Bob Shepton.

Expeditions 2012

Arctic - Tilman again, Greenland and the North West Passage

After crossing the Atlantic from Scotland and completing the long haul up the west coast of Greenland to the Upernavik area, the four South African climbers aboard set about climbing new routes in the Sortehul fjord. They made two first ascents on Red Wall, Flight of the Dodo E4, 6a (British) 400 metres, and Don’t be Gull-able E3, 6a, C1, 300 metres, before undertaking a major big wall new route on Impossible Wall here.

Rock climber on the side of a cliff

Improbability Drive E6, 6b, 850 metres. It took them 9 days to complete, sleeping occasionally on the face on port-a-ledges. It was perhaps a little close and similar to the Belgian/American route of 2010, but it was a superb, technical and major first ascent.

Men in sleeping bags on a portaledge

Next the expedition sailed across to Pond Inlet, north Baffin, in Arctic Canada. Here a pioneering route was made, Bonfire of the Vanities E3, 6a, 280 metres, on difficult rock in a virtually unclimbed area of fjords 40 miles south-west of the Pond Inlet settlement.

Bob and his crew on the stern of Dodo's Delight

The expedition finished by completing the nearly 3000-mile North-West Passage east to west over the top of Canada and America in the small GRP sailing boat Dodo’s Delight. The main entry was gained via Peel Sound, but we were delayed for nearly three days helping Nordwind to try and find their lost anchor after a gale. Fortunately Victoria Strait became ice free allowing fairly easy access to Cambridge Bay. It was a long haul from there to Tuktoyaktuk to Point Barrow, and a very stormy passage down the Chukchi Sea to the Bering Strait, and so to Nome, Alaska, to leave the boat there for the winter. On the whole it had been a ‘good’ ice year.