Team

Patrick Woodhead Chief Executive Officer

Having been part of the youngest and fastest team to ever reach the South Pole in 2002, Patrick went on to lead the first ever East to West traverse of Antarctica, covering 1850km in a total of 75 days. Outside of the Polar World, he has been on many successful expeditions, summiting unclimbed mountains in Tibet and Kyrgyzstan, kayaking down unchartered rivers in the Amazon and being part of the team to set the fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. In 2015 he broke the record for the fastest traverse of Greenland.

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Robyn Woodhead Chief Operating Officer

After an expedition to Antarctica in 2006, Robyn turned her attention to the other end of the planet and skied the last degree to the north pole. She now combines her polar experience with running the London and South African office with Patrick.  Robyn manages Marketing, Financial, Human Resources, Governmental and client liaison side of the business.  Affable, energetic and organisational skills to put soldier ants to shame, Robyn will be on hand to assist clients throughout their journey. Robyn is an avid global explorer, having travelled to over 90 countries on her last count.

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Emmanuel Pellissier Head Guide

Emmanuel is White Desert’s Head Guide and brings a wealth of experience to the role. He is a certified high mountain guide and an avid climber with many first and second ascents to his name. These include the first ascent of the east face of Cerro Kishtwar (6193m), India in 2015 and the second ascent of the east pillar of Holtanna (Queen Maud Land), Antarctica in 2009. The Cerro Kishtwar expedition was awarded by the 2016 “piolets d’or”. Away from climbing, Emmanuel likes to ski, slack line, high line and practice yoga.

Emmanuel Pellissier
Pierre Muller Field Guide

Pierre is a respected high mountain guide and doctor. He has led trips in Algeria, Kyrgistan, Russia, Greenland and Pakistan. Amongst his greatest achievements are his 2003 winter ascent of the north face of the Matterhorn and his 2007 winter ascent of the north face of the Eigur. Pierre specialises in severe trauma injuries and emergency medication. He holds a sailing licence and speaks French, English, Spanish and German.

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Emmanuel Guy Field Guide

Emmanuel is an experienced and passionate high mountain guide who prides himself on his competence in the service of his professional activities. A keen base jumper, he once attempted to jump from the summit of the Big Tower of Trango in Pakistan. He has embarked on over 20 expeditions including the highly active Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador, the Alps and the Himalayas. Emmanuel is always ready for a new adventure and is there to help others.

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Justine Lindsay Chef

After studying at The Institute of Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch, South Africa, Justine soon moved on to Mercedes AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team and has spent the last few years with them. Travelling around the world with the F1 circus, Justine has had to think on her feet. From getting food deliveries in a tuk-tuk at the Indian Grand Prix, to losing gas and electricity at the Brazil Grand Prix at the precise moment when Michael Schumacher wanted his pasta…there was never a dull moment!

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Matt Botha

Matt is no stranger to exploration and adventure, having embarked on and led many trips into and around Africa. His love for wildlife and conservation combined with his knowledge and survival skills, in the remotest of places, makes him the perfect companion to explore nature in its purest form. Matt has also embarked on some gruelling physical challenges on kayak, foot and bike and recently led a team that summited Mount Kilimanjaro entirely barefoot to raise funds for the Red Cross Children’s Hospital.

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Wendy Guan Camp Assistant

Wendy is a master of several trades – IT engineer, pilot, marketing guru to name a few – and has travelled extensively in China and New Zealand. Having celebrated her 30th birthday by flying over Mt Everest she is also no stranger to adventure travel and, joining the team in 2016, is greatly looking forward to catering to our clients’ needs at Whichaway Camp.

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Mairi Macleod

Mairi grew up in the outer Hebrides. Her appetite for adventure stems from her merchant mariner father and she eagerly followed his footsteps into a life of travel and adventure. She has worked in remote logistics for a wide range of organisations in locations as diverse as Southern Sudan and the South Pole. She also overwintered as the base commander for British Antarctic Survey and we are honoured to have such a wealth of experience at camp.

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Ryan Ashworth

Ryan started his career working in manufacturing, on the technical side of product design, before spending some time travelling around Europe. He soon became an electrical engineer at the City & Guilds of London, which led him to the tunnels of the London Underground where he managed various station refurbishments. Returning to South Africa, Ryan started his own company specialising in high-end renovations, and is now White Desert’s go-to guy for technical advice, building knowledge and general all-round problems.

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Eric Rowberry

Eric is the man you’ll need if anything needs fixing around camp. His experience stems from working in the steaming hot jungles of Equatorial Guinea which might seem like an unlikely fit for Antarctica, but in each location, the need to be resourceful is paramount. Eric loves the outdoors and is incredibly affable and easy going. This will be his second season with White Desert.

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Claire Freebairn

Claire works on the client and media side of the team alongside Robyn in the London and Cape Town offices. In previous incarnations, Claire has managed PR teams, worked for demanding entrepreneurs such as Lord Karan Bilimoria, co-founder of Cobra Beer and, most recently, set up and managed the Family Office of Sir James Dyson, of vacuum cleaner fame. Endlessly cheerful and efficient to the point of scaring those around her, Claire will helps all our clients prepare for their trip South and looks after them while in Cape Town.

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Richard Godden Client & Media Relations Manager

Richard works on client and media relations alongside Robyn in the London and Cape Town offices. Before joining White Desert, Richard spent 8 years working as a travel consultant arranging luxury holidays to Latin America. In his most recent role, he was responsible for managing client treks on the Inca Trail in Peru and yachting in the Galapagos Islands. He holds a Marketing degree and has travelled extensively within South America. Richard helps our clients prepare for their trip South and looks after them while in Cape Town.

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Jolanta Berzina Camp Hostess

Jolanta brings a wealth of experience to her new role as camp hostess. She spent the early part of her career in Norway where she held a number of hospitality positions in top hotels. Having gained a reputation as a highly respected host, she made the move into hotel and human resources management. As well as her native tongue – Latvian, Jolanta speaks fluent English & Norwegian and has a very good grasp of German and Russian.

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Dumisani Sibanda Cape Town Driver

Dumi is our trusted right hand man who takes care of an array of different pre-season assignments whilst in Cape Town. Having been born in Zimbabwe, he had never seen snow before joining White Desert and embarking on a trip to Antarctica. He recalls his time on the ice as being like a dream and certainly an experience of a lifetime.

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Graham Lucas Camp Construction

Graham is South African born and bred. He has worked as a handyman for two seasons and is in charge of camp construction. He is known for being gifted at building anything so remains a vital member of the team out in Antarctica.

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  • The Wedding of our dreams

    “White Desert hosted the wedding of our dreams. They did a fantastic job in making sure our special day turned out to be an amazing experience that we will cherish forever.”

    Mark and Julia McDowell

  • The true meaning of traveling

    “There is so little there, but so much to experience! A place where you can find your own true voice, away from the distractions of the outside world. Where you find the true meaning of traveling. ”

    Alan Chen

  • Beyond my imagination

    “Antarctica was an entry into something that was beyond my imagination. None of the trip's numerous highlights could have come true without the expertise of the team.”

    Fahd Munir

  • A wonderful experience

    "Lovely memories of this adventure. We are recommending it, and White Desert, to family and friends and our travel agent. Thank you for a wonderful experience."

    Philippe and Trudy Bovay

  • Beyond my imagination

    "Blue ice caves, mountains to climb, ice waves etc, throw in penguins and a monumental trip to the South Pole, any other place in the world will be underwhelming."

    Jane Loginova and family