The expedition team — in their own words

Photo Credit:  Peter Hellberg

Paddy Duhig (29 years old)

People often talk ‘pushing yourself to the limit’ – but frankly I’ve never done that, at least not in the truest sense. The reality is that, for most people, there are very few opportunities in life to find out what you are really capable of.

And this is an opportunity that I have avoided for over 6 years now. In 2009 I decided to raise money in support of Autism charities and promptly settled on the idea of the Greenland Ice Cap Crossing as the ultimate challenge – this brutally demanding mental and physical feat of endurance was very much at odds with my pastimes (largely motorsport, rugby, kitesurfing and drinking) and completely outside of my comfort zone (while very much an ‘outdoors’ person having grown up in the Sussex countryside and been Head of the CCF at school, I had never encountered any kind of extreme environment). It was a huge leap into the unknown – and that was ultimately its appeal.

I never completed the training – withdrawing from the expedition team in January 2010, fearing I would not be able to meet the required physical condition by April. I vowed to return the following year but never did – instead committing the intervening years to my career and using the precious little spare time left to travel, mostly to warm climes.

A horrific ankle break in 2014, and the inevitable retrospective that accompanied the slow and painful recovery thereafter, rekindled the idea – being completely contrary to the situation I found myself in. 12 months on I’m in the best all-round physical condition of my life, excited to be taking on a challenge of such enormity, and looking forward to ‘pushing myself to the limit’.

Thanks to James Woodhouse of Woodhouse Mountaineering for keeping this dream alive (and teaching me a few things in the interim), to Steph for renewing the spark and to my employer RBS for allowing me the time to take on this almighty challenge in support of three great charities. 

Photo Credit:  Mitya Ku

Photo Credit: Mitya Ku

Stephanie Nieuwenhoff (28 years old)

As my dad often points out to me, I'm not one to shy away from a challenge - so when Paddy asked me to join this fundraising expedition, I wholeheartedly accepted the invitation. But while working together as a team, I suspect we will face very different individual challenges. 

This time 4 years ago I was a semi-professional hockey player in the Netherlands – training four times a week at a minimum and displaying discipline, passion and a relentless work ethic in everything that was asked of me. After moving to London in the summer of 2012 the structure of my life changed out of necessity - with my hockey career abruptly put aside and without any thought in favour of my new job in finance. In 2013 I joined the South London based club Spencer, and although hockey took something of a back seat to my career, I resume playing and continued to apply myself with similar fervour to succeed. However in February 2015 I suffered a severe break to my finger during a game; following surgery, extensive physiotherapy and a lengthy road to recovery I am now back on the pitch, albeit with a crooked finger.

This expedition will test my physical fitness and mental determination in an entirely different capacity – the sheer duration, extreme temperature and absolute isolation are daunting prospects in and of themselves. But if I’m being completely honest with myself, the ultimate challenge will be that of coping with the silence. As I work through a progressively longer training schedule, I am becoming increasingly curious about where my mind will travel over 32 days in an environment that is simultaneously captivating and desolate.

I will be undertaking the crossing in support of the Winnicott Foundation as thanks for friends who have benefitted from its work (or similar services in the Netherlands) and to ensure that they continue to be there for the many children that have a difficult start in life.

Photo Credit:  dimnikolov

Photo Credit: dimnikolov

David Paabo

Ice Horizons Limited founder and senior guide David Paabo will lead the expedition. Originally from Australia, David has over 20 years of expedition experience around the world, in all types of wilderness environments, and has made extensive expeditions in Greenland including several expeditions on the ice cap, becoming an expert in polar ice cap travel. His particular passion is leading groups across the Greenland ice cap.

David was born in Sydney, Australia. His early childhood adventures in the Blue Mountains and Tasmania cultivated a passion for the outdoors that has stayed with him. Having completed a Law and Economics Degree at the Australian National University, he presently works as a lawyer in Karratha, Australia for Avon Legal, which he manages to balance with his outdoor passions.

David has travelled widely and to many far flung locations where he has cultivated his ambition as an explorer, largely achieving his goals as a solo adventurer or in small groups. In addition to having conducted numerous hiking and canyoning trips in his home country, David has also been involved in many mountaineering and hiking expeditions, most notably in South America where he travelled for 2 years and developed a love for the Andes mountain range, particularly the Cordillera Real in Bolivia, the Colombian National Parks of Cocuy and Los Nevados, and extensive parts of Patagonian Argentina and Chile. During his travels throughout South America, David also completed extremely challenging jungle treks in Bolivia, including the Mapiri Trail, a traverse of Madidi National Park, and a lengthy expedition in Noel Kempff Mercado NP.

David has also successfully undertaken the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea twice, as well as the Kapa Kapa Trail, on each occasion acting as the guide for small groups.  He has hiked extensively through the Carpathian Mountain Range in Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine, as well as the Transylvanian Alps in Romania, and the French/Spanish Pyrenees.

David has a particular love for the wilderness of Greenland and its people, and has explored numerous remote locations on trekking and skiing journeys there, as well as through kayaking trips across various fjords.

David’s other most enjoyed past times include yoga, eating, reading and lazing on tropical beaches.