Day 39

Daily Distance:
Total Distance:
84° 42' / 167° 19'

Read the Journal Entry for Day 39

Shackleton Centenary Expedition

Latest Expedition Update:

Day 41, 24 December Distance travelled: 489.8 nmi Temperature: -25 °C Conditions: Clear sky, very sunny Read Journal Entry
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Day 39 December 22, 2008

8.3 nm achieved today, with 3.5 nm in the first 5 hours: the going was tough, with many slips and falls. After a long climb they were able to put their skis on for the first time in days, and at 7PM they reached a wide open plain of wind packed snow. The team are now expecting good mileage tomorrow on flat ground, they can see Mount Buckley, and thus their exit from the toughest terrain they have had to face.

To the East of Mount Buckley are the Shackleton Falls, to the West, the Wild Ice Falls, from their camp they can see the Marshall Mountains and the Adams Mountains. As Henry says, "often you have to endure to conquer".

Henry dedicates today's message to all of the team at one of our Gold sponsors, Rab Capital

1. Sitrep No 39 as at 0825 hrs GMT 22 Dec 08

2. Distance Covered Today : 8.3 nm

3. Total Distance Covered : 461.1 nm

4. Hours travelled: 7

5. Daily Average to Date: 11.82 nm

6. Days to RV on Jan 9 at 97 Mile Point: 19

7. Distance to RV: 232.69 nm

8. Distance to Pole: 329.69 nm

9. Required Daily Average to achieve RV: 12.25 nm


The team sent through a couple of photos today.

This first photo shows one of the team hauling their sledge up some ice rubble, and gives you a good sense of the sort of effort required over the terrain of the Beardmore Glacier.


This next photo is of a crevasse


This last photo is of tonight's campsite. Henry has not told me which mountains are in the background but given that photo was taken in the evening and the sun is therefore in the North West (remember this is the Southern Hemisphere), I would guess that they are the Marshall Mountains (left) and the Adams Mountains (right, named after Henry Adams's great grandfather). If you look at the detailed map of the Beardmore and look due west from their current campsite, which is marked at red point 39, you can work out which peaks are which.


December 22nd, 1908

As I write of today's events, I can easily imagine I am on a spring sledging journey, for the temperature is minus 5°F and a chilly southeasterly wind is blowing and finds its way through the walls of our tent, which are getting worn. All day long, from 7 A.M., except for the hour when we stopped for lunch, we have been relaying the sledges over the pressure mounds and across crevasses. Our total distance to the good for the whole day was only four miles southward, but this evening our prospects look brighter, for we must now have come to the end of the great glacier. It is flattening out, and except for crevasses there will not be much trouble in hauling the sledges tomorrow. One sledge today, when coming down with a run over a pressure ridge, turned a complete somersault, but nothing was damaged, in spite of the total weight being over 400 lb.

We are now dragging 400 lb. at a time up the steep slopes and across the ridges, working with the alpine rope all day, and roping ourselves together when we go back for the second sledge, for the ground is so treacherous that many times during the day we are saved only by the rope from faling into fathomless pits. Wild describes the sensation of walking over this surface, half ice and half snow, as like walking over the glass roof of a station. The usual query when one of us falls into a crevasse is! "Have you found it?" One gets somewhat callous as regards the immediate danger, though we are always glad to meet crevasses with their coats off, that is, not hidden by the snow covering. Tonight we are camped in a filled-in crevasse. Away to the north down the glacier a thick cumulus cloud is lying, but some of the largest mountains are standing out clearly. Immediately behind us lies a broken sea of pressure ice. Please God, ahead of us there is a clear road to the Pole.

Day 39 Report

  1. Day 39 Report
  2. Day 39 Sitrep

Day 39: Overview

Distance covered:
8.3 nm
25 mph
Very sunny, no cloud, wind picked up in the last hour

The Heart of the Antarctic

This is the story of the “Farthest South” expedition, told by its leader. After enduring biting winds, short rations and crevasse-ridden glaciers for over a year, Shackleton’s party faced a desperate forced march to return to their ship, The Nimrod, or face being marooned on the ice.

Taken from Sir Ernest Shackleton’s own compelling chronicle of his first Antarctic expedition, written on his return in 1909.

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