall mountaineering that would take him to the Indian Himalaya, the Karakorum, Patagonia, Baffin Island, The Pamirs and the American Rockies and brought world-wide fame. In 1990, Mr Pritchard made the first free climb of the Spanish Pillar on Bhagirathi III, Gangotri, India. This was followed by the groundbreaking 'boltless' first ascent of 'El Regalo De Mwoma' (1,200m, A4, E4) on East face of Central Tower of Paine, Patagonia and the all free first ascent of 'El Caballo De Diablo' (600m, E5) on the North Tower of Paine. He then enjoyed nine months mountaineering all around South America.
In 1993, Mr Pritchard made unsuccessful attempts on The East Face of Cerro Torre, Patagonia and the still unclimbed Meru Shark Fin. However, the following year his name was made with a new route on the legendary El Capitan, Yosemite and the first ascent of the West Face of Mount Asgard on Baffin Island, a huge wall which took 11 days to climb, sleeping nightly hanging from his climbing ropes. This was followed by an alpine style ascent of Trango Tower in the Karakorum, in 1995, and the first ascent of 'The Wall of Dykes' (1200m E5) in the Ak-Su Valley, Kyrgyzstan.
In 1997, he won the Boardman Tasker Award for mountain literature, the most prestigious in the profession, 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' - a sheer faced rock tower of 60m but only 3m diameter. On the climb, he was hit by large boulder, falling from 25 meters, which knocked him from the Pole, and disabled him for several years.
The book of these events, The Totem Pole, however, won Mr Pritchard an unprecedented second Boardman Tasker Award and a Banff Mountain Book Festival Grand Prize. He is now rock climbing again and, in 2005, was part of an all disabled ascent of Kilimanjaro, the subject of the Bamff Prize nominated book Longest Climb. Mr Pritchard is now rock climbing, tricycle racing, white water rafting, sea kayaking and raising a family in Tasmania.
Mr. Pritchard was born and educated in the Country Palatine of Lancashire, England. He moved to North Wales in his twenties and has been voyaging the world climbing ever since. He now resides with his family in the countryside of Tasmania.
Members and their guests are most welcome to attend this lecture, which is HK$100 for Members and HK$150 for guests and others.