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11 facts about Sir Ernest Shackleton



Anglo-Irish explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton made four expeditions to Antarctica in the early part of the 20th century, failing many of his objectives but becoming a legendary leader in the process. January 5, 2022 marks the 100th anniversary of his death on his last expedition to the frozen continent. Here are the essential facts about the Boss’s adventure life.

1. Before going to Antarctica, Ernest Shackleton worked on merchant ships.

Ernest Shackleton was born in County Kildare, Ireland on February 15, 1874. At the age of 10 he moved with his family to Sydenham, then a suburb of south London, and attended Dulwich College in proximity before enrolling in the merchant navy at 16 years old. He served on a ship transporting goods between the UK and South America, and had his first glimpse of the rough seas around Cape Horn, with which he would become all too familiar later.

2. Ernest Shackleton had a famous rivalry with Robert Falcon Scott.

Commander Robert Falcon Scott led the 1901-1904 British National Antarctic Expedition aboard the ship Discovery, with Shackleton serving as third officer. While the science team performed experiments, Scott, Shackleton, and Edward Wilson scoured the continent’s uncharted interior within 500 statute miles of the South Pole. Shackleton, however, contracted severe scurvy and was sent home in 1903. In his account of the trip, Scott hinted that Shackleton’s disease prevented the group from reaching the Pole. Insulted Shackleton began planning an even more ambitious trip to Antarctica. The rivalry was still strong in 1907, when Scott complained to a cartographer that he had his name next to Shackleton’s on a new map.

3. Ernest Shackleton set a southernmost record.

Shackleton ordered the Nimrod expedition from 1907 to 1909 and achieved a handful of important firsts: five men made the first ascent of Mount Erebus, a living volcano, and the crew drove the first car to Antarctica. Shackleton and three others tried again for the South Pole, but a severe food shortage forced them to retreat just 97 nautical miles (111.6 statute miles) from their target. “On the last day we pulled our bolt and the tale is 88 ° 23 ‘S[outh], 162 ° East[ast], he writes in his diary. ” Back home. Whatever the regrets, we did our best.

Although he did not reach his destination, Shackleton returned to England with a new southernmost record. He was praised for his wise decision to save the lives of his men by turning around – a glimpse of leadership that would later become his defining characteristic.

4. Ernest Shackleton testified at the Titanic investigation.

Upon returning from his second trip to Antarctica, Shackleton was considered one of the leading experts on polar phenomena. For this reason, he was called to testify at the hearing following the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The Explorer gave his opinion on the conditions that would have made the North Atlantic iceberg difficult for mariners to see until it was too late. “With a calm and dead sea, there is no sign to give you any indication that there is anything out there,” he said.

5. Ernest Shackleton’s alleged publicity for his upcoming trip was not optimistic.

Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole on December 14, 1911, defeating Shackleton’s nemesis Robert Falcon Scott and his team of four men over a month old (Scott’s group perished in their return). With this claimed trophy, Shackleton refocused on launching the first expedition to cross Antarctica on foot. When is the time to hire your crew for the great Imperial Transantarctic expedition aboard the ship? Endurance, Shackleton reportedly published an ad in a newspaper that did not mince words:

“MEN WANTED for hazardous travel, low salary, freezing cold, long months of total darkness, constant danger, safe return, honor and recognition in the event of success. Ernest Shackleton, 4 Burlington Street.

However, historians have not been able to locate a copy of the original advertisement, leading many to conclude that it was probably a myth.

6. Ernest Shackleton and five men covered 800 miles in an open boat…

the Endurance left Plymouth, England in August 1914 with a crew of 26; Shackleton and Second in Command Frank Wild joined the ship later. In January 1915 the ship was stuck in the pack ice and finally sank on November 21, 1915 [PDF], never having reached the continent. Shackleton and the crew set up camp on the pack ice and drifted helplessly in the currents for the next four months. Southern summer temperatures between December and April gradually melted their pack ice, and when the ice broke on April 9, 1916, they jumped into three lifeboats and sailed to the nearest land, an uninhabited point called Elephant Island, 150 miles north-northeast of the Antarctic Peninsula.

After landing, Shackleton, who knew a rescue was unlikely, made the decision to leave for help. He took five other men in their 23-foot lifeboat, the James caird, and headed for the whaling station in South Georgia. The small, isolated island was 800 miles away, across the world’s most dangerous ocean. Despite severe storms and the freezing sea water constantly lapping above their heads, not to mention exhaustion, the EnduranceFrank Worsley’s captain was able to steer the boat and they barely disembarked alive two weeks later on May 10, 1916.

7.… And then Shackleton and two companions climbed unexplored glaciers.

Unfortunately the James caird landed on the wrong side of South Georgia, and it was too dangerous to sail to the whaling station. Despite their extreme fatigue and hunger, Shackleton, Worsley and the EnduranceTom Crean’s second officer scoured the glacier-covered mountain range forming the backbone of the island. From Alfred Lansing’s definitive account Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Journey, they knew they had done it when they heard the station bell signaling the start of the workday, at 6:30 a.m. sharp on May 20, 1916.

In the days and weeks that followed, Shackleton recovered the three men who remained on the other side of the island and (after several attempts thwarted by sea ice) chartered a ship in August 1916 to rescue those who were stranded on Elephant Island. The 28 Endurancethe crew survived.

8. Business coaches teach the leadership style of Ernest Shackleton.

Shackleton is famous for not having lost a man, but even before that he made strategic decisions to preserve the health and morale of his crew during their many adrift months. In one example, when he chose his crew for the boat trip, he chose the carpenter Henry “Chippy” McNeish, despite a strained relationship with him. The boss believed that leaving McNeish behind at Elephant Island would create the potential for discord among the castaways. Shackleton’s skills as a leader, especially his example of resilience in extreme situations, have inspired many business guides, books, and case studies.

9. Ernest Shackleton volunteered during the First World War.

On their return from Antarctica, a surprising number of EnduranceThe crew served in the First World War. Among them, photographer Frank Hurley worked as a combat photojournalist, Wild volunteered as a Royal Navy transport officer in Russia, and Shackleton himself served in the Northern Russia Expeditionary Force during the Civil War. from this country.

After the armistice, Shackleton began planning his next quest, appropriately aboard the ship. Quest—Funded by philanthropist John Quiller Rowett. The Boss and his crew, which included eight Endurance veterans, arrived in South Georgia on January 4, 1922. The next morning, Shackleton died suddenly of coronary thrombosis at the age of 47. He was buried in the Norwegian whaling cemetery at the Grytviken whaling station, according to his wife’s wishes.

10. Modern day explorers have recreated Ernest Shackleton’s legendary boat trip.

In 2014, adventurer Tim Jarvis led a five-man crew in a re-enactment of Shackleton’s open boat trip from Elephant Island to South Georgia on the 100th anniversary of the feat. They traveled in a wooden replica of the James caird, used century-old gear to navigate and navigate, and even wore the same type of Edwardian-era clothing as Shackleton’s men. Like the first explorers, Jarvis and his crew faced huge waves, storms, cold and icy winds before crossing the glaciers of South Georgia on foot to the old whaling station. A documentary of the expedition aired on PBS.

11. People are always looking for Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance.

According to Worsley’s calculations, the Endurance was crushed by ice at 68 ° 39′30 ″ S latitude, 52 ° 26′30 ″ W longitude, nearly 200 miles east of the Antarctic Peninsula. Although they know the coordinates, scientists have not located the actual wreckage, which is believed to have sunk in 9,800 feet of water. Julian Dowdeswell, professor of physical geography at the University of Cambridge, organized an expedition to the site in 2019 to analyze conditions on the seabed and discover the Endurancethe last resting place. Although weather and ice conditions precluded a thorough search, Dowdeswell found minimal sediment drift and ice scour at the site – in other words, the Endurance is likely to be clearly visible and intact … if ever it is found.

Additional sources: Endurance: the incredible journey of Shackleton; Shackleton’s boat trip