Bob Shepton.

Expeditions 2015

Return from Greenland  Another successful expedition, though perhaps somewhat muted compared with previous years in Greenland, but which succeeded in both its main objectives. The plan was to sail the boat from Sisimiut, where it had been left ashore for the winter, and sail south down the west coast of Greenland climbing new routes on the way, before bringing the boat back across the Atlantic to Scotland. My crew this time were the Mild Bunch – non-professional ‘ordinary’ climbers. They did show that there were new routes to be made by ordinary climbers in Greenland, making a number of not quite so hard first ascents in the lower extreme grades on shorter routes as we wended south. I did sometimes hope though that they would be a little more ambitious for the sake of climbing new routes! There were two glorious exceptions to this, both longer and harder on the north-east face of the Lin of Sal island by Maniitsoq, which I had dubbed the Shark’s Fin, where they really stretched themselves to make two fine first ascents. I added a lot of pilotage research to the expedition, submitted now to the relevant authority for the new edition of the excellent Arctic and Northern Waters pilot book. The Atlantic crossing in these latitudes had its usual challenges, with a depression stretching right across from Greenland to Scotland and beyond. We went south to get round it, hove-to for 26 hours in big winds, got hit hard by a wave amidships which burst open a repair I had done after some damage in Aasiaat the winter before. The bracket holding the boom vang also sheared off when the vang got jammed heaving-to, and the wind instrument gave up altogether. The usual adventures. Two of the crew had not sailed before and none had done an Atlantic crossing. They did well. Next summer I am under orders to take the grandchildren sailing. Now there is a challenge….