On July 15, expert adventurers Cameron Webb, 37, and Matt McFadyen, 31, will journey to the Arctic Circle in a 17.5-foot rowboat. Over the course of three months, the friends will attempt to navigate the famously ice-choked, 2,000-mile sea route known as the Northwest Passage, an expedition they’re dubbing Beyond The Circle. If they’re successful, they’ll have global warming to thank—a bittersweet reality. “I’ve seen firsthand the significant decline in Arctic Sea ice since my first North Pole expedition in 2005,” says McFadyen, a Mission dweller. “It is tragic.” The expedition is already raising money and awareness for Save Our Shores and the Coastal Watershed Council—two Santa Cruz-based nonprofits bringing awareness to oceans and their pre-carious futures: melting ice caps, rising bodies of water, and disappearing shorelines.
But make no mistake: There are personal agendas at work here. At their cores, Webb and McFadyen—Australia natives who moved to San Francisco a few years ago to pursue careers as motivational speakers for SoMa-based leadership-development company Peak Teams—are serial trailblazers who thrive on harrowing challenges. McFadyen has cross-country skied from the middle of the frozen Arctic Ocean to the North Pole three times—he is the youngest Aussie to complete the feat. Webb’s last big adventure was a solo kayak through Bass Strait, a notoriously turbulent, 150-mile-wide stretch of water between Australia and Tasmania. “But that was four years ago. Since then, I’ve been dedicated to my career helping others achieve their goals,” says the Dogpatch resident. “Now I need something for me.”
On any given day, you can find Webb and McFadyen perfecting their rowing strokes on the bay, running the steps at Coit Tower, cycling the Marin Headlands, or, in case of future encounters with aggressive polar bears, honing their rifle chops at a Morgan Hill gun range. Still, 90 days floating in a small boat through a great icy frontier hardly bodes well for smooth sailing. At best, preparedness is half the battle. But rather than freak out over the unknown, Webb maintains a practical outlook. “Adventure simplifies life down to the essentials,” he says. “And if you’ve got a friend there, even better.”
This article was publsihed in 7x7's May issue. Click here to subscribe.