Shackleton’s Journey re-enacted

7 Feb

An Anglo-Austrian team is attempting to recreate  Shackleton’s epic journey from Elephant Island to the whaling base in South Georgia. 800 miles by sea through the tempestuous Drake’s Passage and then the terrifying crossing over South Georgia.

The team led by Tim Jarvis have already completed the first part of the journey. They are at Peggotty Bay in South Georgia and will start the attempt to cross the island to-night. They made the stupendous journey from Elephant Island in 12 days, a little shorter than Shackleton. However Shackleton by this time, had already been battling against the elements for 16 months since he left South Georgia in December 1914 on the first leg of his attempt to cross Antarctica.

Shackleton’s journey from Elephant Island was terrifying. Six man in a  25 foot boat, the ‘James Caird’. She lifted over 50 feet waves–plunging from the crests of the waves into deep ‘holes’ where waves and ice blocks towered over them.   Frank Worsley, who navigated, was a hero.  In their 4 hour shifts the  six bailed, navigated, ate. In their rest periods they lay on the shingle ballast , soaked and probably sleepless. They landed at the wrong side of South Georgia, hence the horrifying climb across uncharted mountains that Tim Jarvis’ team will start to-day.

Shackleton crossed the island with two companions, but he wrote later that he felt there was a fourth invisible presence with them and guiding them; a concept later taken up by T.S.Eliot in The Waste Land

Shackleton did not achieve  the goal he had set himself, to cross Antarctica, but some failures are more glorious than success. His expedition was an inspiring example of endurance under suffering,

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