Phil is exactly who we mean when we talk about Zero Heroes. Phil was 65 years old in December last year when he climbed The Moai, one of the most famous of Tasmania’s huge coastal spires. A chance meeting with a German tourist at the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo on the Tasman Peninsula led Phil on a path of dedication and determination, in memory of his late sister Karina (Hallam) Woolley.
The president of the Hobart Photography Society, Phil originally joined Ulla Lohmann and her partner Sebastian to photograph them as they took on Cape Hauy’s Totem Pole, another iconic spire near Fortescue Bay.
Describing the experience of being harnessed to a rock face, photographing such amazing feats he said:
“I was in awe of their courage and ability. I thought to myself “There’s no way I’d ever do something like that”, but a few days later, I began to think that I’d like to try”.
After his sister Karina passed away from breast cancer, Phil wanted to do something extraordinary to honour her memory. He wrote an email to Ulla, an email that he didn’t send for a couple of weeks. It suggested that, though he was scared of heights and had never climbed before, that he’d like to climb the Moai with Ulla’s guidance and support. Finally he sent it, and to his great surprise, Ulla agreed.
Phil’s preparations for his adventure were thorough. He was given free entry to a Hobart rock climbing gym and for seven months he did just that. It was a daunting challenge and Phil had to do a “lot of work on my head” to enable him to stay calm and focused during the climb.
The day of the challenge finally arrived and Phil and his support team went by boat to Bivouac Bay. He climbed to the summit and abseiled down again in his NBCF singlet and pink helmet, even growing his moustache to represent the men who are diagnosed with breast cancer, two per day in Australia.
Ulla was present for climb, filming and photographing the event to create a short film about Phil’s efforts that you can watch here.
Phil’s courage and dedication were incredible but his fundraising was equally impressive. He had an initial fundraising target of $10,000, a figure he left on the ground far below as he surpassed $18,000 and stood triumphant at the top of the Moai. “99% of donations were made by people who know me” he said.
It was important to Phil to do ‘something of his own accord’, he was proud that he did something so challenging to honour his sister Karina:
“getting out of your comfort zone can lead to great things” – Phil, NBCF Zero Hero.
Zero Heroes like Phil enable NBCF to fund innovative breast cancer research that will improve outcomes & quality of life for those affected by breast cancer. We’re in awe of his achievement.
Join Phil and become a Zero Hero today.
Photographs by Ulla Lohmann & Jenny Schorta used with permission.