Beset main content.


Part of the Shackleton exhibition.

"Monday 18th Lat 76.27 S Long- 28.46 W We have done 23 miles but we have come to a full stop again I think we will have to wait untill it opens up a bit as it is very heavy ice...."

- Diary of Henry "Chippy" McNish

A map of Antarctica showing the path from South Georgia Island to the location of the ship trapped in ice on 19 January 1915.

On January 18, only one day short of her destination, the Endurance entered dense pack ice. Reluctant to use the enormous steam power required to push through it, Shackleton and Captain Worsley waited for an opening. In the night, however, the ice closed around the ship. A northeasterly gale wind arose, compressing the ice tightly against the continental shore--and the ship within it. Several days passed before the expedition realized they were trapped until the austral spring--some nine months away.

Photo of ship Endurance trapped in Antarctic ice from 1915 Shackleton voyage

Frank Hurley's images of the beset Endurance are some of the very best of his extraordinary photographic record. Technically perfect, they also radiate his steadfast wonder for the Antarctic landscape.

"The air is so exhilarating, that one can scarce refrain from bursting into song and singing thy charms, oh wondrous land!" he wrote in his diary at the end of the long winter. Hurley's reverence was to be severely tested by the ordeal that lay ahead--but it never wavered.

August 27, 1915. "During the night take flashlight of ship beset by pressure. This necessitated some 20 flashes, one behind each salient pressure hummock, no less than 10 flashes being required to satisfactorily illuminate the ship herself. Half blinded after the successive flashes, I lost my bearings amidst hummocks, bumping shins against projecting ice points & stumbling into deep snow drifts." - Hurley, diary