BUSY WOMAN: Krystal Wright is off to Alaska.
BUSY WOMAN: Krystal Wright is off to Alaska. Warren Lynam

Adventurer gets a break from danger in Antarctica

KRYSTLE Wright has perfected the art of packing her entire life into a bag.

The Eudlo-based adventure photographer has spent the past two years visiting almost 25 countries, earning a living by snapping extreme-sports athletes while BASE jumping, mountain biking, surfing and rock climbing.

The 26-year-old recently returned from her latest stint in Antarctica, where she spent the summer working as a photographer guide with Quark Expeditions, an organiser of trips from Argentina to the Antarctic Peninsular.

Ms Wright would take wide-eyed tourists on an inflatable rigid boat through an iceberg graveyard, and treks along the icy trails of the peninsula, teaching them to see life through the lens.

While the job entailed some close encounters with the local penguins and even a minke whale, which came in close to satisfy its curiosity one day, it was a relatively tame way for Ms Wright to spend three months.

If the adrenaline junkie had her way, she would be climbing icebergs to capture priceless images of sun-soaked peaks.

from the Antarctic Peninsula shows an archway destined to fall.
from the Antarctic Peninsula shows an archway destined to fall. Contributed

 

"It is a bit of a break as I have to keep the safety of our passengers as the top priority and makes you appreciate things in a different way," she said.

"I do get a little stir crazy though. I love pushing the boundaries, and what I do for the rest of the year has no limitations except for what you can handle physically and mentally."

Those limits will be well and truly challenged when Ms Wright embarks on her next adventure - a two-and-a-half month all-female kayaking expedition to paddle the length of the Amur River from Alaska to Russia.

The American team she is to photograph includes one of the National Geographic Young Explorers grant recipients and will be the second group to ever take on one of the world's largest rivers - at a staggering 4200km long.

The possibility of her work being published in the prestigious magazine delights Ms Wright, who is the only female adventure photographer on National Geographic's radar.

Her last attempt at filing for the magazine in 2011 ended in a long stay in a military hospital in Pakistan.

While she filmed a group of Red Bull-sponsored paragliders attempting to break the world altitude record in the Karakoram Range of north Pakistan, her tandem paraglider was hit by a strong crosswind and crashed into the side of a mountain.

Her injuries - including fractured bones, damaged tendons, and 10 stitches in a gash above her left eye - left her unable to complete the assignment.

It has taken her two years

to find a story worthy of pitching to the editors and she is determined to see this adventure through to the end.

While spending a couple of weeks catching up with friends and family on the Sunshine Coast, Ms Wright has had the chance to contemplate the challenge ahead before departing for Alaska on Thursday.

"A friend told me I could lose up to 10kg during the trip as we will be living and breathing kayaking 24/7 and camping beside the river," she said.

"I don't know where that will come from - right now I only weigh about 69kg."

Aside from a right shoulder injury, which can be attributed to constantly carrying heavy camera equipment, Ms Wright feels like she is on track to handle the physical demands of the job.

"There are so many other things we had to take into consideration for the journey," she said.

"There is one section of the river that borders China and Russia that we will have to skip entirely because the political situation is quite heavy.

"We were told we would need $50,000 in bribery money just to get through it so we thought it safer to skip that section."

Never one to rest on her laurels, Ms Wright will then head to France to join another all female group on a rock climbing and free diving exploration trip in the Mediterranean.

She said her transient life

style had become a little hectic and her possessions were spread across the globe.

"There is no time to come back to Australia and unpack and re-pack each time," she said. "I have mountaineering gear in California, kayaking gear in Argentina - some equipment has already been sent to Alaska for this next trip."

For someone who has achieved so much in such a short space of time, Ms Wright says there are still a few things she wants to cross off her bucket list.

Her top priorities include completing the Pakistan assignment and making the top 50 of the Red Bull Illume - an international adventure-photography competition.

The next is to find ways to explore more of Europe and Africa and continue to show up the guys in the male-dominated industry.

IN A WORLD OF WHITE AND BLUE: Antarctica’s wildlife and dramatic scenery offer great opportunity for the passionate photographer.
IN A WORLD OF WHITE AND BLUE: Antarctica’s wildlife and dramatic scenery offer great opportunity for the passionate photographer.

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