Ben Shillington has, since grade 8, intended to turn his life into one grand adventure and he is well on his way to doing this…
Since graduating from the Outdoor Adventure programme in 2002 where he had specialized extensively in rock and ice-climbing techniques, he has climbed Mount Everest, Lobuche East, and Mount Kilimanjaro. He has also biked across Canada and guided a mountain bike expedition from Istanbul, Turkey to Beijing, China, and traveled across Australia, Europe, and South America.
The year’s are ticked off by the expeditions he has taken part in:
- 2003 – He was a mountain climber, and Algonquin College’s local expert, for the Discovery Channel for their Fall 2003 Mount Everest Expedition. He spent two months climbing and filming the western crown of Mount Everest up to Base Camp II (6,500 m).
- 2006 – he helped guide Algonquin’s Expedition Africa,a group of 32, up Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
- 2008 – he was the Silk Route tour leader for an expedition to bike over 10,000 km through 8 countries (flying over one) from Istanbul,Turkey to Beijing, China – a 3½ month trip. for more on this trip you can follow the link to a previous article of ours… Canadian to lead mountain bike challenge from Turkey to China.
And packed around these dates are his mini-expeditions like cycling across Canada, Italy etc etc etc.
Which brings us to 2011, a year which has only just begun but which has already seen one completed adventure for this Canadian adventurer. On 28th January he returned from a 16-day, 300 km trip across Lake Winnipeg. “The ice conditions (on Lake Winnipeg) were a little more extreme than we’d anticipated,” he said, “but it was great.”
“We were happy with roughly 300 km, 16 days, a couple big storms, full whiteouts, pure navigation, all the rough conditions. The Winnipeg expedition was a training ground for the Greenland
crossing, so some of the things I was trying to figure out were the things I couldn’t think of.”
The expedition was a test run for an east to west Greenland crossing scheduled for May 2012. It was a chance to try out equipment, nutrition plans, and how Shillington’s team works together in stressful, extreme environments. The team on this occasion consisted of just 3 people – Marc Leblanc, a fellow instructor at Wilderness Tours, and Neal Watts, another Algonquin graduate. However, ideally Shillington would like a 4-man team for the Greenland Crossing and is hoping that Cameron Dubé, also an outdoor adventure instructor, will be able to join them.
The Greenland expedition is anticipated to take 45-days.
He is always ready for another trip. “While I’m on one trip, I’m already planning the next one,” he says. Ultimately he wants to get to both Poles and the Greenland trip is a preparation for the rigours of those future journeys. “I’m living my dream,” he says. “And I’m thankful for that every day.”
And you wonder why we asked if this was going to be next Ranulph Fiennes?