Sir Ernest Shackleton is one of Britain's most famous and widely respected explorers.
The aim of the Nimrod Expedition was to be the first to make a successful journey to the South Pole. With nineteenth-century technology, and the Antarctic still almost completely unknown territory, his was an undertaking equivalent to a modern-day moon-landing.
Shackleton failed. Yet the expedition successfully achieved the first ascent of Mount Erebus, which was the first ascent of any peak in the Antarctic. They were the first team to reach the Magnetic South Pole, and the first team to reach the plateau above the Transantarctic Mountains.
Shackleton, Adams, Wild and Marshall got to within 97 miles of the Pole on January 9th, 1909 before "The Boss" made the pragmatic decision to turn back to base.
By declining what would have been a suicidal race to glory, and choosing instead to preserve the lives of his men, Shackleton not only survived to carry out future exploits but proved himself a leader that the same men would gladly follow through any adversity.
This was the farthest mankind had reached in achieving the South Pole.
More on the web:
Wikipedia has a solid if brief entry.
south-pole.com has a longer, detailed and well-written article online.
ITEMS FROM HENRY WORSLEY'S POLAR COLLECTION
Shackleton's Epic Voyage illustrated by Raymond Briggs
Published in 1969 and perhaps one of the least known additions to polar literature this real gem of a book features the unmistakable drawing style of Raymond Briggs. Despite it being aimed at younger readers this tells the story of the Endurance and the boat journey in a style that will appeal to adults as well.
Every page has a drawing that appears to be so simply composed yet it is full of detail and before turning each page one seems to spend much longer journeying through the picture long after having read the informative and succinct text of Michael Brown.
Words you will need to know if you're going to the South Pole. Please note, this page is very much a work in progress, we'll be gently adding to it over the coming months.
Any wind that flows downhill from a slope (from the Greek 'kata', meaning downwards). Nowhere are katabatic winds stronger than in the Antarctic, where they flow down from the heights of Plateau, and have been recorded at speeds of up to 96 m/s, or 200 mph.
Sharp irregular ridges formed on a snow surface by wind erosion and deposition. The ridges are parallel to the direction of the prevailing wind. From the Russian word zastrugi, and sometimes given as sostrugi, or zastruga.
Congealed fat, meat and fruit blocks eaten by Edwardian Antarctic explorers to keep up their calorie count while manhauling across the ice. On the plus side, it can be stored almost indefinitely. On the minus side, pemmican tastes as disgusting as it sounds: modern explorers have better ways to maintain extreme-calorie diets.
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