The Shackleton Epic Expedition to be led by Tim Jarvis in 2012 has named its newly commissioned replica of the James Caird. It is to be called the Alexandra Shackleton after Sir Ernest's granddaughter and the Society's President.
The James Caird Society Newsletter reports that the boat has been built at the International Boatbuilding College at Lowestoft (the original James Caird was built to Frank Worsley's specification at London's East India Docks) under the supervision of Nat Wilson.
The Alexandra Shackleton will begin sea trials in 2011.
Though the builders have been scrupulous to match the essential outer features of the James Caird, Nat explains that inevitably in some respects she is not, or cannot be, an absolutely exact replica.
For various reasons, instead of expensive Baltic pine planking on steamed oak timbers, European larch from Scotland has been used. Additional watertight bulkheading has been added for safety.
The replica has a full deck of pine boards and canvas, whereas the original - initially timber planked only fore and aft - was further decked by 'Chippy' McNeish with dismantled sledges and canvas.
On the ice McNeish built up the James Caird's sides by three planks fitted to the hull with short timbers, also extending the stem at the bow and the stern. To strengthen the keel and allow a mast step for the main mast he bolted a section of a spar onto the hog/keel. The Alexandra Shackleton follows the same principles. The mizzen mast was stepped on the aft athwart.
The plank seams are caulked with cotton, as they were with the original James Caird, and the boat's seams are paid up with a mixture of putty and white lead paste. Originally McNeish & co. had to make use of George Marston's oil paints for this touching-up process!
Tim Jarvis and his team-mate, Australian sailor Don McIntyre, are now in the midst of preparation and fundraising for the Shackleton Epic expedition, a retracing of Sir Ernest and his brave colleagues' lifesaving dash from Elephant Island to South Georgia and arduous crossing of the mountains - some 40 miles of perilous climbing and trekking - to find help for the marooned Endurance crew.
The reenactment is now scheduled to take place between March and May 2012.
At a gathering in London in September 2010 Tim outlined some of the extreme hazards for Antarctic explorers of Shackleton's era, as experienced by Tim himself on his own previous expedition following in Douglas Mawson's footsteps. These included:
Having to pull all your equipment, rations and shelter on a man-hauled sledge; chafing and frostbite accentuated by old Burberry clothes and leather boots; loosening and loss of teeth fillings. When sleeping in authentic reindeer skin bags, one's body heat melted the snow underneath, causing the bags to become sodden. It then froze during the day and became sodden again at night after a long day's journey.
Food was at a minimum, consisting of a starvation ration of pemmican (dried reindeer meat and lard), 5 boiled sweets, some meat 'jerky' (dried long slices) and a tea bag reused morning and night. A good way to lose several stone!
Don will captain the replica James Caird, which is to be named the Alexandra Shackleton, in honour of Shackleton's granddaughter, the President of the James Caird Society. He and his number 2, Dave Pryce, were both on the authentic and successful reenactment of the journey of Captain Bligh, following the Mutiny on the Bounty.
The National Maritime Museum magazine reports that in February 2010 a team of explorers inspired by the heroic spirit of Shackleton set off to document photographically a part of Antarctica, the world's last pristine wilderness.
The route of the 19-day Elysium Epic expedition roughly followed the track of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew after they lost the Endurance. This took them to the Weddell Sea, then across the treacherous Drake Passage and on to South Georgia.
One of the primary objectives of the expedition's leader, award-winning underwater photographer Michael AW, Director of the Ocean Geographic Society and founding director of the conservation charity OceanNEnvironment, and his team was to document faithfully, in present time, the sights and sounds of the region that those early 20th Century explorers would have experienced. It is, he said, "about extraordinary explorers using advanced imaging technologies to document the last wilderness on our planet. The aim of the project is to provide a visual library that documents the flora and fauna of Antarctica, and to produce a documentary feature and book to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the heroic legendary expedition of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Trans Antarctic challenge in 1914b
The 57-member team came from 18 countries and included artists, photographers, film-makers, musicians and scientists. They included Emory Kristof, who with Robert Ballard discovered the wreck of the Titanic; the celebrated photographer David Doubilet (of National Geographic fame); and Jonathan Shackleton, Sir Ernest's cousin, who as expedition historian provided accounts of early explorations of Antarctica, including the first sightings in 1820 and first landing in 1821.
During the Elysium project they produced evidence of the rapid warming of the Antarctic Peninsula: the reductions in sea ice, ice sheet collapse and increases in air and water temperatures are major areas of concern. Rain is quite common and it and soft snowfalls create a significant threat to marine life. Gentoo, Adelie, Chinstrap and King penguins were noted, and crabeater, leopard, Weddell and fur seals. All are dependent on krill (small crustaceans) for their food, which can be abundant one year and almost absent the next.
Their landing on Elephant Island was notable for the presence of fur seals at Cape Wild, which are recovering after man's depredations in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The glaciers draining the icecaps of the peninsula and surrounding islands are also shrinking. The thunderous calving of icebergs and rumble of avalanches were evidence of this. The abundance of wildlife on South Georgia was gratifying, and included reindeer roaming the hillsides. Among the birds in evidence were albatrosses and petrels.
The National Maritime Museum is exploring the possibility of hosting the world premiere of the Elysium Epic exhibition. The Elysium Epic book will be published in 2013, in time for the centenary of the Endurance expedition.
In 1916, legendary polar explorer Ernest Shackleton and 5 companions completed an incredible journey sailing a small rowing boat, the James Caird, across 800 miles of the roughest ocean in the world from Elephant Island, off the Antarctic Peninsula, to mountainous South Georgia Island. On reaching South Georgia, Shackleton and 2 men then scaled the island's precipitous peaks with virtually no equipment to reach a remote whaling station.
Shackleton's original goal had been to be the first to cross Antarctica. With the sinking of his ship the Endurance in the pack ice, it instead became a journey of survival, both for the 6 men in the James Caird and for the 22 men left behind on Elephant Island, whose rescue depended on their success...
To this day, no-one has successfully completed Shackleton's 'double' - the boat journey and the mountain crossing of South Georgia.
In 2013, Tim Jarvis will head up a team that will attempt the journey under the patronage of The Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, granddaughter and closest direct descendant of Sir Ernest.
Dubbed "The Shackleton Epic", the expedition will set sail from Elephant Island in the Alexandra Shackleton, a replica of the James Caird and will use only 1916 technology, food and equipment.
"The expedition is in honour of Shackleton's legacy," Tim explains. "It demonstrates how a group of people from different nations are able to put their differences aside to work towards the achievement of a goal against seemingly insurmountable odds, a message that resonates powerfully in our modern world."
"Shackleton's leadership style is central to curricula at many business schools, with his management lessons remaining highly relevant today. Whether it be looking at environmental issues such as climate change, or the state of disarray in the credit markets, Shackleton's message of individuals putting differences aside and working to their strengths to collectively overcome problems, regardless of their scale, has real resonance."
By way of demonstrating Shackleton's ongoing popularity, Shackleton's Way by Margot Morrell has become a seminal management reference book, selling more than 300,000 copies worldwide.
As an environmental scientist and motivational speaker, Tim Jarvis draws on Shackleton's leadership in many of his presentations, and this journey will enable Tim to bring this to life for corporate audiences.
The expedition will furthermore start from Elephant Island, off the Antarctic peninsula, adjacent to where much of Antarctica's ice cap melt has occurred, several hundred kilometres from the infamous Larsen B Ice Shelf.
In his capacity as an environmental scientist, Tim Jarvis aims to document visually the status of Antarctic ice as part of ongoing interest in the field.
The successful launch and completion of the Shackleton Centenary Expedition (1909/2009) coincided with the launch of The Shackleton Foundation, which exists to support and encourage people who might not have the chance to reach their own Antarctic - especially those who are disadvantaged.
An introductory film was made to outline the aims of the Foundation.
|Visit Pelagic's website|
On 24th April 2009 the Shackleton Epic Expedition will be launched at Dulwich College, Shackleton's old school and now the final resting place of the James Caird. Details of how you can obtain tickets (£25) are given below.
24th April marks the anniversary of the day Sir Ernest Shackleton and five companions embarked on the now legendary voyage of the tiny James Caird, crossing 800 miles of storm-tossed Southern Ocean from Elephant Island to South Georgia. There they climbed the unknown mountainous interior of the island and eventually rescued Shackleton's men from Elephant Island.
There will be a reception, a mini-auction and a lecture by the Expedition leader, Tim Jarvis, an environmental scientist and veteran of 16 expeditions.
The South Australian Polar adventurer also recently completed with a colleague the first unsupported crossing of Australia's largest desert, the remote Great Victoria Desert, spanning an area of almost 350,000km². The ABC and Channel 4 film Mawson: Life and Death in Antarctica won film awards following Tim and colleague John Stoukalo's expedition to re-enact the polar survival journey of Sir Douglas Mawson using the same 1912 clothing, equipment and starvation rations as Mawson would have had. He has navigated through sub-zero Arctic temperatures on Spitzbergen and at the North Pole.
For his Transantarctic Expedition at the millennium (1999-2000) Tim and his colleagues set themselves the mammoth task of manhauling sleds weighing 220kgs over 2,800km at altitudes of up to 4,000 metres and temperatures as low as –45C (a domestic freezer is about –5C).
Meanwhile the Shackleton Epic Expedition's plans are well advanced. A replica of the James Caird is presently being built. Tim's aim is to "do the double", i.e. complete both Shackleton's boat journey and Shackleton, Worsley and Crean's arduous 36-hour trek across the (then uncharted) mountains of South Georgia. There have been several not entirely successful attempts in the past to complete both undertakings exactly and in rapid succession.
The Shackleton Epic Expedition, a tribute to Sir Ernest Shackleton's unique brand of leadership, will depart in 2010. In order to get closer to the spirit of 1916, a sextant will be used on the boat journey - no GPS - and the Expedition will wear original-type clothing and eat original-type food.
The Patrons of the Expedition are the Master of Dulwich College, Graham Able MA, and The Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, granddaughter of Sir Ernest and President of the James Caird Society.
Tickets to this special launch event are available and cost £25 (please makes cheques payable to The Shackleton Epic Expedition) and can be obtained from Anna Thomsen, 54 Bendermeer Road, Putney, London SW15 1JU. Please enclose a stamped addressed envelope. (Donations are also welcome.)
Dulwich College SE23 is in South London and lies on the South Circular Road just east of West Dulwich Station, which can be reached from Victoria Station.
A little over a century on from the day of Shackleton's 'Furthest South' of 9 Jan 1909 (88° 23'), when the Anglo-Irish explorer was forced to turn back just 97 miles from his goal, the Daily Telegraph was able to report that the previous Sunday (15 Jan) at 9 a.m. GMT, after a gruelling 900-mile journey across the ice on foot, three descendants or relations of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his original team - Lt. Colonel Henry Worsley MBE (47), Mr. Will Gow (35) and Mr. Henry Adams (34) - completed the whole journey and arrived at the South Pole.
The paper reported that 'The three set off on November 13 and hauled 300 lb sledges for up to 10 hours a day, in temperatures that dropped as low as -62F (-52C). They had the benefits of modern equipment and navigational aids - as well as carrying Shackleton's compass with them - but did not have the ponies and dogs that helped their ancestors. They crossed the vast Ross Ice Shelf, ascended the formidable 100-mile long Beardmore Glacier and trudged across the windswept polar plateau.'
Only two previous expeditions, it pointed out, had succeeded in reaching the Pole along this route: Scott's in 1912 and Robert Swan's in 1986. Although the Beardmore route (which Amundsen - who made it first, in December 1911 - elected not to follow) is some 200 miles longer than the route usually taken by Antarctic explorers, the Shackleton descendants wanted to follow as closely as possible in the footsteps of their forebears.
Speaking via satellite phone, Worsley reported: "We're absolutely ecstatic. The past 65 days have been physically gruelling and mentally exhausting, but this moment makes it all very, very worthwhile.
"Ever since I was a child, completing this journey has been my lifetime ambition. To stand here, with Shackleton's own compass, which never made it to this point all those years ago, is a humbling experience."
The three other members of the expedition - Tim Fright (25), David Cornell (38) and Andrew Ledger (23)- flew out to the 'Furthest South' point on 9 January 9 to commemorate the centenary and make their own way for the final 97 miles of the journey.
Their 'Matrix Shackleton Centenary Expedition', of which the James Caird Society was one of the first supporters, is also being used as a launchpad for a £10 million Shackleton Foundation, which will fund projects that embody the explorer's spirit and hunger for "calculated risk".
The Shackleton Foundation supports individuals of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds who exemplify the spirit of Sir Ernest Shackleton: inspirational leaders wishing to "make a difference", in particular to the less advantaged. The Expedition's website explains:
"The Foundation exists to support and encourage people who may not otherwise have the opportunity to identify and cross their own Antarctic, particularly where the applicant's chosen project can be shown to directly benefit the less advantaged. Whilst we support projects within and outside the physical arena, it is evidence of Shackleton's spirit that we seek. We believe that singular people making singular contributions to the public good can act as beacons of inspiration, and we wish to support them in their endeavours.
"The Foundation hopes that beneficiaries will develop or possess the personal qualities that define leadership: a fierce personal commitment to succeed, a willingness to take intelligent risks, and the ability to inspire and energise those around them to do their utmost towards worthwhile causes.
Sample from the Matrix Expedition's diary/records: DAY 52 (Sun 4 January 2009)
"With windchill at -47c this was the coldest day yet. 13.6 nm were covered in 7.5 hours. Henry Adams describes the strong headwind gusting up to 35 knots. He describes how the cold and altitude now means it is taking 2.5 hours to boil all the water needed. He says that they remain on target to meet the 97 mile team at the RV on Friday 9 Jan.
"David Cornell and the 97 mile team are now in Puenta Arenas awaiting their flight to Patriot Hills and we should start receiving reports from them shortly."
Main Trio Day 57 (Fri 9 January 2009 - arrival at Shackleton's 'Furthest South' exactly a century after Shacklteon, Wild, Adams and Marshall reached there):
1. Sitrep No 57 as at 0735 hrs GMT 09 Jan 09
2. Distance Covered Today : 11.6 nm
3. Total Distance Covered : 700.5 nm
4. Hours travelled: 6
5. Daily Average to Date: 12.29 nm
6. Distance to Pole: 97.00 nm
7. Altitude: 10244 ft ASL
8. Total Raised on Justgiving: £6050
9. Total raised in last 24 hours: £2050
Ernest Shackleton's diary for January 4th, 1909 (from Heart of the Antarctic:-
"The end is in sight. We can only go for three more days at the most, for we are weakening rapidly. Short food and a blizzard wind from the south, with driving drift, at a temperature of 47° of frost, have plainly told us today that we are reaching our limit, for we were so done up at noon with cold that the clinical thermometer failed to register the temperature of three of us at 94°.
"We started at 7:40 A.M., leaving a depot on this great wide plateau, a risk that only this case justified, and one that my comrades agreed to, as they have to every one so far, with the same cheerfulness and regard-lessness of self that have been the means of our getting as far as we have done so far.
"Pathetically small looked the bamboo, one of the tent poles, with a bit of bag sewn on as a flag, to mark our stock of provisions, which has to take us back to our depot, one hundred and fifty miles north. We lost sight of it in half an hour, and are now trusting to our footprints in the snow to guide us back to each bamboo until we pick up the depot again. I trust that the weather will keep clear. Today we have done 12 1/2 geographical miles, and with only 70 lb. per man to pull it is as hard, even harder, work than the 100 odd lb. was yesterday, and far harder than the 250 1b. were three weeks ago, when we were climbing the glacier.
"This, I consider, is a clear indication of our failing strength. The main thing against us is the altitude of 11,200 ft. and the biting wind. Our faces are cut, and our feet and hands are always on the verge of frostbite. Our fingers, indeed, often go, but we get them around more or less. I have great trouble with two fingers on my left hand. They had been badly jammed when we were getting the motor up over the ice face at winter quarters, and the circulation is not good. Our boots now are pretty well worn out,.. our stock of sennegrass is nearly exhausted, we are on short rations of the ordinary allowance of thirty-two ounces.
"We are now in the same clothes night and day. One suit of underclothing, shirt and guernsey, and our thin Burberries, now all patched. When we get up in the morning, out of the wet bag, our Burberries become like a coat of mail at once, and our heads and beards get iced-up with the moisture when breathing on the march. There is half a gale blowing dead in our teeth all the time. We hope to reach within 100 geographical miles of the Pole; I am confident that the Pole lies on the great plateau we have discovered, miles and miles from any outstanding land. The temperature tonight is minus 24°F."
Five days later, on 9 January, the four men reached their furthest point possible and turned back.
They would have been delighted to see that these young modern heirs to their intrepid tradition made it safely.
Australian Flip Byrnes, the great-granddaughter of Shackleton's Endurance photographer Frank Hurley, will ski and sail into the record books as the first Australian to cross Greenland's East-West Kulusk – Ilulissat route and the second Australian woman to traverse Greenland.
Together with four others, including Chris Sunderland and his fiancée Rachel Owen, both from the UK, Flip is currently taking part in the 640 km Arctic Kites Expedition.
Her dog 'Basil' (in fact a broom-head on wheels rather than the canine variety!) is going along as her mascot to publicise the 'Black Dog' Institute for treating depression. One in five Australians will suffer depression in their lifetimes. Inspired by watching a close friend suffer from BiPolar disorder for 14 years, she is hoping to raise AUS$15,000 for the Black Dog Institute, to assist it to extend its work improving the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of mood disorders and enable it to counsel and treat many more patients suffering from depression (Winston Churchill famously called his depressions 'the Black Dog') than is currently possible.
During April and May 2008 the Arctic Kites international team (others of whom will raise money fro diabetes) will cross the Greenland Icecap from its east to west coast, using skis and ski sails. The 640km (c400m) journey from Nagtivit on the East coast to Ilulissat on the West coast will be undertaken on skis, whilst hauling pulks (sleds) each weighing around 100kg. Whenever the conditions are appropriate, sails will be used to pull the team and their pulks across the ice.
The expedition may take up to five weeks and the team will have to survive arctic storms, crevasses, polar bears, sensory deprivation and temperatures as low as -40°C (excluding wind chill).
85 per cent of Greenland is covered by an icecap which holds 10 per cent of the world’s total freshwater reserves. The Greenland Ice Cap is approx. 1.8 million sq.km. in size and is almost 14 times the size of England. Only 410,449 square km are ice-free - an area equivalent to the British Isles. The Greenland icecap is the Arctic’s largest glacial mass: at its thickest points it is over 3 km deep and contains ice which froze 120,000 years ago. The bottom layers of the ice closest to the bedrock are up to 2 million years old. If the icecap melted, the sea level would rise by approximately 5 metres!
For millions of years, the weight of the Ice Cap has pressed the original bedrock down about 800 meters. Icebergs snap off glaciers at the edge of the Ice Cap. The world's most active glacier - at Ilulissat - moves 25-30 metres each day and calves across a front 10 km in width. Icebergs protruding more than 100 meters above the water line are often seen in Ilulissat - and only one tenth of the iceberg shows above the surface.
The Ice Cap was first crossed in 1888 by the Norwegian Fridjof Nansen, an influence upon and friend of Shackleton and Amundsen. The trip was done on skis. Crossings are usually made from the area around Ammassalik to Kangerlussuaq. In 2006 more than 50 non-scientific expeditions visited the Ice Cap. Among them were groups of skiers who paraglided from the center of the Ice Cap to Kangerlussuaq and a who river-rafted on the meltwater torrents.
See full details of the expedition at: www.arctickites.com
and also: www.crossinggreenland.
From December 2003 to January 2004 the British Schools Exploring Society under the leadership of Brigadier David Nicholls (Royal Marines retired) took a 30-strong expedition including 21 Young Explorers aged 18 to 24 to Chile, the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. The expedition was supported by HMS Endurance. Their aim including a noble attempt to locate Shackleton's cooking pot abandoned during his crossing of South Georgia with Worsley and Crean, the climbing of four Virgin peaks, detailed scentific research, in the course of which they also contributed to the upkeep of the South Goergia whaling stations and cemeteries.
Further details are posted on the 'Young Caird' news page, and the full story can be found on the official South Georgia website.
The Irish South Aris Expedition, of which Frank Nugent was joint leader, attempted in January 1997 to repeat Shackleton's crossing from Elephant Island to South Georgia. They were forced to scuttle their boat - christened the Tom Crean - when they ran into a sustained Force 10 storm, which capsized them three times in 30 hours. Frank Nugent went on in February l997 to complete a re-enaction of Shackleton's South Georgia traverse from King Haakon Bay to Stromness.
'If you have the desire for knowledge and the power to give it physical expression, go out and explore. If you are a brave man you will do nothing, if you are fearful you may do much...' These words from Apsley Cherry-Garrard served as a motto for the Shackleton Memorial Expedition 2001, which has also just completed a crossing of South Georgia.
Their plan was to attempt a traverse of the island retracing Shackleton's route - Peggotty Camp, Shackleton Pass, Trident Ridge, Crean Glacier, Fortuna Glacier, Fortuna Bay and Stromness. 'No man had ever penetrated a mile of coast of South Georgia at any point, and the whalers, I knew, regarded the country as inaccessible', wrote Shackleton.
Following a landing on Elephant Island, the party - Neil Laughton, Trevor Potts, Lewis McNaught, Peter Oldham, Martin Hartley and Rebecca Harris - was transported by icebreaker to South Georgia to begin the climb. Unable to put in at King Haakon Bay owing to force 10-ll gales (as ferocious as those Shackleton and Worsley faced tacking in aboard the James Caird) the expedition made for Possession Bay, round the top of the island, and launched its climb from there.
The Expedition took three and a half days to traverse South Georgia's treacherous mountain terrain. Linking from Possession Bay with Shackleton's original route from King Haakon Bay, they thereafter navigated a path through the same mountains, glaciers, and crevasses that Shackleton crossed, before reaching the now deserted whaling station at Stromness. They encountered atrocious weather and perilous climbing conditions, with blizzards and white-out for most of the time, wading through snow up to their thighs.
For one member of the five-man climbing team, Trevor Potts, the expedition represents the second leg of an amazing journey. In 1994, keeping touch with Harding Dunnett, Alexandra Shackleton and the publicity team at the London Boat Show at Earl's Court - the Shackleton event which provided the spur to the formation of the James Caird Society - Trevor and his three companions completed the 800 mile sea-crossing from Elephant Island to South Georgia - the first expedition to do so - in his boat the Sir Ernest Shackleton, an exact replica built by McNulty's shipyard on Tyneside of the original 23 foot James Caird. The Sir Ernest Shackleton was flown down to the Falkland Islands by the Royal Air Force specially for the Expedition.
The Shackleton Memorial Expedition's climb over South Georgia has enabled Trevor at last to fulfil his long-held dream of recreating both the sea and land sections of Shackleton's heroic journey.
With the James Caird Society's President, the Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, as Patron, it also raised money for two important charities - The UK Antarctic Heritage Trust and The Shackleton Scholarship Fund. Any donations would be most welcome to : The Shackleton Memorial Expedition, Wades Cottage, Slindon, West Sussex, U.K., BN18 ORA.
Three climbers, Jock Wishart, Duncan Nicoll and Jonathan Chastney, set out in November-December 2000 to retrace the route across South Georgia taken by Shackleton, Worsley and Crean in l9l6. Members of the Shackleton's Steps Expedition wore replicas of Shackleton's original Burberry gabardine clothing as they sought to rechart his treacherous route over ice-bound peaks, glaciers and snowfields They recorded film footage for the TV production company Tiger Aspects, which is developing a documentary about the crossing for global broadcasting.
Wishart was previously a member of the first team to walk unsupported to the Geomagnetic North Pole in 1992, and in 1996 made a televised trek to the Magnetic North Pole. Chastney, an accomplished mountaineer, sailor and explorer, was a member of the team that made the first ascent of Mount Katherine-Jane on Smith Island, Antarctica, in l995. Nicoll, six times UK national champion in quads, doubles and single sculls, set a world record rowing from London to Paris in l999, and in l997 rowed across the Atlantic in 60 days in a 24ft open rowing boat - roughly the same length as the James Caird.
Although they succeeded in reaching the Shackleton Gap, the Murray Snowfield, and all four passes of the Trident Ridge, the three climbers were thwarted at every stage by bad weather (low pressure, gale force winds and a dangerous build up of avalanching snow above the descent to the Crean Glacier). Their experience of such severe conditions brings to mind those that must have threatened Shackleton and his two intrepid colleagues, Frank Worsley and Tom Crean.
Conrad Anker, Reinhold Messner and Stephen Venables reconstructed Shackleton, Worsley and Crean's crossing of South Georgia for inclusion in the WGBH/Nova/White Mountain Films IMAX film Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure. It was Anker, who has climbed in Alaska, Antarctica, Russia and Patagonia, who discovered George Mallory's body on Everest shortly before mounting has own attempt on the summit.
Messner was the first to conquer Everest solo, and without oxygen. In l989-90, inspired by Shackleton, he effected a crossing on foot of the Antarctic continent. He was also the first to climb all the world's 8,000-metre peaks (those over 26,400 feet).
Stephen Venables is a mountaineer and writer, best known for his part in the Anglo-American-Canadian Everest expedition (up the Kangshung face of Everest), when he was also the first Briton to reach the summit of Everest without oxygen. During 14 visits to the Himalayas, he has made many first ascents including Kishtwar Shivling, the Solu Tower and Panch Chuli V, a remote peak on the borders of India, Nepal and Tibet, where he sustained a nearly fatal fall. He started climbing whilst reading English at New College, Oxford. His first book, Painted Mountains, won the Boardman-Tasker Prize for mountain literature; Everest - Alone at the Summit was runner-up in 1989 while the most recent, Himalaya Alpine Style, a seminal work on modern Himalayan climbing, won the Banff Mountain Literature Festival Grand Award. Everest Kangshung Face told the story of the 1988 expedition.
Venables has increasingly been drawn to the mountains of the far south : The Andes, Antarctica, South Georgia and Tierra del Fuego, where he climbed a new route on Monte Sarmiento. He earns his living as a writer and lecturer, living with his wife and two children in Bath. His most recent book, A Slender Thread, is shortlisted for this year's mountain literature award and the Boardman-Tasker Prize. His latest excursion was a climb of the Matterhorn in tweed suit and nailed boots for a BBC documentary about the first ascent.
'When I first came to South Georgia,' says Venables, 'we were exploring the southern end of the island and making first ascents of the large peaks towards the southern tip; so I hadn't actually been on the terrain of Shackleton's traverse at the northern end. But I've experienced the island and its incredible blizzards that just seem to hit you from nowhere. That reinforced my respect for what Shackleton, Worsley and Crean achieved. But I understood too that sense of Providence which they mentioned in their accounts : Providence for once smiling on them and giving them thirty-six hours of clear weather - the only clear weather break that entire winter - which enabled them to make their crossing safely. It was a combination of incredible determination, experience, leadership and that vital bit of luck at the crucial moment.
'We covered the entire route Shackleton's party took in May l9l6, except for allowing ourselves one short cut - we omitted part of Breakwind Ridge. Our sequence is just a small part of the film, which covers all of the Endurance expedition : NOVA/WGBH have done a remarkable job seamlessly incorporating Hurley's original film into wonderful new colour footage, and using some stunning aerial photography, shot by helicopter, which add a whole new dimension.
'The climb up to the first big transverse ridge was longer than I expected, the crevasses bigger and more threatening than I had ever imagined. But it was thrilling to see the four notches in the ridge, described so precisely by Frank Worsley all those years ago, and the huge windscoop at the side of the glacier, which he said would easily swallow up two battle cruisers. Unlike Shackleton, we chose the third, not the fourth notch, and set off down the east side. It must have been nearly 1,000 feet down to the Crean Glacier. As Reinhold Messner pointed out, 'we were effectively trapped'.
'Later, after we had sniffed out a descent, looking back up at the slope which Shackleton and his companions had glissaded down, we knew that if we had tried to slide the same way, all three of us would have been killed. Even allowing for the fact that glacial recession has made the slope much more fractured, we were still amazed by Shackleton's boldness in 1916, launching himself with Worsley and Crean down that huge slope, without being able to see the bottom.'
Stephen Venables' striking account of the mountain crossing can be read in the catalogue of the Dulwich Exhibition Shackleton, the Antarctic and Endurance.
In February 2001 Norwegian polar traveller Liv Arneson and her colleague, American Ann Bancroft, successfully completed their attempt to become the first woman's team to ski across Antarctica.
They hauled 250lb (112 kg) sleds 2,400 miles (3,860 km) across the frozen wastes, enduring temperatures averaging 30 degrees below zero and minus 35 degree winds (gusting up to 100 miles per hour), and ascending to 11,000 feet (3,300 metres). When conditions permitted, the pair sped up their journey by 'sailing' across the ice on skis, attached by harness to a flying kite-sail.
Liv Arneson (47), born near Oslo, is no stranger to difficult climes and terrain. In l993 she led the first unsupported women's crossing of the Greenland Ice Cap. In 1994 she became the first woman to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole, following which she wrote Snille piker går ikke til Sydpolen (Good Girls do not Ski to the South Pole), a book about her expedition (1995). She subsequently attempted the north face of Everest. Minnesota-born Ann Bancroft (45) has comparable polar experience : in l986 she drove a dog sled from Canada to the North Pole as the only female member of the Steger International Polar Expedition. In 1993, she led the American Women's Expedition to the South Pole, becoming the first woman to reach both poles.
Both explorers had dreamed of travelling to Antarctica since they were 12, and were inspired by Alfred Lansing's book Endurance about Shackleton's 1914 attempt to lead the first transantarctic crossing. Both have previously been to the North and South poles.
The pair reached the South Pole (9,300 ft, 2835m) on Tuesday Jan 16th. Having ascended the Titan Dome (9,856 ft), by Jan 20th they were l00 miles (160 kilometers) from the start of their descent of the Shackleton Glacier - a river of ice cutting through the Transantarctic Mountains - to the Ross Ice Shelf, which lies at the bottom of the glacier and marks the formal completion of their crossing, a distance of about 132 kilometers (82 miles). The courageous pair reached McMurdo, their destination (a further 488m/782km) on February 11 2001, completing their Antarctic Odyssey four days ahead of schedule.