The Crossing main content.

The Crossing

Part of the Shackleton exhibition.

"The final stage of the journey had still to be attempted.... Over on Elephant Island 22 men were waiting for the relief that we alone could secure for them. Their plight was worse than ours. We must push on somehow."

- Sir Ernest Shackleton, South

On May 10, 1916, the James Caird landed at the island of South Georgia. This feat, a miracle of navigation as much as seamanship and endurance, is widely regarded as the greatest boat journey ever accomplished.

The condition of the boat, shortage of drinking water and deteriorating health of one of the men forced the group to land on the island's uninhabited western shore. Ships and relief lay on the opposite side.

On May 19, only ten days after landing and with their feet still numb from frostbite, Shackleton, Worsley and Crean set out on foot for the whaling stations, a journey of 22 miles across the mountainous interior of an island that had never been mapped. Their sole equipment was a carpenter's adze, 90 feet of rope, and a compass, while screws from the Caird provided traction for their worn shoes. The men carried food for three days: any longer they knew would be beyond their limits.