He has mostly chosen everyday replaceable objects, yet for Steve they have a value in their memories and his respect for situations where he describes “life hanging by a thread”. He functions on calm channelled adrenaline; a lifetime’s experience of surviving extremes and then putting that to good use as he now guides and manages expeditions to Antarctica.
Avalanches, crevasses, the African bush, deep gulleys, glaciers, thinning ice, jungle; he seems drawn to it all. He got lucky and survived many near misses which means he is in an exclusive club of being able to guide others away from danger whilst experiencing the wonders of these hostile environments.
Steve’s first object is ‘Exploration’, a game from the early 1970s that he played with his siblings.
“I still have it and looking back, I guess it was an influence on me as a boy growing up on the island of Guernsey,” explains Steve. “There were natural wonders and history to explore in a world beyond our island home. It is hard to quantify these influences, but I am really attached to this game.”
Emergencies throw up opportunities
After the IRA Bishopsgate bomb in the City of London in 1993 Steve was sent off by his bosses with a hard hat to retrieve some essential company information. Whilst picking his way through twisted steel and glass he also retrieved his Swiss Army knife.
“It is well worn, but it’s been on every polar and mountaineering expedition with me,” says Steve. “Emergencies throw up opportunities as well as problems and how individuals, teams and companies respond is fascinating. I learned a lot from this that I have applied to safety planning on expeditions ever since.”
Shining a light
Which story will Steve tell us about linked to his Petzl headtorch in the 1980s?
Climbing the North Face of La Tour Ronde (a mountain in the French Alps) and falling down the descent. On an expedition to the Karakoram when he and two friends had a notable near miss with a boulder the size of a car in a gully the size of a bus. Or a close encounter with a lioness by torchlight at Chidlambani, Gonarezhou National Park.
“She was hunting, I had a Swiss Army knife, and some wildlife training which saved my life.”
Tools of his trade
Steve talks about other objects that help us to get a glimpse into his adventurous world, like his Canon EOS1 camera. “The most robust and best weather-sealed SLR Canon made, perfect for expedition and adventure use. A 35 mm film camera from the era before digital. I had one and it went everywhere – to the North and South Poles, and many places between.”
His Fisher Space Pen is a small easily lost biro that works everywhere, even in space. The pen that has written every journal, log and diary of Steve’s travels. Written on location, he has filled forty black notebooks to date, including recording the day he organised the rescue of Meagan McGrath from a crevasse in Antarctica
The pen is a prompt to the three days and nights of mountain rescue which he initiated and managed on the highest mountain in Antarctica – listen and subscribe to find out more.
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