As head of the Polar Academy as well as having many years experience in the military and as a mountaineer, Craig has expedition experience in both Arctic and Antarctic regions. Having established ‘The Polar Academy’, a project aimed at the youth of Scotland which will instil confidence and self-belief through participation on polar expeditions.
Expedition to summit unclimbed peaks in Greenland.
Manhauling expedition to eastern Greenland.
Successfully led the first dedicated Scottish Expedition to the South Pole, man-hauling his sledge 730 miles over the Antarctic Continent.
Greenland manhauling expedition.
Successfully led an expedition to the Geographical North Pole, taking a 16 year old boy as part of his team.
Leader of the ‘Northern Lights’ sea kayaking expedition on the east coast of Greenland.
Leader of expedition to West Greenland.
Advisor to HM Forces regarding Polar training and guiding.
Established the Polar Academy.
Appointed ‘Explorer-in-Residence’ by Royal Scottish Geographical Society.
MIC, IML, BASI
Expeditions to far flung places, base commander for the Island of South Georgia for a few months in 1982, two trips to Everest reaching 8000m without oxygen three times! Summiting Pung Pa Ri 7,500m in Tibet (second ascent and a new route). A ski crossing of Greenland following Nansen’s original route, Chief Instructor of the British Mountain Training Centre in Norway and Head of Training Glenmore Lodge.
Greenland and Norway for their remoteness and solitude in winter on Nordic skis.
My cross country skis – or any super lightweight hill kit that lets me journey far but comfortably.
A selection of gloves/mitts, camera, and unfortunately glasses so I can operate all the gizmos we carry these days and to read the map of course.
Being self sufficient and the concept of A to B journeying in remote and beautiful mountain scenery.
Hut to hut ski tour anywhere in the mountains of Norway I have not yet been to, with 21 National Parks and 128 peaks over 2000m there is plenty yet to explore.
“Success is not counted by how high you have climbed but by how many people you have taken with you.”
Born in Edinburgh, George attended Lathallen School, in the North East of Scotland throughout his primary years. He returned to his home town for secondary education, at Merchiston Castle School, where he developed a passion and aptitude for rugby. Academic studies were never his strong point! Subsequently, he went on to study Mineral Surveying & Resource Management at Exeter University. Later, Sergeant MacHardy, pursued a rewarding career in the Royal Marines. Deployments included two tours of Afghanistan, where he received a Commendation for Distinguished Service, from the Joint Chief of Operations. After specialising as a Mountain Leader, George gained over a decade of experience in teaching various aspects of mountaineering, navigation, rock climbing, ice climbing, and cold environment survival skills. He himself lucky to instruct in a variety of environments, including the Swiss Alps, Albanian Mountains, American Rockies, The United Arab Emirates, Arctic Norway, Cornwall’s sea cliffs, the Welsh mountains, and of course, in countless locations throughout Scotland.
Since retiring from the Royal Marines, George has pursued a career as a freelance expedition leader and instructor, working both in the UK and overseas. His business, MacHardy Mountain Journeys, was established with the ambition of providing people from all walks of life with a memorable, positive experience. George has a strong belief that exposure to nature and the elements, along with physical exertion, is greatly beneficial for both the body and mind. 2021 will be George’s 4th year with the Polar Academy, and each season he feels really fortunate to be working with such an inspiring charity. Seeing the remarkable growth of the children over the year, as they gain confidence becoming true artic explorers is humbling.
MIA trained, Winter ML, Mountain Ski Leader.
Getting accepted for my traineeship at Lagganlia Outdoor Centre, getting on the Instructor Development Scheme at Glenmore Lodge and working as a freelancer at the Lodge. Going on expeditions to developing countries such as Nicaragua and Peru. Doing my first winter climb and my first ‘black’ mountain bike route and last but not least, mountain biking in Torridon on a beautiful weekend!
Anywhere with a challenging landscape and company, be it water, snow, jungle or mountains. The Rocky Mountains in Canada are up there but the North West Highlands are a pretty special place to be too (when there’s a gentle breeze!).
Synthetic belay jacket.
My phone for a camera and the mapping software, spare food and a head torch.
People who are always challenging themselves, friends with fun and enthusiasm, the sunshine, winter wonderlands.
Biking and climbing in the Lofoten Islands, climbing in Morocco and a wedding!
“A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor” and “Think happy thoughts!”
I am an anaesthetic trainee in South East Scotland, currently working in Edinburgh. Prior to studying medicine, I worked as a Sport Physiologist at the Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Sheffield, with sports ranging from boxing to disability athletics. Having developed an interest in the outdoors through childhood holidays in Wester Ross, Scottish Highlands, I have climbed during both summer and winter in the UK, Norway, France, Russia and Morocco, with notable ascents including Mt Blanc, and Mt Maudit via the Kuffner Arete. I have travelled or worked throughout Europe, the USA, Africa, and Central and South East Asia. I am a keen runner, particularly over longer distances having completed the Paddy Buckley Round in North Wales, and Ironman France in 2009. Other interests include ski touring, sea kayaking and mountain biking. When energy reserves run low, I can be found fishing for either trout or salmon in the Borders.
Event Doctor, Matterhorn Medical. Various UK locations.
Rescue Post Doctor, International Porter Protection Group rescue post, Machermo, Kumbu Region, Nepal.
Deputy medical officer, Western Beacons Mountain Search and Rescue Team, South Wales, UK.
Expedition Leader, Elbrus Dragon medical research trip to Mt Elbrus, Russia.
Diploma in Mountain Medicine (DiMM) – UIAA / ICAR / ISMM
MBBCh – University of Wales Medical School, UK
MSc, Sport and Exercise Physiology – Sheffield Hallam University, UK
BSc, Sport and Exercise Science – Sheffield Hallam University, UK
Joining the Polar Academy team as part of a long-term Napier University study into the positive outcomes of the participants, their families and community.
Scott holds BA and MSc degrees from the University of Strathclyde, was trained by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist, is an EMT- Wilderness (R C of Surg. Edinburgh/ WEMSI) and Mountain Leader.
He is a Lecturer in Exercise Physiology and Health at Edinburgh Napier University and has worked with a number of World Record Holders, International Race (Top Ten World Ranking) winners, title contenders and prepared individuals and groups for activities on six continents including The North Pole, Jungles including Brunei, Belize and Amazon, Deserts including Sahara, Gobi, Namib and numerous other events.
Within Sports Medicine Scott has a research interest in the Psychological and Physiological determinants of elite performance in extreme environments with particular emphasis in Arctic and Desert conditions, elite soldier performance and Ergogenic Aids.
Luke, alongside his wife Hazel, is an 'Explorer-in-Residence' at the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. Having explored many corners of the planet and worked in the low carbon energy sector, Luke is also passionate about the environment and making a difference to climate change.
Overcoming obstacles and turning fear into an opportunity is something Luke believes in passionately thanks to his own personal experiences.
In 2016, less than two years after undergoing brain surgery and with an artificial pacemaker, Luke became the youngest Brit, the first Scot and one of less than 20 people in history to ski 730 miles solo and unsupported to the South pole.
Hazel, who is an 'Explorer in Residence' for the Royal Scottish Geographical Society alongside her husband Luke, passionately believes in the physical and mental benefits of being active and adventurous in the outdoors as well as the importance of teamwork.
She has a love for anything that takes her outdoors, including back-country skiing, mountain biking and long-distance multi-day ultra-marathons.
In 2016, she ran a 140-mile Ice Ultra on snowshoes in Arctic Sweden and the very first 250-mile Cape Wrath Ultra through the beautiful and remote west coast of Scotland. In 2017, she completed the 156-mile Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert.
Together with her husband Luke, she also spent 75 days kayaking and biking over 1600 miles through one of the world's last great frontiers; Alaska.
With a background in geophysics, Hazel has 8 years’ experience in the low carbon energy industry and develops strategic projects to help the UK meet its climate change targets. Her talks also explore how we can all make a difference to climate change.
Richard Smith, PhD, studied as an astrophysicist, moved into Information Technology and served with the Royal Marines Reserve and the Special Boat Service. Having brushed shoulders with cancer in 2000 and 2005, he made a couple of re calculations on the track his life was heading, and decided to jump the corporate ‘rat race’ ship he was at that time sailing, and disappeared around the world for half a year to have a ‘wee’ think about what to do next. Returning home he started up a friendly and successful luxury motorhome rental business https://motorhomeescapes.co.uk/ in the beautiful country of Scotland, where he lives just outside Edinburgh. Always keen to share what Scotland has to offer to youngsters and visitors from all around the world, he has always been a passionate outdoors man, never more happy than sea kayaking off the west coast of Scotland, or trekking and climbing the peaks of the Scottish Highlands. He has climbed, trekked or kayaked in Alaska, Greenland, Nepal, the French Alps, and explored the jungles of Belize and the deserts of Oman.
“2021 was my first year guiding for the Polar Academy. I have been blown away by the transformation of the young people involved towards confident, capable, ambitious individuals with superb (and often wicked !) sense of humours. Very rewarding to see how graduates have grown in themselves and continue to deliver messages of positivity and “can do” attitude as they have move into further education or career paths of their own. I can’t wait to aid the next group of young adults participating in the Academy and watch as they progress and develop into confident, skilled young explorers and use the skills they have learned in any walk of life they choose.”
Eating, being with my kids, eating, being in the great outdoors, eating.
Kayaking and walking on the West Coast of Scotland. Returning after an active day to my warm motorhome, and then eating.
Anything ! It’s about the quantity, more so than the quality. Anything that fills me up !
Alex is an emergency medicine doctor training in Bristol. She has interests in expedition and wilderness medicine, and global health. She spent 18 months working in New Zealand and since then has worked as an expedition medic in Antarctica, Africa, Costa Rica, the Amazon, Fiji and South-east Asia. Her favourite expeditions are those that give young explorers the opportunity to challenge themselves and grow in self-confidence, because it was a similar experience that set her on her current life track!
She enjoys teaching wilderness medicine and has completed Diplomas in Expedition and Wilderness Medicine and Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. She is currently working towards a Global Health Masters with a dissertation looking into the care of local expedition participants on Kilimanjaro.
She is a keen skier, cyclist and hillwalker and dabbles in rock-climbing and mountain biking. She holds summer mountain leader award.
Arran is a former Polar Academy graduate who is now back with us as a Trainee Guide and will be heading to Greenland on our latest expedition at the end of March.
Craig, aka Stovie, was brought up in South Lanarkshire learning to shoot, fish and explore nature from an early age with friends and family. After leaving University he spent time in the Territorial Army as well hiking and exploring, culminating in successfully persuading his future wife to honeymoon on a self-led trek through the Annapurna region of Nepal.
More adventures followed with fell running and adventure racing, and when two sons came along, Craig became actively involved in Scouting - first as Scout Leader then Group Scout Leader with his local troop. Much of this time was spent leading bushcraft, hill and water-based activities at troop and district level. He is part of the Bushscout UK team, training scout leaders and young people in bushcraft skills. Craig has also spent time leading expeditions to Greenland and Sweden over the last few years.
When not in the woods, Craig is a full-time biologist having trained in physiology, pharmacology, and biochemistry, and has spent his career in clinical research.
Why ‘Stovie'? As well as researching and making his own historical outdoor kit, Craig also collects and refurbishes vintage camping stoves!