Cliffs Ahoy: Vertical Sailing and Sea Ditties in the Arctic Circle

Posted on: July 10, 2015

Captain Bob Shepton's sailboat, the Dodo's Delight (in the lower left corner of this image), has acted as a floating base camp since 2010 for Ben Ditto, Nico and Olivier Favresse and Sean Villaneuva O'Driscoll while they explored unclimbed big walls in the Arctic Circle. [Video Screenshot] Ben Ditto

Last summer a group of climbers navigated the chill waters of the North Atlantic to access remote big wall routes in the Uumannaq area of Greenland, Gibbs Fjord, Nanavut and Sam Ford Fjord, Baffin Island. During this trip they authored ten new long routes in alpine style. This wasn't their maiden voyage, but a reprise of a 2010 adventure—a style of climbing the team dubbed "vertical sailing."

Back in 2010, big wall climbers-turned-crew-members Ben Ditto, Nico and Olivier Favresse and Sean Villaneuva O'Driscoll first climbed aboard Dodo's Delight and set sail for three months along Greenland's west coast. With the 10-meter Westerly as a floating base camp, the climbers established a handful of routes on vertical faces rising up from the Labrador Sea. The team's grand adventure earned them a 2011 Piolet D'Or award.


[Read about the 2010 adventure climb here Exotic New Routes on Greenland's Big Walls, view videos from the trip here Piolet d'Or Winning Greenland Adventure and read about Captain Bob's nautical experiences here Nautical Series: Bob Shepton—Ed.]

Recently the team created a music video to inspire a new crew of vertical sailing adventurers.

Shot on location, performed in the raucous spirit of the nautical shanty (think the Sex Pistols' song Friggin' in the Riggin') and armed with mandolin, spoons, squeeze box, whistle and an inflatable alligator, they made the following video.

"It was Sean's idea originally," Ditto told Alpinist. "He'd been working on it for a while, and one night he just busted out the lyrics. We all added to it, and polished it up as we sailed the fjords, between cliffs and climbs."

To view images from the team's trips up north, check out Ditto's website and follow him on Instagram.

Sources: Ben Ditto,

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