Bob Shepton is a highly experienced Arctic explorer who has led several Sailing and Climbing Expeditions to Greenland and Arctic Canada in his yacht, the Westerly 33 ft sloop 'Dodo's Delight'. Through many seasons of exploring he has become a leading expert on the waters around Greenland, winning the the Royal Cruising Club’s Tilman Medal twice for his exploits. His articles appear regularly in the international yachting press. Bob is a member of the Royal Cruising Club, the Ocean Cruising Club, the Alpine Club and the Arctic Club.
Last year we saw Bob undertake one of many successful expeditions; Bob notes it was successful but hard, largely owing to the uncompromising, remote and desolate terrain of Baffin Island, and the conditions and weather in the Arctic. It was an expedition in two halves. The crew joined the boat in Aasiaat. First, round to the Uummannaq area of west Greenland where they put up five new extreme big wall routes . They then had to wait for some time for the ice to clear over on the east coast of Baffin. When they finally made the crossing of the Davis Strait they were surprised to come across big fields of pack ice 75 miles out to sea from the coast of Baffin. Obviously it was the old shore ice moving out but fortunately the wind and swell had broken it up sufficiently for them to weave through to reach Clyde Inlet to check in to Canada! They made their way a 100 miles further on to Sam Ford Fjord and Gibbs Fjord and put up five more extreme big wall routes, even though the weather was not co-operative in Baffin, and the anchorages could be minimal. In both countries all these big wall climbs were done by long extended alpine style pushes of 20-24 hours (one in only 12 hours!) rather than the usual big wall style of sleeping on portaledges on the faces and taking several days. But all of these climbs in both countries were completed without using any artificial aids, a point of climbing honour with the team. This was particularly noteworthy in the Baffin fjords where nearly all previous routes in Sam Ford and Gibbs Fjords had been done using aid. Of course as was usual with the ‘Wild Bunch’, as Bob calls them, there was plenty of music in between with new songs composed! Finally they sailed back across to Greenland and entered through the rock strewn channel into Sisimiut in winds of 40-44 knots, to leave the boat there for the winter. A fitting finale to a tough expedition!
This year Bob notes that his plans this year are somewhat less ‘hairy’ with a milder expedition planned for this summer - After launching the boat, the plan is to sail south down the west coast exploring and taking in some new climbs at Evighedsfjord, Hamborgerland, and Cape Farewell in the far south. Then to sail her back home across the Atlantic to Scotland - no great danger from ice this year, as long as they take care round Cape Farewell where it can sometimes collect, plus a rather earlier crossing of the Atlantic than he has made in the past to try and avoid the worst of the storms.
Bob’s expedition is planned for late May until end of August, we can’t wait to hear how it goes.
For more information on Bob and his fascinating expeditions please visit www.bobshepton.co.uk or you can purchase his book Addicted to Adventure online here: http://amzn.to/1CRijHd