If they succeeded it would be one of the most outrageous feats in maritime history. Ernest Shackleton was born in Kilkea, Ireland in 1874. Amundsen, arguably the greatest polar explorer of all time – "the sailor on skis" he was called in his youth – made it look too easy. Dogs barked. Through it all Shackleton remained undaunted, undiminished, coiled for the moment, watchful of every condition at sea, in his crew, and in the boat itself, how it handed the weather and waves. It was his final ambition to be the first to lead an historic expedition across the continent. Shackleton’s challenges may not on the surface look much like our own. Chippy McNeish fixed screws through the soles of their boots, as crampons. He and Wild went over every contingency. Standing beside her, we glanced at the fringe of storm-swept, tumultuous seas that formed our path. They took a Primus stove, enough food for four meals, the clothes on their backs, and one 50-foot length of rope. And their friends on Elephant Island would almost certainly perish. And now this. If they failed, they would be lost at sea, a footnote. This would be his third and last exploration of the Antarctic during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration around the time of World War I. The 1914-1917 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition… is widely recognised as one of the all-time greatest feats of exploration and courage.Led by Ernest Shackleton, the ambition was to make the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent. These men, if they were men, must be another species. He knew the joy of their great accomplishment might blind them to new dangers. In my case, it is the regeneration or rehabilitation of the damaged spinal cord. The James Caird made good time, moving north early on, to avoid ice. Winds gusted to 120 knots. When they landed here on April 15, 1916, it was their first time on solid ground in 497 days. It took Shackleton four attempts over 100 days (using four different vessels, eventually succeeding with a Chilean tug) to reach Wild and the others on Elephant Island. Shackleton expedition-grade apparel is engineered for extremes, combining world-class high performance fabrics and materials with supreme refinement. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! That night, as his men settled into tents and sleeping bags salvaged from the sinking ship, Shackleton wrote in his diary, “A man must shape himself to a new mark directly the old one goes to ground. If they shot past South Georgia in heavy seas, they'd have slim chance of coming about, their boat being so small and light of canvas. Since I got back from Harvard, I’ve been considering how this applies to spinal cord injuries. ", but it established Shackleton as a "bona fide English hero" (Books on Ice). For the first two weeks in April, I sat in a classroom in the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. It began early, with the Antarctic geologist Sir Raymond Priestley, who wrote: "For scientific leadership, give me Scott; for safe and efficient travel, Amundsen; but when you are in a hopeless situation, when there seems to be no way out, get on your knees and pray for Shackleton.". You can convey my love to my people and say I tried my best. Incomparable in adversity, he was the miracle worker who would save your life against all the odds and long after your number was up. For speed and efficiency give me Amundsen. I finally found the words in Harvard to explain what I was seeing in my research and my life. Clearly our voyage would be a big adventure.". He lived in the shadow of Robert Falcon Scott who had died on the ice, proving it's better to fail flamboyantly than it is to succeed quietly, as Scott's adversary Roald Amundsen had done. Shackleton had always dreamed of a small boat journey across epic big water. No doubt some of the men left stranded in 1916 did pray that Shackleton and his five men would reach salvation – the whaling station at Stromness on the north shore of South Georgia – which of course, they did. A rogue wave swamped them. By the evening of April 23, the wind began to abate. They endured. Having made his decision, Shackleton said he "walked through the blizzard with Worsley and Wild to examine the James Caird." "These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale," Scott had written as he and his doomed tent-mates lay dying on the Ross Ice Shelf, starving, freezing, pinned down by ferocious winds. They cooked two hot meals per day on a Primus stove, pinning it between their feet so it wouldn't pitch overboard. Born in 1874, Shackleton was a British Antarctic explorer who set many world records. They tied off their rope and lowered themselves through the cold, raging water. Ernest H. Shackleton - Expedition Leader (40) "Scott for scientific method, Amundsen for speed and efficiency but when disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton." But when disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton.” –Conrad Combrink. The Boss would take the best of the three boats, the James Caird, a little over 20 feet long, 6 feet at the beam. The big Norwegian turned away and cried. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. Nearly everybody had forgotten about the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. They'd go light and fast; either make it or die trying. But, in unpredictable circumstances, this kind of structure can be inadequate. ( Log Out /  In 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton set off aboard the ship Endurance on an expedition to be the first to cross Antarctica. “Scott for scientific method, Amundsen for speed and efficiency but when disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton” (Shackleton’s contemporary Sir Raymond Priestley in a speech to the British Science Association in 1956.) Without it I wouldn’t be back at work, back living a life. © 2021 Anchorage Daily News. Shackleton was involved in many expeditions attempting to reach the South Pole. For decades, Shackleton was called a "splendid failure." ( Log Out /  Kim Heacox is the author of several books, most recently the novel "Jimmy Bluefeather," winner of the 2015 National Outdoor Book Award. They can predict with amazing accuracy the physical and mental progression of a young man or woman suddenly paralysed and needing to get out of bed, into a wheelchair and back to living life. What to do? He and his expedition had departed from South Georgia in early December, 1914. For the … "…May God prosper your work and your life. For an entire afternoon, we discussed leadership failures and successes against a backdrop of extremes. Sir Edmund Hillary, who with Tenzing Norgay conquered Mount Everest in 1953, is another admirer. But dear God, their appearance: dirty, matted hair; red-rimmed eyes; thin, tired faces blackened by months huddled over stoves cooking seal meat and penguin. Sir Raymond Priestley, an explorer who accompanied Shackleton on the 1907-1913 Antarctic expedition, said, "For scientific leadership, give me Scott; for swift and efficient travel, Amundsen; but when you are in a hopeless situation, when there seems to be no way out, get on your knees and pray for Shackleton." The next thing we'll pray for, we'll pray for some money, some glorious, glorious, glorious money. "Scott for scientific method, Amundsen for speed and efficiency but when disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton." I pray God I can manage to get the whole party to civilization.”3 . [Attributed to Raymond Priestly but appears in essence elsewhere including in Cherry-Garrard's Worst Journey in the World (see previous)]. It was as if his entire life had been in preparation for this. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@alaskadispatch.com or click here to submit via any web browser. It was time to move, or die. Another had frostbitten feet. We started with the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, through the 2010 Chilean mining rescue, the BP oil spill in The Gulf of Mexico and we spent an entire morning on the Shackleton expedition of 1914 – 1916. When they walked into Stromness Whaling Station on the afternoon of May 20, 1916, people stared. Born in Kilkea, County Kildare, Ireland, Shackleton, and his family moved to Sydenham in suburban south London when he was ten. Shackleton directed crewmen to melt ice from a nearby glacier to fill water casks. Finally the Boss wrote a letter to Wild asking him to be ever faithful, to watch over the men he'd brought to Antarctica, men who now deserved to get safely home: "I have every confidence in you and always have had," he began. I was part of a group of 65 Young Global Leaders from around the world. "Your voice is familiar," the manager replied. The other 22 men would remain behind under the command of Wild, a scrappy Antarctic veteran, the only member of the expedition who had more Antarctic experience than Shackleton. “For scientific leadership, give me Scott, for swift and efficient travel, Amundsen. Sir Ernest Shackleton walked the rocky, icy beach with his right-hand man, Frank Wild, and again went over their dire situation, their outrageous plan. 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