If you were building the ultimate expedition team, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better candidate than Andrew Peacock from Adelaide, Australia. Why? He’s quite the photographer, as can be seen by the pictures here. Oh, and he might just save your life — after all, he’s a doctor. Read on for a look into his adventures.
RedBull.com: What’s more fun: doctoring or taking pictures?
Andrew Peacock: The thing about being a doctor on an expedition is that you’re only good to anyone when things go wrong, and we don’t want things to go wrong. So in the meantime, I’m a photographer. If I'm not actively treating someone, I’m shooting photos.
A Penguin show
Which came first?
I did a year of residency in general surgery in Santa Barbara, California, and at the end of the year I did a weekend rock climbing course, and that was the end of my "traditional" medical career. I decided to be a climbing bum. I wasn’t a particularly good climber, but it grabbed my attention. I’d been a competitive flat-water kayaker, and the physical side of things was important and so too was learning such a fun new skill. I also started to shoot a lot more around then.
On top of Mount Cook
Climbing led to a greater interest in being in the mountains, and I found ways to combine medicine and being in the mountains. I volunteered in Nepal for the Himalayan Rescue Association where I learned a lot about altitude illness. Ever since, I keep finding ways to combine medicine with outdoor pursuits, such as teaching expedition and wilderness medicine in Australia, Antarctica, New Zealand and, later this year, on a trip to the Galapagos Islands.
The Ilulissat Glacier
What’s your perfect job?
A couple of years ago, I went to East Antarctica as the member of an expedition team as the doctor. It was interesting. The Australasian Antarctic expedition was researching the environment compared with the original expedition, 100 years earlier. An unexpected breakout of ice locked us in — even this very powerful ship could go nowhere. You don’t realize how quickly huge areas become clogged with ice. You have to sit and accept your fate and wait for the weather to change and the ice to move!
Ice in the Antarctic
What things do you usually deal with as a doc?
The majority of the stuff I deal with is coughs and colds, sprains and rashes, stitches. ... It’s not a terribly exciting life, medically. I’ve just gotten off an 18-day trip through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River. I managed sunburn, cuts and scrapes on the feet.
One of the more significant problems I've dealt with is high-altitude pulmonary or cerebral edema, where evacuation is necessary, and it can be quite dangerous. Wilderness medicine is about prevention, not cure; having all the stuff ready, and hoping not to use it.
The Kokoda Track
Are you always in cold places?
No. One trip I love is the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea. I wasn't that excited about doing a jungle hike, but I really enjoyed it. The picture above is one of the few places you get an open view, however. You’re usually in thick trees.
Healing the wounded
Is it quite remote?
Yeah, that’s why I’m treating the little boy in the picture. He had a nasty ulcerated wound and someone brought him to me for treatment. The villages there don’t have great health care from the government. You do what you can do to improve the situation right away, but unfortunately you have to move on.
Amazing New Zealand
We hear you love New Zealand.
You can be on the lake in Queenstown in the morning and climbing an alpine summit not far away that afternoon — that’s New Zealand. Half of the reason I got this image was because I wasn't keen on traversing that knife-edge ridge on a windy, windy day — sometimes photography can be a great excuse to hang back! This is midwinter, and it was a beautiful day despite the wind.
Have you met my friend?
Who’s this grumpy guy?
He’s an elephant seal. It’s a popular image for good and bad reasons. Some people think it’s gross, other people think it’s like an old man looking at you. It’s hanging on the walls of a few dentistry offices in Australia, for good reasons!
Where did the kayak come from?
OK, last one — please tell us what’s happening here.
He didn’t fall out of a tree! The kayaker launched off a ski-jump ramp, pulled an aerial trick and landed in the water in one piece. I was shooting from below the ramp.