This Doctor Prescribes Incredible Adventure Photos

Andrew Peacock is as handy with a camera as he is with a stethoscope.
Andrew Peacock, adventure doctor, pops out of a submarine
Andrew Peacock on a polar expedition © Andrew Peacock
By Josh Sampiero

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. 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 struts his stuff for photographers on the South Pole
Penguins performing © Andrew Peacock

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.

Andrew Peacock, adventure doctor, and crew on the summit of Mt Cook, New Zealand.
On the summit of Mt Cook in New Zealand © Andrew Peacock

On top of Mount Cook

And then?

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.

Eyeing the impressive glaciers of Greenland
Nothing like a glacier ice to make you feel small © Andrew Peacock

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!

Blades of ice in the Antarctic
Blades of ice in the Antarctic © Andrew Peacock

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.

A rare bit of open air on the Kokoda Track
On the trail in Papa New Guinea © Andrew Peacock

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.

Andrew Peacock treats an injured boy in Papua New Guinea
Andrew Peacock hard at work in Papua New Guinea © Tom Scheid

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.

Snow on top of New Zealand
Mt Cook in New Zealand © Andrew Peacock

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.

Staring down an elephant seal
Elephant seals are funny-looking © Andrew Peacock

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!

A penguin struts his stuff for photographers on the South Pole
That kayak is coming from... where? © Andrew Peacock

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.

See more of Peacock's photography on his Facebook page or his Instagram. Planning an expedition and need a doc? Give him a shout.

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