Into the Ice

"Pack-ice might be described as a gigantic and interminable jigsaw-puzzle devised by nature."

- Sir Ernest Shackleton, South


The Endurance set sail from South Georgia at 8:45 a.m. on December 5, 1914; on the evening of December 7, she encountered the first pack ice. For the next six weeks, the ship dodged and weaved between loose floes, or--particularly under the watch of her high-spirited captain, Frank Worsley--rammed through them. Judging from their surviving diaries, a majority of the men seemed to regard this journey as at worst incon-venient, at best thrilling.


"All day we have been utilizing the ship as a battering ram," Hurley wrote in his diary on December 17, 1914. "We admire our sturdy little ship, which seems to take a delight herself in combating our common enemy, shattering the floes in grand style." Few seem to have doubted that the Endurance would eventually win her way through to her destination--Vahsel Bay, on the Antarctic continent.