Doing it Scared

18 years after a catastrophic accident which left him with hemiplegia, climber Paul Pritchard returns to the Totem Pole to find out if he has recovered enough to finish the climb.
Paul Pritchard ascending the Totem Pole - Tasmania 2016



Mountain Equipment

Running time

12 minutes

Country / Nationality


Our Judges say:

What an inspiration what an interesting angle on mental health, disabilities and climbing

Ed Birch Director of Salt-Street productions

Frankly terrifying reflection on how to get back u after things go very, VERY wrong. Touching and insightful.

Paul Hodgson Music Judge

One of British climbing's most loved heroes

Claire Carter Writer, Film Officer for Kendal Mountain Festival, 'Creative Consultant'.

British climber – now resident of Tasmania – Paul Pritchard, was one of the leading climbers and mountaineers of the 1980s and 1990s, renowned for his hard and extremely bold first ascents. In 1998 Paul was abseiling in to climb the Totem Pole in Tasmania when he dislodged a rock with his rope that hit him on the head, leaving him with a severe head injury that he was lucky to survive: “All I wanted to do was go to sleep but I was certain that if I did so it would have been the last sleep I ever made.” The aftermath of the accident left him with hemiplegia, which means he has little feeling or movement in the right side of this body. Despite this disability, Paul’s continued to live a life filled with adventure: "That accident on the Totem Pole was the best thing that ever happened to me.” Eighteen years later Paul returns to the Totem Pole to find out if he has recovered enough to finish the climb. “There are a thousand reasons not to climb a mountain: rock-fall, hypothermia, falling off, avalanche, altitude sickness, severe weather or just the hard work of it. However, there is but one singular reason to climb when you look at it carefully.” This is a film about an extraordinary man on an inspiring life journey, his continuing recovery from a crushing injury and the never waning desire for adventure. This is a film about determination and acceptance, patience and humility, grace, and ultimately, freedom. “Its a very scenic place to have a head injury, that's for sure!” Paul Pritchard

This project became a labour of love the very moment a large group of Paul's friends came together to help out in planning the logistics of the climb. Rummin Productions in association with Ignite Digi filmed the climb as it unfolded from every angle including from the air through the use of drones. After the climb, the Australian National broadcaster picked up the story and filmed some more interviews, producing a half hour of television for an Australian Story program, which aired in July 2016. Thanks to some great artistic collaboration over many months, and a successful crowd funding campaign that helped make it a reality; Rummin Productions have now produced this short film that gives audiences the chance to see Paul go full circle and share in his personal triumph at long last.