“From the sentimental point of view, it is the last great Polar journey that can be made.”
- Sir Ernest Shackleton, Expedition Prospectus
In 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton set out from England on a daring expedition. His goal: the first crossing of the Antarctic continent.
This was not Shackleton's first journey to Antarctica. Like a handful of other explorers at the beginning of the 20th century, Shackleton had been determined to venture to the mysterious continent at the bottom of the earth. And although these early expeditions were intent on scientific advancement, the grand prize was the South Pole--unclaimed territory, where no human had ever stood.
Shackleton first headed south in 1901, accompanying Robert F. Scott on an unsuccessful bid for the Pole. Six years later Shackleton set out again, leading his own expedition to 88° south and coming within approximately 100 miles of his goal, further south than anyone had gone before. Here, taking stock of his party's failing supplies and health, Shackleton made the heartbreaking decision to turn back. In 1911, the race was finally won by Roald Amundsen of Norway.
In 1914, with the prize of the Pole having been claimed, Shackleton embarked on a new challenge--to cross the entire continent on foot, from the Weddell to the Ross Sea. Leaving the island of South Georgia in December, his ship Endurance battled her way through pack ice toward the continent. But while deep in the pack of the Weddell Sea, the ship was trapped and slowly crushed by the ice.
Shackleton and his men became castaways in one of the most hostile environments on earth. The expedition was a failure--yet the unimaginable saga of survival that followed ensured that it was for this, the failed Endurance expedition, that Shackleton is ultimately most remembered.