An Audience with ….the Pritch

Years ago now, back in the early 1990s I was just getting into rock climbing. I lived in  Bournemouth and had to order in to my local newsagents a copy of On The Edge, High and Bumbler and stumbler. Thats right there were three magazines at the time, and the internet was in its infancy so no UKC.

It was OTE that always caught my eye it was young, fresh and slightly more edgy than the other magazines. One regular columnist was Paul Pritchard, whose writings on the Slate quarries, gogarth and big walling truly inspired me to climb. When it came to choose a university I knew where I wanted to go, Bangor, North Wales.

Whilst there I too started on the path to become the climber I am today, which whilst never as world class as Paul or other climbers. I have still managed to find new routes on Slate, Gogarth and on Big Walls. His first book Deep Play is made up of a few of those early stories from OTE plus a few others. If you haven’t read it I suggest you go buy a copy as it was re-released by Vertabrate Publishing this year.

Last night Paul gave a talk at the Heights which has changed drastically since he was last climbing here. In those early days I was in Llanberis the fabled lock ins happened, you’d come out wrecking of smoke, quite literally blind drunk and emerge onto the high street in the wee small hours of the morning. A million miles from the near London priced, smoke free watering hole it is today.

It is always good to see the Pritch talk on what can only be described as home soil, although he has spent a lot of time living away since his accident. As there are usually several people who remember the stories and correct his wanton bravado. As such if you grew up in the 1990s then the back room of the heights was a who’ who of 80/90 Llanberis rock climbing culture.

The room was packed and Paul gave a great and inspiring talk on life prior to and post traumatic brain injury. As well as showing a film about his latest adventure to cycle across the Himalayas past Everest Base camp. Not a bad effort for someone who suffers from hemiplegia. The talk hopefully raised some money for LMRT.

Anyway for me it is always interesting to see some of the climbers who inspired me when I was starting out climbing. It also makes me think about the next generation. Those who have Leo, Caff, Callum, Bullock, Finlay and others to look to for inspiration. There certainly seems to be more focus on training and athleticism than Paul’s writing ever suggested! Whether thats a good or bad thing I will guess we will have to wait and see.


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