Greg Mortimer: What travel has taught me

CIVILITY

I've become enamoured with travelling in Japan. Along with the quiet, self-effacing attention to detail, their simple etiquette of bowing is a powerful reminder that we must meet every human with civility and graciousness.

OPENNESS

I've come to learn that no matter where you travel in the world, a big open smile will always be the key to opening doors and warm hearts. Over my 20 years on business in Russia, where locals are often renowned for their stern facial expressions, I began to notice how disarmed people became by respectful, open-hearted honesty and a welcoming smile. We should be deeply proud of the openness and warmth of our Australian spirit.

FRAILTY

Travelling across Tibet with Tim Macartney-Snape in 1984, en route to becoming the first Australians to climb Mount Everest, I felt immense appreciation for how challenging it must be for Tibetans to live in the thin air of their elevated plateau. Two months later, at the summit, I looked up to see a deep inky blue sky. It felt like we were standing on the edge of outer space. Back in the safety of base camp I was in a near catatonic state, exhausted by the intense, thin air of altitude. If Everest were a little bit higher, we probably couldn't get to its summit. It really hit me how delicately designed we are to survive within our own atmosphere. Everest taught me how very frail we are and how silly we would be to keep messing with our delicate atmosphere.

COLLABORATION

For the last two summers I have travelled to Antarctica alongside female leaders from around the world as part of the 10-year Homeward Bound program, a leadership initiative that aims to heighten the influence and impact of women in making decisions that shape our planet. Travelling alongside these incredible leaders, I learnt how naturally women collaborate to overcome challenges and solve big problems, and how bright the future will look when more females are in positions of power.

CONTENTMENT

For 30 years I travelled to the world's most remarkable places, co-founding Aurora Expeditions with my beloved wife, Margaret, to embark on voyages to the polar regions and expeditions into far-flung, rugged landscapes. However, to this day, I still get a tingle of joy every single time I head between the sandstone cliffs that frame the valley of our little farm. If travel has taught me one thing, it's to truly appreciate the value and contentment of home. To return from an epic adventure and think, gee, it's good to be back.

Greg Mortimer was the first Australian to reach the summits of Mount Everest, K2, and other challenging peaks without supplementary oxygen as well as mounts Vinson and Minto in Antarctica. With Margaret Mortimer, he pioneered adventure cruising to Antarctica and the Arctic. This year, a new ship named the Greg Mortimer is sailing in Antarctica. The purpose-built, polar expedition vessel sets a new level in luxury and environmental sensitivity. See auroraexpeditions.com.au

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