Homeward Bound co-founder Fabian Dattner shares her excitement about Greg Mortimer signing up for another Homeward Bound Antarctic voyage as Expedition Leader.

It is hard to fathom the impact of this extraordinary man on Homeward Bound 2016, but suffice to say many participants said, if there was nothing other than Greg Mortimer on the ship (and there was a lot of other stuff), it would have been worth coming.

Greg Mortimer, OAM, three Australian Geographic Society medals, best known as one of the first two Australians (with Tim Macartney-Snape) to successfully climb Everest (without oxygen), survived adventures in Antarctica that seem impossible, a trained geochemist and geologist, a survival-training instructor, a scientific affairs adviser to the New Zealand Antarctic Division, leader of over 80 expeditions to Antarctica and expedition leader for the inaugural Homeward Bound expedition, December 2016.

Greg Mortimer gives a safety briefing for Homeward Bound 2016

This list (of which we are a tiny piece) is the tip of the iceberg of what Greg has done. I reckon I’ve heard 10% at best (or read about it).

But none of what I’ve heard or read is Greg the man, Greg the leader.

The privilege of time with this gentle, courageous, slightly naughty, unambiguous expert, who dances across snow like an elf, is hard to explain.

When I asked him whether he would come back for round 2 of Homeward Bound (a huge ask because all the committed time is donated not paid), he came back with half a dozen answers as to why the opportunity should go to someone else. Typical Greg – humble, gentle, firm, kind, generous.

My heart sank. I felt I had squandered my opportunity to know and learn from him.

So, I did what any pig-headed social entrepreneur fighting for a cause would do, I sat down and felt depressed for about two minutes, then I recrafted my email to him and told him why he mattered, what it would mean to the women involved, how unique his contribution was and how much his leadership presence mattered.

I received his ‘yes’ email just as I was about to leave Melbourne for Hobart, Tasmania. I read his response and literally leapt out of my seat and squealed for joy.

I sat down in my chair grinning, tears welling up in my eyes, and said, ‘Simply the best leader I know has just said yes to something really really important’.

For those of you who were on the ship, you know exactly what I mean; you know how hearts will sing when they wake up to “Hello Possums!”; you know how his craft will weave its way through all the choices we make; you know he will smile and play and share stories of his adventures; you know he will check ice flows and wind, and try to find the safest ways to get us where we want to go.

And for those of you coming in 2018? Simply this: one of the greatest privileges of your life lies ahead of you. One man amongst 89 women. But what a man!

Fabian Dattner is the co-founder of Homeward Bound. Read more about Fabian on the ‘Faculty’ page.

(Feaured images by Songqiao Yao)

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