In the Llanberis Pass first ascents included the bold and burly Surgical Lust (E7 6b) and King Wad (E6 6b) on the Scimitar Ridge. The first free ascent of The Scoop (E7 6b) and Knuckle Sandwich (E7 6b), both in Strone Ulladale, Scotland, also stand out during these years. Paul also spent a lot of time in Europe experimenting with sport climbing and then six months climbing in the deserts of the southwest U.S.
In 1990 Paul began mountaineering and pursued some of the most challenging lines around the world, including first ascents on the Torre Central del Paine in Patagonia and the West Face of Mount Asgard on Baffin Island.
In December 1991, Paul, along with Noel Crane, Sean Smithe and Simon Yates, established a new route on the 1200m East Face of Central Tower in the Torre de Paine, Patagonia, El Regalo de Mwoma (VI, 5.10, A4). In the months that followed Paul established several new routes in Patagonia with Phillip Lloyd, including the 600m El Caballo de Diablo (5.12a) on the North Tower— the first alpine-style free climb in the Paine—and Planet Earth to Pisco Control (5.12a) on Paine Chico, both of which pointed to the future of difficult alpine routes. Paul continued to climb in South America for eight months after this, establishing new routes in Argentina, big wall routes in the Brazilian forests and undertaking solos of 6000m peaks in Bolivia.
In 1993 Paul made an attempt on East face of Cerro Torre, Argentina, and made the first ascent of Corn Wall on North Tower of Paine. He also established new routes in Karnataka, India, and made an unsuccessful bid to summit the Meru Sharks Fin in Gangotri, reaching 6300m.
The following year he focussed his attention on North America, making the first ascent of Adrift (5.10 A4) on El Capitan, in Yosemite, and then the first ascent of Hyperborea (A4) on the West face of Mount Asgard, Baffin Island. In 1995, with Adam Wainright, Paul climbed the Trango Tower, in the Karakorum, Pakistan, via the Slovenian Route in alpine style.
In 1996 Paul established what would be, although unbeknownst to him, his last new routes at Gogarth, most notably Sign of The Sun Dog (E5 6b) and 93,000,000 Miles (E4 5c). In 1997 Paul made the first ascent of The Wall of Dykes, an all-free climb in the Ak-Su Valley, Kyrgyzstan.
Also in 1997 Paul published his first book, Deep Play, recounting the 'dole climber' scene and the time he lived in Llanberis pursuing wild adventures on Gogarth's sea-cliffs and developing the Dinorwig slate quarries. The book was awarded the prestigious Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature that year and Paul used the prize money to continue his climbing around the world.