Ernest Shackleton


Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (Kilkea, Ireland, 15 February 1874 – Grytviken, South Georgia Island, 5 January 1922) was a British explorer of English and Irish descent, an Antarctic explorer and one of the outstanding figures of the golden age of Antarctic exploration. He took part in four Antarctic expeditions, three of them as expedition leader.

He had his first experience of the Antarctic as a third officer on Robert Falcon Scott”s Discovery expedition between 1901 and 1904, from which he had to return home early for health reasons. In January 1909, they made their closest approach ever to the South Pole, reaching 88°23′ south latitude, only 180 km from the southernmost point. As part of the expedition, the team was the first to climb Mount Erebus volcano and reach the calculated location of the South Magnetic Pole. In recognition of these achievements, they were knighted by King Edward VII of Britain.

After first Roald Amundsen and then Robert Falcon Scott reached the South Pole on 14 December 1911 and 18 January 1912 respectively, Shackleton set himself a new goal: not only to reach the Pole, but to cross the entire continent by touching the Pole. To this end he organised the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which set out on 4 August 1914. The expedition failed to achieve its goal as their ship, the Endurance, was surrounded and crushed by ice in the Weddell Sea, forcing the crew to abandon ship. They lived on the drifting ice for months before taking lifeboats to Elephant Island, where Shackleton and five others boarded a boat again to bring help from the island of South Georgia, 1,500 kilometres away. In August 1916, all the men were safely rescued from the island.

Despite the hardships he had experienced in the Arctic, he organised another expedition in 1921 to circumnavigate the Antarctic. During the Shackleton-Rowett expedition, before the actual expedition began, Shackleton died of a heart attack on 5 January 1922 on South Georgia Island. At his wife”s request, he was buried here in the cemetery of Grytviken.

Shackleton”s fame is best known for the incredible story of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which made him a hero in the press of his day. Yet, unlike Captain Scott, his name was long forgotten. He was rediscovered later, in the second half of the 20th century, and his work is held up as a model for leadership theory and crisis management.

Shackleton was born on 15 February 1874 in Kilkea, Ireland, the second child in a family of ten children. His father, Henry Shackleton, was a Yorkshire landowner whose ancestors emigrated to Ireland in the 18th century. His mother, Henrietta Letitia Sophia Gavan, was of Irish descent. The Shackleton family motto was ”Fortitudine Vincimus”, after which Shackleton later named one of his expedition ships Endurance. The family crest, dating from the 1600s, shows three gold clasps on a red field.

Due to the general decline of agriculture in Ireland at the end of the 19th century, Shackleton”s father decided to give up farming and learn a new trade. The family moved to Dublin in 1880, when Shackleton was six, where his father Henry Shackleton studied medicine at Trinity College. Four years later, in December 1884, the family left Ireland and moved to Sydenham, a suburb of London, England, where the father opened a medical practice.

From a very young age, Shackleton was an avid reader, particularly of the adventure novels of George Alfred Henty and Jules Verne. His favourite book was the polar explorer Charles Francis Hall”s Life with the Esquimaux. His fascination with the search for hidden treasures, his quest for independence and his captivating enthusiasm were to accompany him throughout his life. He had previously been educated with the help of a tutor, but after moving to Sydenham at the age of 10 he was enrolled at Fir Lodge Primary School. Tall and strongly built for his age, Ernest was regarded by his schoolmates as a friendly and good-natured pupil, but often unable to control his temper when people made negative remarks about his background or Irish accent.

In the summer of 1887, Shackleton was enrolled at Dulwich College boarding school for boys. He was not very good at school, found too immature for the curriculum for his age, and was placed in a younger class. During his school years he was nicknamed Mickey. He did not like school or the curriculum, and said he was bored by what he was taught in class. He thought of geography as a ”list of cities, points, bays and islands” and decided to join the navy when he finished school. His father had wanted him to follow his example and study medicine, but seeing Ernest”s enthusiasm, he did not stand in his way.

As financial constraints prevented his family from allowing him to continue his studies on the Royal Navy training ship Britannia, young Shackleton joined the merchant navy at the age of 16. In April 1890, he sailed to Liverpool and took up his post as a midshipman on the North Western Shipping Company”s sailing vessel Hoghton Tower. Over the next four years he was introduced to the day-to-day duties and theory of seamanship through practical training. He travelled to many distant countries and met people from many different backgrounds and cultures. On his first voyage, he experienced the harsh conditions of winter sea storms as he sailed around Cape Horn to Valparaiso and Iquique, where the ship was washed and new cargo was taken on board for six weeks. Here he learned how to get the cargo from the ship to the shore and back intact using boats. He put this knowledge to good use on subsequent expeditions. He made a total of three sea voyages with Hoghton Tower before taking his second officer”s examination at the London Naval College on 4 October 1894.

On the recommendation of a school friend, Shackleton took a third mate”s job on the cargo ship Monmouthshire in November 1894, sailing on the Far East. On January 24, 1895, while Shackleton was sailing in the Indian Ocean, Carsten Egeberg Borchgrevink, part of Henryk Bull”s whaling expedition, landed on Cape Adare and claimed to be the first man to set foot on Antarctic land. It is only by coincidence that Shackleton says it was at this time that he decided to become an Arctic explorer.

When he returned from his second voyage on the Monmouthshire in 1896, he passed his first mate”s examination and, after a period as second mate on the Welsh Shire Line steamer Flintshire, he was certificated as captain in Singapore in 1898. He then served as an employee of the Union-Castle Line on the liner Tantallon Castle, which carried mail and parcels between Southampton and Cape Town. Following the outbreak of the Second Boer War in 1899, Shackleton became third mate on the troopship Tintagel Castle, which transported troops to Cape Town. It was in Cape Town that he met Rudyard Kipling, the renowned author whom he hoped to win as co-author of his first book.

Like his later rival, Robert Falcon Scott, who served in the Royal Navy, Shackleton did not feel he could fulfil his ambition in the merchant navy. A colleague later said that he was ”tempted to break out of the monotony of daily routine and habit, an existence that would eventually stifle his individuality”. Shortly after being invited to join the Royal Geographical Society, Shackleton”s career as an explorer began, not least because he saw it as a good opportunity to become rich and famous. In March 1900, he met Cedric Longstaff, a young army lieutenant whose father, Llewellyn W. Longstaff, was a major contributor to the National Antarctic Expedition. Shackleton used his friendship with Cedric to persuade his friend”s father to join the expedition team. Longstaff was so impressed by Shackleton”s enthusiasm and persuasiveness that he instructed Sir Clement Markham, the expedition”s patron, to take him on board. On 17 February 1901, Shackleton was appointed third mate on the expedition ship Discovery. Shortly afterwards, he was promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant in the Royal Navy Reserve. After leaving the Union-Castle Line, his career in the merchant navy officially ended.

The National Antarctic Expedition, as the Discovery expedition was officially known, was initiated by Sir Clements Markham, then President of the Royal Geographical Society, to carry out scientific and geographical research and exploration in the South Pole. A Royal Navy officer, Frigate Captain Robert Falcon Scott, was appointed to lead the expedition. Although the research vessel Discovery was not part of the navy, Scott required officers, crew and scientific staff to adhere to the discipline of the British navy. Shackleton accepted these rules, although he himself favoured less formal, more direct methods of command. On board, Shackleton”s duties included the inspection of sea water, the care of the officers” mess, the hold, stores, provisions and entertainment.

The Discovery left Cowes on 6 August 1901 and reached the Ross Islands in January 1902, passing through Cape Town and Littelton, New Zealand. After anchoring in a small cove, Shackleton took off in an airship and made the first aerial photographs of Antarctica.

The expedition set up winter quarters at McMurdo Sound, and then Shackleton set out with scientists Edward Wilson and Hartley Ferrar on a sledging expedition to find a safe route for the planned expedition through the Ross Ice Shelf to the South Pole.In the winter of 1902, as the ice encircled Discovery, Shackleton edited the expedition magazine The South Polar Times. According to one of the crew, Clarence Hare, Shackleton was the most popular officer among the crew because of his direct nature.

He chose Scott Shackleton and Edward Wilson to join him on an expedition to the South Pole. The aim of the expedition was not actually to reach the South Pole, but to get as close as possible. The fact that Scott chose Shackleton shows that he had great confidence in him. The team set off on 2 November 1902. During the voyage, which Scott later described as a combination of success and failure, they reached 82°17′ south latitude on 30 December 1902, surpassing Borchgrevink”s previous record of 78°50” set on 16 February 1900, but were forced to turn back from there. Their progress was severely hampered by their lack of experience with sled dogs and the fact that the dogs quickly became ill from spoiled food. All 22 dogs eventually died during the journey. The events of the return journey and their impact on Scott and Shackleton”s personal relationship remain unclear to this day. The undisputed fact is that all three men suffered from temporary snow blindness and frostbite, as well as scurvy. Shackleton was in the worst condition. He suffered from shortness of breath, heart pain, and spitting blood, unable to move on his own at the end of the journey. Accordingly he could not do his share of the work of pulling the sledges. Scott later reported that Shackleton had to be carried on the sledge for long stretches, but Shackleton later denied this claim.

The three men finally reached the base camp on the Hut Point peninsula on 3 February 1903. After Dr. Reginald Koettlitz, the expedition”s doctor, examined Shackleton, Scott decided to send him home in the ship Morning, sent to Discovery”s aid and anchored in McMurdo Sound. Scott later wrote that in Shackleton”s condition at the time, he considered it risky to subject him to further hardship. There are speculations, however, that the real reason for the decision was that Scott resented Shackleton because of his popularity, and that his poor health at the time was just a good excuse to get rid of him. According to Diana Preston, Scott”s biographer, Shackleton had a tendency to question orders and disobey orders, and for Scott, discipline was paramount. Regardless of this, Shackleton”s relationship with Scott was amicable until the publication of Scott”s book The Voyage of the Discovery in 1905. Although they spoke of each other in public with mutual respect and courtesy, Roland Huntford, Shackleton”s biographer, says that thereafter Shackleton grew to dislike and despise Scott. His wounded pride prompted him to return to Antarctica and outdo Scott.

Shackleton left Antarctica on 2 March 1903 aboard the Morning. After a brief stop in New Zealand, via San Francisco and New York, he returned to England in June 1903. As the first person of any authority to return from the expedition, his arrival was much anticipated. The Admiralty needed first-hand information to organise the rescue of people trapped on Ross Island by the ice. At Sir Clements Markham”s request, he temporarily took charge of equipping and preparing Terra Nova for a second rescue mission to Discovery, but declined the offer to return to Antarctica as first officer on board. Instead, he also helped to equip the Argentine corvette Uruguay, sent to rescue the Swedish Antarctic expedition led by Otto Nordenskjöld.

Shackleton applied to the Royal Navy at this time, but despite the support of Markham and the President of the Royal Society of Natural History, William Huggins, he was unsuccessful. In the autumn of 1903, he worked as a journalist and associate editor for the Royal Magazine, but left his post after a few weeks. On 14 January 1904, with the support of his friend Hugh Robert Mill, he finally won the newly vacant position of Secretary and Treasurer of the Royal Geographical Society of Scotland.

On April 9, 1904, he married Emily Dormant (1868-1936), to whom he later had three children, Raymond (1905), Cecily (1906) and Edward (1911).

In February 1906, Shackleton, who was completely inexperienced in business affairs, became a shareholder in a dubious speculative company that planned to transport Russian troops from Vladivostok to the Baltic Sea, but the plan was ultimately foiled. He then tried his hand at politics, but failed to win a seat in the House of Commons as the Liberal Unionist Party”s candidate for Dundee in the 1906 general election.

In the meantime, he took a job as a secretary for the wealthy tycoon William Beardmore (later Lord Invernairn), a manufacturer of new gas engines, where his job was to find new clients and entertain staff. Despite having found a lucrative job, Shackleton made no secret of his desire to return to Antarctica as leader of his own expedition.

Beardmore was impressed by Shackleton”s plans and offered a grant of £7000 (2009: £278 M) towards the expedition. However, no further backers were forthcoming, and Shackleton presented his plans to the Royal Geographical Society in February 1907, and then published details in the Geographical Journal.


Shackleton”s first self-organised expedition was officially called the British Antarctic Expedition, but after the expedition ship it became known as the Nimrod Expedition. The plan, submitted to the Royal Geographical Society and detailed in the Geographical Journal, was to reach the geographic South Pole and the South Magnetic Pole. In organising the expedition, Shackleton encountered serious funding problems from the outset, as neither the Royal Geographical Society nor the British government provided any financial support. He made every effort to find additional support from his own friends and acquaintances, in addition to Beardmore. These included 20-year-old Sir Philip Lee Brocklehurst, who bought his way onto the expedition with a donation of £2,000, Campbell Mackellar and the Baron of Guinness, Lord Iveagh, whose contribution was secured less than two weeks before the expedition was due to start.

For the expedition, Shackleton purchased the 41.6-metre, three-masted, steam-engined, Newfoundland-registered seal-hunting schooner Nimrod in May 1907 for a purchase price of £5,000. Prior to its launch, the vessel was refurbished and rebuilt to make it suitable for Arctic navigation. This included new masts and a new sail, converting her from a former schooner to a barkentine and fitting her with a new 60 horsepower steam engine capable of reaching speeds of up to eight and a half knots (nearly 16 km

Shackleton”s original plan was to use the former base station established during the Discovery expedition in McMurdo Sound to attempt to conquer the South Pole. However, a few weeks before departure, Scott had promised his former subordinate Shackleton that he would not establish a base station in McMurdo Sound, as he wanted to reserve it as an operating area for his own future Antarctic expedition. Shackleton, reluctantly, agreed to establish winter quarters in the Bay of Whales or on the Edward VII Peninsula.

The road of Nimrod

The Nimrod sailed from East India Dock, London on 30 July 1907, but at the request of the royal family to see the ship before departure, she was docked at Cowes, Isle of Wight.On 4 August 1907, King Edward VII, Queen Alexandra, the Prince of Wales, Princess Victoria and the Duke of Connaught visited the Nimrod in Cowes. The Queen presented Shackleton with a silk imperial banner and the King presented him with the Order of Victoria of the King”s Cross. The Nimrod then sailed to New Zealand via Cape Town, South Africa, arriving in the port of Lyttelton on 23 November 1907. The Nimrod sailed from New Zealand for the Arctic on 1 January 1908, after replenishing her stores. In order to save coal, the ship was towed by the steamship Koonya for 2,655 km (1,650 miles) to the South Pole. Shackleton managed to persuade the Koonya”s owner, the Union Steamship Company, and the New Zealand government to cover the cost.

According to his promise to Scott, Nimrod headed for the eastern part of the Ross Ice Shelf, which they reached on 21 January 1908. On arrival, they found that since the Discovery expedition, a large bay had formed at the edge of the ice, which they named Bay of Whales because of the large number of whales there. The unstable ice conditions in the bay made it impossible to establish winter quarters there. Unable to anchor off the Edward VII Peninsula due to drifting ice, they eventually headed for McMurdo Sound, despite an agreement with Scott. Second Officer Arthur Harbord later reported that ”common sense” dictated this decision due to ice pressure, lack of coal and lack of other known possible base locations. Scott, on the other hand, believed that Shackleton had deceived and insulted him, calling him a “professional liar”.

The Nimrod reached McMurdo Sound on 29 January 1908, but due to the ice floes that had built up, they were unable to reach the old base station established on the Hut Point peninsula during the Discovery expedition. After a significant delay due to adverse weather, the Shackletons finally established winter quarters at Cape Royds, about 39 km north of Hut Point. Despite the harsh conditions, the team was in very good spirits, thanks to Shackleton”s ability to communicate with all the crew. Philip Brocklehurst recounted many years later that Shackleton had a special ability to make all the members of the expedition feel appreciated and made his men feel more important than they actually were.

Climbing Mount Erebus

The retreat of the ice has made it impossible for the time being to start preparatory work on the planned route to the geographic South Pole. Shackleton therefore decided that some members of the team should attempt to climb Mount Erebus volcano near the base station. Named and discovered by James Clark Ross in 1841, the 3,794-metre high active volcano was not planned for either Borchgrevink”s or Scott”s expedition. On 5 March 1908, David Edgeworth, Douglas Mawson and Alistair Mackay, with Eric Marshall, Jameson Adams and Philip Brocklehurst as support, set out to climb the mountain. None of the team had any serious mountaineering experience. Despite various difficulties, the two teams continued together until they reached the edge of the main crater, but Brocklehurst”s frostbite injuries meant that he was eventually left in a camp set up below the crater. On 10 March 1908, the others reached the active summit crater protruding from the volcano”s main crater. On the way back, the team members, gathering up the sledges they had left behind, essentially slid down the snow-covered slopes of the mountain. By the time they returned to base camp a day later, Marshall says they were “close to death”.

Reaching the south magnetic pole

Following the establishment of base camp, while preparations were underway for an expedition to the South Pole, Shackleton commissioned David Edgeworth to lead a team of explorers to Victoria Land. The task of the so-called North team was to reach the South Magnetic Pole and carry out geological research. The three-man team, David, Douglas Mawson and Alistair Mackay, set off on 5 October 1908. Progress was slow due to adverse weather and difficult terrain. Finally, on 16 January 1909, they reached the calculated position of the South Magnetic Pole at 72°15” south latitude and 155°16” east longitude, at an altitude of 2210 metres above sea level. In a silent ceremony, David raised the British imperial flag as a formal symbol of the annexation of the territory to the British Empire.

They set off on the 460-kilometre return journey exhausted and with meagre food supplies. They had only 15 days to reach the pre-arranged rendezvous point with Nimrod. Despite growing physical weakness, they were able to maintain the planned speed for most of the journey, but the weather turned bad and they were unable to reach the meeting point on time. Although the Nimrod at first missed the group in the thick snowfall, they were finally spotted from the boat two days later and the party, exhausted from four months of marching, finally reached safety.

An attempt to conquer the geographical South Pole

The “Great Southward Journey” as Frank Wild called their attempt to conquer the South Pole began on 29 October 1908. Instead of the originally planned six-man team, four men – Shackleton, Wild, Jameson Adams and Eric Marshall – set off for the South Pole. They planned to complete the entire round trip, which Shackleton calculated at 2,765 kilometres, in 91 days. Because Shackleton did not trust sled dogs, they took pony horses to carry the load. Eventually, after losing all the ponies, the sledges were pulled by manpower and, after a march fraught with difficulty and danger, they reached latitude 88°23′ south on 9 January 1909, setting a new record. No one had ever come so close to the geographical South Pole before. Although they were only 180 km from the southernmost point, bad weather conditions, dwindling supplies, inadequate equipment and increasing exhaustion made it impossible to continue. The team raised the imperial flag given to them by Queen Alexandra, and Shackleton named the Sarki plateau after Edward VII. During the voyage, the four men were the first to cross the entire length of the Ross Ice Shelf, the first to explore the Beardmore Glacier and the first to penetrate the centre of the Antarctic Polar Plateau.

The way back was a race against time and hunger. The agreement was for Nimrod to sail back to New Zealand on 1 March 1909, which meant they had to make the journey in 51 days, compared to 73 days on the way there. Despite a weakened condition, sickness from spoiled pony meat and rations halved by necessity, the team made much faster progress than on the outward journey. The tailwinds, which had picked up in the meantime, fortunately made progress easier with the sails mounted on the sledges. Finally, on 23 February, they reached the Bluff shed, which had been thoroughly rigged a month earlier by a team led by Ernest Joyce. Their food problems were solved, but they still had to get back to Hut Point base camp before the March 1 deadline. The last leg of the journey was interrupted by a snowstorm that made it impossible to continue for 24 hours. Due to Marshall”s physical collapse, Shackleton decided to continue on with Wild to reach Nimrod and then return for Marshall and Adams. The two men returned to base camp on 28 February 1909. With no ship in sight to attract attention, they set fire to one of the wooden huts built for the experiments. Shortly afterwards the Nimrod, anchored nearby, appeared on the horizon. Shackleton brought Marshall and Adams aboard the Nimrod with a four-man rescue party, and on 4 March 1909 the Nimrod sailed north at full speed.

The expedition was undoubtedly Shackleton”s most important scientific undertaking. The expedition mapped areas of the South Pole never before seen, reached the approximate location of the South Magnetic Pole, corrected erroneous cartographic measurements from the Discovery expedition, and led biologist James Murray to produce the first comprehensive study of Antarctic freshwater unicellular and less developed multicellular organisms. In addition, and not least, they have come closer to the geographic South Pole than any previous attempt.

On his return from the expedition, Shackleton was hailed as a hero in the UK. He published his experiences of the trip in his book The Heart of Antarctica. His wife later told how, when she asked him what had made him turn back just 180 kilometres from the South Pole, Shackleton replied, “A live donkey is better than a dead lion, isn”t it?”.

Shackleton, the celebrated hero

On his return from the Nimrod expedition, Shackleton received the highest honours. On 12 July 1909, he was made Commander of the Royal Victorian Order by King Edward VII of England, and was knighted by the King on 14 December of the same year. The Royal Geographical Society awarded Shackleton the Gold Medal of the Polar Medal, and all the landing party members of the Nimrod expedition were awarded the Silver Medal. On the recommendation of the Prince of Wales, Shackleton was awarded the title of “Younger Brother” by Trinity House, the British Marine and Oceanographic Society, a great honour among British seafarers. Other polar explorers, such as Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen, have also paid tribute to Shackleton”s achievements.

In addition to official honours, Shackleton”s achievements were celebrated with great enthusiasm by the British public. At the height of his popularity, in July 1909, his wax figure was exhibited in Madame Tussaud”s Panopticon. During the summer of 1909, he was invited to many parties, dinners, receptions and lectures in his honour. At the end of 1909, he embarked on a 123-stop lecture tour of Britain, Europe and America. In January 1910, at the invitation of the Hungarian Geographical Society, he gave a lecture in the Banqueting Hall of the National Museum in Budapest. His popularity was further enhanced by his modest demeanour, as on each occasion he emphasised the achievements of the other members of the expedition and sought to use his influence to benefit charitable causes.

During this time, a number of individuals and interest groups tried to use Shackleton”s popularity to further their own ends. In a sense, so did the Irish press of the time. The Dublin Evening Telegraph ran a front page headline that ”An Irishman has almost conquered the South Pole”. The Dublin Express also hailed the expedition as an Irish success.

Entrepreneurship and new challenges

Despite its huge popularity, Shackleton was financially on the verge of bankruptcy. Expedition costs exceeded £45 000 (2019: £1.73 billion) and Shackleton was in no position to repay outstanding loans and guarantees. The UK government finally rescued him from immediate financial collapse with a grant of £20 000 (2019: £769 M), and it is likely that some of his remaining debts were rescheduled and some were forgiven.

As his financial problems eased, he tried his luck in business again. Among other things, he invested in a tobacco factory, sold collector”s commemorative stamps bearing the King Edward VII of England stamp with the help of the New Zealand government, and won the concession rights to a gold mine near Nagybánya in Hungary. However, none of these ventures fulfilled his hopes, and Shackleton”s main source of income was from public performances.On 15 July 1911, his second son Edward was born, and the family moved to Sheringham in Norfolk. At this time Shackleton abandoned plans for another self-organised expedition to Antarctica for various reasons. He did, however, provide significant assistance to fundraising efforts to raise funds for the Australasian Antarctic expedition organised by his old partner Douglas Mawson. During this period, the Commission of Inquiry into the Titanic disaster, chaired by Rufus Isaacs and Robert Finlay, heard Shackleton on 18 June 1912, because of his extensive professional experience of Arctic navigation. During the hearing, he was asked for his views on the detection of icebergs and the peculiarities of navigation on icy waters.

Shackleton”s own expeditionary ambitions at this time depended mainly on the results of Robert Falcon Scott”s Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole, which sailed from Cardiff on 15 July 1910. On 9 March 1912, the news arrived that Roald Amundsen, part of the Fram expedition, had reached the South Pole on 14 December 1911. The world was unaware of the tragedy of Scott, who also reached the South Pole 35 days after Amundsen, but died with his companions on the return journey.

Shackleton”s attention then turned to a failed expedition plan, devised by Scottish explorer William Speirs Bruce, to cross the whole of Antarctica from the Weddell Sea coast to the South Pole, via McMurdo Sound. Bruce was delighted that Shackleton had adopted his plans. Wilhelm Filchner, a German explorer, had set out from Bremenhaven in May 1911 with essentially similar plans, but in March 1912 their ship was blocked by ice and they were forced to abandon their original plan and turn back. This paved the way for Shackleton”s transcontinental expedition, which he called “the last great challenge of Antarctic voyages”.


Shackleton”s plans for the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition were first published in a letter to the London Times newspaper on 29 December 1913. The so-called Weddell Sea team, led by Shackleton, would sail as far as the Weddell Sea and then land a team of six men and seventy dogs near Vahsel Bay. At the same time, the other ship, captained by Captain Aeneas Mackintosh, will be sent to the other side of the continent, to McMurdo Bay in the Ross Sea. This company (the so-called Ross Sea team) will set off from its station on the Ross Sea coast and lay provisions along the way as far as the South Pole. In the meantime, the Weddell Sea party, led by Shackleton, will approach the South Pole with sledges, using up their own supplies, which they will then replenish from the southernmost depot, near the Beardmore Glacier, which has been placed by the Ross Sea party. Additional reserves along the way will last until the station at McMurdo Bay. Thus, the total distance of approximately 2,800 kilometres is planned to be covered by a coordinated preparatory effort of the two teams.

As with other private enterprises, this expedition has also faced serious difficulties in raising funds. Although the government provided a grant of £10 000 and the Royal Geographical Society a token grant of £1,000, the cost of the expedition had to be met largely by private donations. Sir James Caird, a Scottish Jute merchant, contributed £24,000, Frank Dudley Docker, a British industrial magnate, £10,000, and Miss Janet Stancomb-Wills, the heiress of a tobacco manufacturer, contributed an undisclosed but “generous” sum. Shackleton also pre-sold virtually all rights to the expedition. He undertook to write a book about the expedition, pre-sold the rights to all still and moving images made during the trip, and promised to give a long series of lectures.

For the expedition”s Weddell Sea team, Lars Christensen bought the 44-metre, three-masted barkentine Polaris, one of the most powerful wooden ships of its time, from the owner for £11 600. After the purchase, Shackleton renamed the ship Endurance, in reference to his family motto, “By endurance we conquer”. And for the Ross Sea team, he bought Douglas Mawson”s expedition ship Aurora for £3,200. As the ship was anchored in Hobart, Tasmania, they were able to save the cost of the 12,000-mile voyage. For the expedition, 100 sled dogs were ordered from northern Canada. The crew was equipped with the latest technology and Shackleton”s experience from previous expeditions. A propeller sled and new types of easy-to-erect tents were developed especially for the expedition. Using the most modern packing techniques of the time, the Endurance could carry enough food (mainly preserved) for two years.

The crew

Although raising the funds was a difficult task, in contrast, more than 5,000 people responded to an advertisement placed by Shackleton to recruit a crew. The advertisement allegedly read: ”We are looking for men for a dangerous voyage. Low pay, freezing cold, long months in total darkness, constant danger to life. Safe return is doubtful. Medals and recognition if successful.” Shackleton”s interviewing and selection methods were quite unique, often relying on his intuition to decide whether or not to hire a candidate. He believed that character and temperament were as important in a team as professional competence. Shackleton was not a believer in traditional hierarchy. In order to create a united community, everyone had to do their share in steering the ship, handling the sails, keeping watch at night and cleaning the common rooms, sailors and officers alike. He was always available to the crew and did his share of the work.

He eventually recruited 56 crew members in total; 28-28 for each boat. Shackleton built the backbone of the crew on experienced, proven veterans. For the highest post – second-in-command – he chose Frank Wild, who had considerable Arctic experience and had served on the Discovery, Nimrod and Douglas Mawson-led Aurora expeditions. The captain of Endurance is Frank Worsley, while the captain of Aurora is Aeneas Mackintosh, who served as second officer on the Nimrod expedition. Endurance”s second officer Thomas Crean, third officer Alfred Cheetam, expedition draughtsman George Marston and seaman Thomas McLeod had also previously served on Antarctic expeditions. On Endurance, Lionel Greenstreet was first mate, Hubert Hudson navigator, Lewis Rickinson chief engineer and Alexander Kerr second engineer. The expedition”s scientific team of six included two ship”s doctors, James McIlroy and Alexander Macklin, geologist James Wordie, biologist Robert Clark, physicist Reginald James and meteorologist Leonard Hussey. Shackleton also signed on Australian photographer Frank Hurley to document Douglas Mawson”s expedition to Antarctica, and Thomas Orde-Lees to prepare the snowmobiles.The composition of the crew of the Aurora, the Ross Sea team, was in doubt until the last minute due to funding problems. Although Captain Aeneas Mackintosh and Ernest Joyce, the man in charge of the dogs and sleds, had been involved in the Nimrod expedition, several crew members withdrew from the venture due to uncertainties, and as a result, many of the last-minute recruits lacked any significant seafaring experience.

The journey and sinking of Endurance

After the outbreak of the First World War on 3 August 1914, Shackleton, with the agreement of the crew, left the fate of the expedition to the government to decide. Following a one-word telegram of reply from Winston Churchill, then Secretary of State for the Navy (which simply said “Let”s go!”), the Endurance sailed from Plymouth harbour on 8 August 1914. Shackleton and Wild joined the expedition team in Buenos Aires after their official duties in England were over. After a month at Grytviken on the South Georgia island of South Georgia, on 5 December 1914 Endurance set sail for the South Pole.They encountered earlier-than-expected ice, which slowed their progress considerably. Finally, on 19 January 1915, Endurance was finally blocked by ice in the Weddell Sea, about 100 kilometres from the planned landing site. After several attempts to free the ship, on 24 January 1915 Shackleton ordered the ship to be prepared for wintering. Over the next few months, Endurance slowly drifted northeast, frozen in ice. When the ice began to break up in September, the crushing ice sheets lifted and tilted the hull. The increasing ice pressure eventually began to break the ship little by little, and the inflowing water could no longer be stopped. Shackleton ordered the abandonment of the ship on 27 October 1915. The expedition members unloaded their equipment and supplies from the ship and set up winter quarters on a nearby ice shelf, which they named ”Ocean Camp”. Eventually, on 21 November 1915, the ice-crushed ship Endurance sank, and the team were left alone in the endless ice fields where no man had ever gone before.

Journey to Elephant Island

The team camped on the big ice shelf for about two months, hoping that the wind and currents would help them reach Paulet Island, 400 kilometres away, where Otto Nordenskjöld”s previous expedition had wintered and stored its reserves. Several desperate attempts were made to reach their destination. This involved trying to tow on foot across the ice to the island the three lifeboats rescued from the Endurance, christened James Caird, Dudley Docker and Stancomb Wills after the expedition”s main sponsors. As this proved an impossible mission due to the terrain, the team re-camped on another ice shelf. They named their new campsite Camp Patience.

In the new campsite, the group spent another three long months of idle anticipation. With food supplies running low, two detachments were sent back to Camp Ocean to transfer as much of the food they had left there as possible to their new accommodation. Meanwhile, the drift had brought them some 105 kilometres from Paulet Island, but the direction of the drift, the fragmented ice field and the embedded icebergs made it impossible to reach the island. They watched helplessly as they drifted further away from it each day until they lost sight of it. Finally, on the evening of 8 April 1916, the ice shelf that had been the campsite broke in two, and the next day, canal-like expanses of free water appeared between the fragmented ice shelves. Shackleton then ordered the three lifeboats to be launched and, before the ice closed in again and crushed the tiny boats, they paddled with all their might towards open water. James Caird was skippered by Shackleton, Dudley Docker by Worsley and Stancomb Wills by Hubert Hudson.

The boats had to navigate through channels that opened and closed between the ice, with the constant fear that the ice sheets could crush the tiny lifeboats at any moment. After five agonising days of danger, the 28 exhausted men, suffering from frostbite, finally landed on Elephant Island. It was the first time in 497 days that they had solid ground under their feet.

But this long-awaited moment was not as joyous as they had hoped. The island was thickly covered in penguin snow and regularly battered by blizzards. Finally, they managed to build a shelter for themselves: a low wall of stones and two boats were put up as a roof. However, everyone knew that with the approaching polar winter, harsh weather and dwindling supplies, they would not be able to stay on this island for long.

Lifeboat to South Georgia

Shackleton decided that he and a few of his men would get into a boat and, however impossible it might seem, try to get to the island of South Georgia, 1,500 km (800 nautical miles) away, to bring help. They have tried to prepare the 6.85-metre lifeboat James Caird for the journey as far as they can. Boatman Harry McNish built a deck for the boat from the lids of crates and then towed it in with sailcloth to make it more watertight. Shackleton chose five men to work alongside him – Captain Frank Worsley, Second Officer Tom Crean, Seamen John Vincent and Timothy McCarthy, and McNish. Shackleton appointed Frank Wild as leader of the group remaining on Elephant Island and ordered him to attempt to reach Deception Island the following spring if they did not return. The team took enough food for six weeks, including the amount they would need on land. On 24 April 1916, the James Caird left Elephant Island and headed across the Atlantic to the island of South Georgia.

The success of the voyage depended on the accuracy of Worsley”s navigation, which required him to take measurements and observations that often had to be made in less than ideal conditions, catching a moment or two of sunshine. Although the wind from the north-west helped their progress, the choppy sea kept flooding the boat with icy water. Soon, the water froze into a thick layer of ice on the sides, deck and sails of the boat, which they had to constantly break up to keep from sinking. The huge waves tossed the James Caird incessantly, the storm anchor broke off, so someone had to be at the helm at all times to keep the boat on course. On 5 May 1916, a huge breaking wave almost destroyed the boat. Shackleton said that in 26 years at sea he had never seen such a huge wave. After two weeks of constant struggle, reaching the limits of their physical endurance and suffering from frostbite, they finally sighted the island of South Georgia on 8 May. Unfortunately for them, a hurricane swept through the area at the same time, and it took another two days for the exhausted crew to finally make landfall on the island in King Haakon Bay.

Crossing the mountains of South Georgia

After their arrival, they spent a few days resting to gain strength for the rest of the journey, as the inhabited areas of the island, the whaling stations, are all located on the north coast of the island. Shackleton eventually decided, because of the condition of James Caird and especially the frailty of his companions Vincent and McNish, that instead of the 240 km boat trip required to circumnavigate the island, he and his two companions Worsley and Crean would cut across the island”s previously untraversed mountain ranges on foot. McNish, Vincent and McCarthy wait in a quiet cove called Peggotty Camp until they are picked up by boat from the whaling station. Although the distance overland was only 54 kilometres as the crow flies, the terrain made the crossing virtually impossible for the people who lived there.The three men set off at dawn on 19 May 1916 with three days” food and minimal equipment. They had to cross mountain ranges, glaciers, frozen rivers and lakes with bitter effort, and even had to descend a waterfall on the way. They had to turn back several times for lack of a passable road and continue their journey around the mountains, searching for a new route, losing precious time. From one of the mountain tops, they slid down into the valley by making a sledge from the ropes, so that the freezing night would not catch them on the top of the mountain. Finally, after 36 hours of steady marching, they arrived at Stromness whaling station in the late afternoon of 20 May, battered, ragged, dirty and dead tired.

The rescue operation

A few hours after arriving at the whaling station, Worsley returned to Pegotty Camp to pick up his companions on the Samson, and Shackleton arranged for a whaling ship, the Southern Sky, to be made available to return to pick up his comrades left on Elephant Island. Less than seventy-two hours after arriving in Stromness, Shackleton and his two companions, Worsley and Crean, set off for Elephant Island. This began a series of rescue attempts that lasted for more than three months, with the ice that was constantly thwarting their efforts. After three days, Southern Sky entered an icy zone and was forced to turn back. Shackleton then arranged for the Uruguayan government to lend him the small scout vessel Institutio de Pesca No. 1, which returned home after six days with serious injuries after hitting an ice floe. It then hired the rickety schooner Emma, which was unable to get within 150 kilometres of Elephant Island due to technical problems. He was then informed that the British Admiralty had authorised the Discovery, Scott”s old ship, to be sent to assist in the rescue operation, but it would be many weeks before the ship arrived. So Shackleton asked the Chilean government for help to use an old seagoing tugboat, the Yelcho. This time, luck was on their side; five days later, on 30 August 1916, they finally reached Elephant Island and picked up their 22 shipwrecked companions. In a letter from Punta Arenas to his wife Emily, Shackleton wrote: “My dear! We have been through hell, but we have lost no one.”

The Ross Sea team

The fate of the Ross Sea team was less fortunate. The team led by Aeneas Mackintosh landed at Cape Evans. The expedition ship Aurora was blown off its anchor by the storm and was swept out to sea, frozen in a sheet of ice. After being freed from the ice, the men remaining on board, led by First Officer Joseph Stenhouse, were forced to return to New Zealand as damaged steering gear did not allow a return to Ross Island. Despite great hardship, the ten-man team that remained on land completed their tasks and built up the depots on the way to the South Pole. When the Aurora reached Cape Evans on 10 January 1917, Shackleton learned that Mackintosh, Arnold Spencer-Smith and Victor Hayward had died during the expedition.

Shackleton himself wrote a book about the expedition, and over the decades a number of other books have been published, some of them travelogues, but also some that have examined the expedition and Shackleton”s role in particular from the perspective of leadership. The story of the expedition has also been the subject of a series of documentaries and a television film starring Kenneth Branagh.

When Shackleton returned to England in May 1917, the First World War was still raging in Europe. By this time he was suffering from heart failure, probably due to the extreme physical strain he had endured on expeditions. Although he was too old for military service at the age of 43, he volunteered for front-line service in France, following the example of his peers. Instead, he finally travelled to Buenos Aires in October 1917, on behalf of the then British Minister of Information, Edward Carson, to persuade the Chilean and Argentine governments to go to war on the side of the Entente Powers. The diplomatic mission was unsuccessful, and he returned to England in April 1918.He was then commissioned by the Northern Exploration Company to explore the mining potential of the Spitsbergen. The so-called front company was in fact backed by the War Office, and the purpose of the trip was to explore the possibility of building a British military base. During the trip, Shackleton, in Tromsø, fell ill, probably from a mild heart attack, and had to return home.

He was promoted to major on 22 July 1918. From October 1918 he served in the Expeditionary Force in northern Russia during the Russian Civil War, under the command of Brigadier-General Edmund Ironside, where he was responsible for preparing and transporting equipment for British forces in the Arctic to Murmansk. The signing of the Compiègne Armistice effectively ended the First World War on 11 November 1918. Shackleton returned to England at the beginning of March 1919, but wished to return to northern Russia with plans to promote the economic development of the region. He sought additional investors to achieve this, but was forced to abandon these plans after the Bolshevik military victory.

For his “valuable service in connection with the military operations in northern Russia”, Shackleton was awarded the Order of the British Empire on the King”s birthday in 1919. He was finally discharged from the army in December 1919, but was allowed to retain his rank of major. In December 1919 he resumed his lecturing tour, and his book on the Endurace expedition, South, was published.


As the 1920s wore on, Shackleton grew increasingly tired of lecture tours, and his attention turned once again to organising a new Arctic expedition. He became seriously interested in an expedition to the Beaufort Sea, which was largely unexplored at the time, and attracted the interest of the Canadian government. The Canadian government”s withdrawal forced him to abandon this plan. With the financial help of a schoolmate from Dulwich, the wealthy businessman John Quiller Rowett, he bought the Norwegian seal-hunting ship Foca I, which he renamed Quest. And his old friend Hugh Robert Mill of the Royal Geographical Society helped devise the scientific programme for the expedition. After a year of planning, Shackleton launched the British Oceanographic and Sub-Antarctic Expedition. Rowett eventually underwrote the entire cost of the expedition, and the official name of the expedition eventually became the Shackleton-Rowett Expedition, often referred to as the Quest Expedition after the expedition ship. The aim was to sail around Antarctica and map its coastline, discover remote islands and conduct extensive marine research. Shackleton, always at the forefront of the latest technological advances, this time took a seaplane with him. Eight members of the Endurance expedition joined the 18-strong crew: second-in-command Frank Wild, captain Frank Worsley, doctors Dr Alexander Macklin and Dr James Mcllroy, meteorologist Leonard Hussey, engine officer A J Kerr, seaman Thomas McLeod and cook Charles Green. Among the new arrivals was Roderick Carr, a New Zealand-born Royal Air Force pilot who also assisted with general scientific work. The scientific staff included Australian biologist Hubert Wilkins, with Arctic experience, and Canadian geologist Vibert Douglas.

The Quest Way

The Quest left London on 17 September 1921. The expedition was plagued by bad luck from the start. The ship had numerous structural faults and had to stop at several ports en route (including Lisbon and Madeira and Cape Verde) for major repairs. The forced stops had already disrupted the expedition”s planned schedule, so Shackleton decided to head for Rio de Janeiro to have all parts of the ship fully repaired. Quest arrived in Rio on 22 November 1921. Due to repairs to the ship, which took four weeks, the itinerary had to be changed again and it was decided to sail directly to Grytviken in southern Georgia from Rio. On 17 December, a day before the scheduled departure, Shackleton became unwell, possibly suffering a heart attack. Macklin wanted to examine him, but Shackleton dismissed this by saying that he was feeling better.

On Christmas Day, the Quest was caught in a hurricane-force storm, and for five days they tried to get out of it without success. Shackleton later told his men that he had never seen such a huge storm before. The men were completely exhausted by the time they reached the island of Grytviken in South Georgia on 4 January 1922.

The death of Shackleton

Arriving in Grytviken, Shackleton was assailed by old memories. He told the new crew members stories of the memorable boat trip and how he and his two companions had crossed the island on foot. He was glad to be back in his element. That night, he wrote in his diary that it had been a “wonderful night” and concluded the entry with a poetic reflection. A few hours later, at dawn, Shackleton called the expedition”s doctor, Alexander Macklin, to his cabin, complaining of severe back pain and malaise. Macklin said he advised him to lead a more balanced life as he was overworking himself. He replied, “You always want me to give up something. What else should I give up?”. Moments later, at 2:50 a.m. on January 5, 1922, Shackleton was dead. He had died of a heart attack.

Leonard Hussey, a veteran of the Endurance expedition, has agreed to arrange transport of the body to Britain. In Montevideo, he received a message from Shackleton”s wife Emily saying that it was her wish that her husband be buried at Grytviken in southern Georgia. Hussey returned with the coffin on the steamer Woodville to the island of South Georgia, where Shackleton was laid to rest in the local cemetery on 5 March 1922, following a short service at the Lutheran Church in Grytviken. As the expedition had already left the island, only Hussey and the Norwegian whalers attended the service. Initially the grave site was marked by a simple wooden cross, which was replaced in 1928 by a more granite headstone. On the back of the monument is a quote from Robert Browning”s poem The Statue and the Bust: “I hold … that a man should strive to the uttermost for life”s set price.” (“I hold that a man should strive to make the most of what life has set him.”) Macklin later recorded in his diary, “I think that is what the ”Boss” would have wished for himself: to stand alone on a lonely island, far from civilization, surrounded by stormy seas, in the immediate vicinity of his greatest exploits.”

The crew decided to continue the expedition under Wild”s leadership, as Shackleton had originally planned. After several unsuccessful attempts to cross the ice, as coal supplies were dwindling, they finally returned to South Georgia on 6 April without any significant results. To honour the memory of the “Chief”, the team members built an oak-framed stone mound on a hillside overlooking the entrance to Grytviken harbour, on which they inscribed: “Here died the explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, 5 January 1922. Inscribed by his comrades.”

Shackleton”s death marked the end of the so-called golden age of Antarctic exploration, a time when the geographic and scientific exploration of this largely unknown continent was still being carried out by traditional voyages of discovery without the modern technology of today.

Arctic explorer Apsley Cherry-Garrard, in the foreword to his book The Worst Journey in the World, summed up the importance of the greatest figures in South Pole exploration as follows: ”For organising a joint scientific and geographical exploration, choose Scott; for reaching the pole quickly and for nothing else, choose Amundsen; but if you are in a devil”s hole and want to get out, choose Shackleton alone.”

The forgotten then rediscovered Shackleton

When Shackleton”s ashes arrived in Montevideo, the Uruguayan government declared a national mourning. One hundred marines escorted his coffin, draped in a British flag, to the military hospital. On 14 February 1922, the coffin was laid to rest at the Holy Trinity Church in Montevideo, where President Baltasar Brum and several government officials paid their respects to Shackleton. On 2 March, a memorial service was held at St Paul”s Cathedral in London, attended by King George V and several members of the royal family.Within a year, the first biographical book on Shackleton was published, authored by his friend Hugh Robert Mill. This book was not just a tribute to the explorer, but was also intended to help the family, who were in serious debt, to raise funds. A further initiative was the creation of the Shackleton Memorial Fund to provide financial support for the education of Shackleton”s children and for Shackleton”s mother.

In the decades that followed, Shackleton”s popularity dimmed alongside his rival, Captain Scott. In Britain alone, more than 30 monuments and statues have been erected in Scott”s honour. In contrast, it was not until 1932 that the first public statue of Shackleton was made, by sculptor Charles Sargeant Jagger to a design by Edwin Lutyens, and placed on the front of the Royal Geographical Society building. The press was more interested in the tragic fate of Scott and his companions, who lost their lives on the return journey after reaching the South Pole. Apart from Mill”s biography, the only other printed publication dealing with Shackleton until the 1950s was the forty-page booklet published by Oxford University Press in 1943 as part of the Great Exploits series.

The 1950s saw a turning point in the appreciation of Shackleton.The widely acclaimed biography of Margery and James Fisher, Shackleton, was published in 1957, followed in 1959 by Alfred Lansing”s Endurance: Shackleton”s Incredible Voyage, which told the story of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. These books painted a very positive overall picture of Shackleton. At the same time, the negative perception of Scott changed, most notably in Roland Huntford”s 1979 book Scott and Amundsen. The negative perception of Scott became widely accepted at this time, as the heroic heroic type embodied by Scott had also become a victim of the shift in cultural values at the end of the 20th century. Within a few years, Shackleton”s popularity had surpassed Scott”s. This is illustrated by the BBC”s 2002 poll of the 100 Greatest British Titles, in which Shackleton came 11th and Scott only 54th. Shackleton”s popularity is also reflected in the fact that a cigarette box containing biscuits from the Endurance expedition sold for £7,638 at Christie”s auction in 2001, while at another auction in 2011, a biscuit from Huntley & Palmer”s, found at the Nimrod expedition camp at Royds Cape, sold for £1,250.

At the beginning of the new millennium, Shackleton”s ability to motivate his subordinates to achieve peak performance in seemingly hopeless situations was discovered by management consultants. Their research focused on his leadership skills and methods and how to translate them into everyday life. In 2001, Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell published The Shackleton Model (The South Pole Expedition as Leadership Theory), in which the authors present Shackleton”s leadership methods as an example for today”s leaders. The Centre for Management Studies at the University of Exeter has developed a business seminar based on Shackleton”s methods, which has been made a part of the management curriculum at several universities in Britain and the United States. In 1998, a “Shackleton School” was established in Boston, with a curriculum based on “learning expeditions” combining school subjects and field trips. The Athy Heritage Centre Museum in Ireland has set up a separate Shackleton Museum, which has run the Ernest Shackleton Autumn School every year since 2001.

Crossings of the Antarctic

Shackleton”s dream of crossing Antarctica was finally realised some 40 years later by Mount Everest conqueror Edmund Hillary and British polar explorer Vivian Fuchs, who crossed the continent in 99 days as part of the 1957-58 Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition. In an interview later, Hillary said that Shackleton had been one of his role models since childhood. The second land crossing did not take place until 1981, during the Transglobe expedition led by Ranulph Fiennes. Both expeditions were carried out using the modern technology of the time and with considerable back-up.

In 1989-1990, Reinhold Messner and Arved Fuchs crossed the Antarctic on foot, while the Norwegian Børge Ousland was the first to make the crossing alone in 1996-1997. In 2000, Arved Fuchs repeated Shackleton”s boat trip from Elephant Island to South Georgia, using a replica of the James Caird but with the help of modern navigation and communication technologies. The expedition also included Shackleton, Worsley and Crean”s crossing of South Georgia. At the turn of 2008-2009, under the leadership of Captain Frank Worsley”s descendant Henry Worsley, members of the Shackleton Centenary Expedition reached the South Pole on the route of the Nimrod Expedition. Worsley finally died on 24 January 2016, a few days after attempting to cross Antarctica alone, but due to dehydration he had to abort his journey 48 km from the finish line and call for help.

Krisztina Bátori Kovalcsikné and Zoltán Ács were the first Hungarians to reach the South Pole on 16 January 2005, as part of an international team, who covered the last latitude of 111 km in 12 days. The first Hungarian to reach the South Pole from the coast was Gábor Rakonczay, who and his companions covered the 950 km distance on the Messner-Fuchs route in 44 days, reaching the pole on 7 January 2019.

Shackleton research

On 20 November 1998, the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge opened the Shackleton Memorial Library, where original documents from Shackleton”s research voyages are archived and processed. Every autumn since 2001, the Athy Museum of Cultural History, near his birthplace, has held a temporary exhibition every year in the autumn to commemorate Ernest Shackleton and his achievements in polar exploration.

The New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Foundation has preserved the hut built during the Nimrod expedition at Cape Royds, which is considered an international heritage site in New Zealand.In January 2010, Foundation staff found three cases of whisky and two cases of brandy under the hut”s plank floor. The bottles, which had been resting in the frozen ground of the Antarctic for more than 100 years, were found untouched, with the liquor still dangling inside. Glasgow-based Whyte and Mackay Ltd. has set out to recreate a limited edition of the century-old drink based on the find. Part of the proceeds from the sale will go to support the Foundation, which is working to preserve the campsites set up for Shackleton and Scott.

Since the late 1990s, several search expeditions have been organised to find the wreck of Shackleton”s legendary ship, the Endurance, which sank to the bottom of the Weddell Sea in 1915, but they have not been successful. However, the absence of micro-organisms that could damage the wooden structure and the extreme cold of the location made it likely that the wreck would have survived in a roughly recognisable state after more than a century of disappearance. The aim of the expedition was to search for, survey and document the wreckage of the ship and to collect scientific data on the weather and ice sheet characteristics of the Weddell Sea. The wrecks were searched using the Swedish-made Sabertooth robotic vehicle developed by Saab, equipped with cameras and sonars. Finally, on 5 March 2022, the wreck was found 3008 metres below the surface, about 6.5 kilometres south of where Captain Frank Worsley had originally marked the sinking site. Photographs of the remains show the wreck preserved almost intact, with the Endurance inscription clearly visible on the stern. The Endurance, as a protected historic site and monument under the Antarctic Treaty, must be left intact and only photographed by researchers. The search for the ship has been the subject of a documentary by the National Geographic Channel, along with several film crews travelling with the expedition.

For his services to the exploration of Antarctica, Shackleton has received numerous state and civil honours both at home and abroad, and has been made an honorary member of numerous scientific societies, educational institutions and social organisations.

External links


  1. Ernest Shackleton
  2. Ernest Shackleton