As you might have noticed - our interactive map has been moved.
We wanted to show you that our focus has changed from the Expedition to the Foundation. If you're looking for the map, and want to listen to those daily broadcasts from Antarctica click here
It was as I was leaving school that I first became intrigued and gripped by stories of the Heroic Age of polar exploration. Amundsen's meticulous planning and Scott's tragic death were great and noble stories but it was Shackleton's extraordinary Endurance escape and the journey of the James Caird that enthralled me most. But as time moved on I needed to feed an appetite that wanted to learn more about the man, his leadership skills, his triumph over adversity, what drove him on and his other passions.
So I then started collecting anything about him and his expeditions I could lay my hands on. Books were of course not hard to find but I searched out signed copies, first editions and other artefacts that had any connection to Ernest Shackleton. My collection continues to grow and now includes the copy of South that he gave his parents, inscribed 'To Mother and Father for Christmas, with love from Ernest Xmas 1919'.
In 2004 I had a rare opportunity to visit South Georgia which enabled me to get as close as possible to tread the same ground that he would have done on the Endurance and Quest expeditions as they lay over in Grytviken. And although it may seem rather odd I camped out for a night in the whalers graveyard and lay my sleeping bag down beside his grave and the granite headstone which inscribes his name.
To lead the expedition with descendants of the original team to celebrate the centenary of the Nimrod is a massive undertaking for me and to follow the route he took will fulfil a lifelong ambition to connect in a major way with what he achieved. But setting out to close the last 97 miles will be a huge prize and I hope will prove to be a fitting legacy to the original expedition in the centenary year.
But it is the Shackleton Foundation that will endure over time and that is what is most important to me. I want people of any age group and background to come forward with a bold, innovative and useful idea that embodies Shackleton's spirit - and I want to be able to make their dreams become a reality and enable them to step into the arena and take forward their daring idea for the betterment of others.
Our house is filled with worn-out Shackleton memorabilia and paraphernalia: rich in sentimental value, much less so in actual economic value. Above the stairs hangs a four feet by four feet sepia-toned picture of Frank Wild attending to a couple of his dogs. A carved box taken from The Discovery containing a variety of medals and a small walrus tusk sits next to the computer monitor. I could go on here and talk about the wealth of Antarctic literature taking up our living room, or the well-worn wooden skis hanging in our garage.
It seems that having an ancestor that traversed the Antarctic leaves you a rich legacy of knick-knacks and jew-jaws. There is another more important legacy however, and that is the lessons that you can take from the experiences that members of your own family have undergone.
Frank Wild was my great great Uncle: the Uncle of my Gran. Growing up learning what members of your own family have tried to achieve, and where they have succeeded and failed gives you a greater sense of history and purpose. This is magnified when you look at the scale of what Shackleton and his men tried to achieve, bearing in mind the technology at their disposal at the time.
To be the first to reach the South Pole, to have a dream and to go about trying to achieve that dream is inspiring. What is more inspiring is not being afraid of failure. It is this point which strikes me as the most important legacy of Shackleton and the brave men that accompanied him on his missions. To have the strength of character to turn back from the geographic Pole 97 miles away from a place in the history books, after all the cajoling, organisation, money-raising and effort that had gone into getting there in the first place shows a recurrent theme in Shackleton's thinking: that of the welfare of his men above all else.
His man-management is something that countless people have talked about, written books about, and delivered lectures on. In my own humble opinion, it seems that by taking his ego out of the equation, Shackleton was able to both lead and be one of the men, thus ensuring a greater sense of community within his group. This sense of community was crucial to the setbacks that both he and his men endured, and made them stronger as a unit.
The legacy of Shackleton is something that should be both studied and celebrated. It should be both studied and celebrated as it offers the valuable lesson that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. This is the lesson that I have personally taken from the achievements of Shackleton and his men. This has helped to drive me onto bigger and better things, as I realise that even if I fail, I end up further than if I had not tried at all: something which is not encouraged enough today.
I saw my first iceberg en route to South Georgia and despite always having been in awe of their sheer size and majesty captured on film or in pictures it is quite a different thing to witness something the size of St Paul's cathedral towering over the starboard side of a small ship of the Royal Navy.
Much more dangerous to shipping than the Titanicesque bergs are the much smaller chunks of ice bobbing in the water that could easily damage the outer skin of even the toughest vessel: especially difficult to see at night. Growlers and Bergy Bits are the menace in this category and I remember sailors mounting a 24 hour watch on the bow of the ship once we crossed the Antarctic Convergence Zone and entered the fog and flat, grey light of the colder Antarctic waters. Shown below is the recognised categorisation of icebergs.
Size Category Height Length
Growler Less than 1 meter (3 feet) Less than 5 meters (16 feet)
Bergy Bit 1-4 meters (3-13 feet) 5-14 meters (15-46 feet)
Small 5-15 meters (14-50 feet) 15-60 meters (47-200 feet)
Medium 16-45 meters (51-150 feet) 61-122 meters (201-400 feet)
Large 46-75 meters (151-240 feet) 123-213 meters (401-670 feet)
Very Large Over 75 meters (240 feet) Over 213 meters (670 feet)
This is the most intriguing and mysterious account related to icebergs that I have come across. It is taken from 'First Voyage', p132 - written by Frank Worsley in 1938.
"The famous Black Ball ship, Marco Polo, discovered one of the most extraordinary tragedies of the sea ever recorded. In March, 1861, on the passage from Australia to England, she collided with an iceberg west of Cape Horn. She sustained so much damage that she was afterwards forced to run to Valparaiso for repairs. On top of the berg she collided with was seen the body of a man lying down, with one arm folded under his head. He was clothed like a 'better-class seaman' with a rough blue pilot-cloth coat. He was hatless. Alongside of him was a boathook with a piece of red stuff fastened to it, showing that the poor fellow had tried, in vain, to signal some passing ship, before he lay down to die. The Marco Polo lay hove-to, but before she drifted away from the berg those on board could actually distinguish through the telescope the features of the man, and his iron-grey hair was seen to move with the wind. The bitter end of this tragic castaway does not bear dwelling on."
Having tapped all my friends and family for sponsorship for the MDS I realized if I was ever going to fulfill my dreams of a journey to Antarctica I would need to include the corporates. This was stepping the whole fundraising and adventuring upto the next level.
Slowly the idea of following in Shackleton's footsteps began to formulate - not many people know about the nimrod expedition and the timing was good - plenty of time to get the team together and to train.
My first step was to sign myself up for Paul Landry and Matty McNair polar training course in Baffin Island in March 2004. This was a great success and whet my appetite even more.
The next step was to look for the descendants of the original team to see whether they might be fit and interested in such a journey. As such I mentioned this idea to Alexandra Shackleton who immediately started introducing me to Patrick, Dave and Henry.
My next thoughts were to extend the training - to participate in an endurance race in the polar climes. To my delight Henry Worsley wanted to join me so we signed up to the famous Yukon Arctic Ultra which is a 320 mile self supported race with a cut off time of 8 days. My theory was that if we could cover this distance in 8 days we should be able to psychologically cope with the Antarctic.
The project began to develop and the idea of celebrating the centenary of the Nimrod; fulfilling the legacy by completing the last 97 and giving a lasting legacy for the future by setting up a foundation began to take shape.
I think you know the rest!
Commander Sir Jameson Boyd Adams KCVO CBE DSO
Extract is taken from an article written by A Diggins for "The Poacher", an annual companion to Lincolnshire life.
Jameson Boyd Adams like Sir John Franklin, was born in Lincolnshire and found fame exploring Polar regions. Franklin's aim was the Northwest Passage; Adams' was the South Pole. Even away from the Pole he was muted as an adept fund raiser, administrator and war hero.
Early years of discipline and hardship at sea moulded him into a colourful character. A hardened, frankly spoken sea dog, constantly cursing, tempered by his mischievous sense of humour. A life time of selfless devotion to his country and fellow men made him many friends. He always greeted them as "mate" and they in turn affectionately called him "The Mate."
He was born in 1880 at Down Hall on the outskirts of Rippingale. His father, the local Doctor, rented the house from Lord Ancaster for £65 8s a year.
His brother Arnold and sister Marjorie were born in the following years, before the family finally left the county in 1886. From the age of thirteen, having run away to sea, he served in the Merchant Service before joining the Royal Naval Reserves. Reaching the rank of Lieutenant, he was one of the last to gain a Master Mariner's Certificate "under sail". In 1906 he and his fellow officers attended a party given by Ernest Shackleton. The invitation, sent by semaphore, had been received on HMS Berwick as she sailed up the Firth of Forth close to Shackleton's home.
During the party their host enthused about his intended expedition to the Antarctic. Adams was enthralled and asked to be included. A year passed and a permanent commission was offered by the Royal Navy, guaranteeing financial security. On the same day Shackleton's telegram arrived; he chose to go with him. If the Pole could be claimed for England, he wanted to be there.
Work began immediately, gathering stores, and assisting in the vetting of prospective members of the expedition. As he was to take meteorological readings he took a short intensive course on the subject. In 1908 Shackleton, Wild, Marshall and Adams as second-in-command began their walk South.
They encountered gales, blizzards, and temperatures well below freezing. At various stages they suffered from snow blindness, dysentery, frost bite and in the latter stages altitude sickness and scurvy. It was a gruelling task. Not for them the comparative flatness of the Arctic; their route inclined from sea level up to 12,000 feet onto the highest plateau in the world.
Seventy days out they stood less than 100 miles from their goal. Although physically and mentally drained they could have gone on. Prudently with food stores dangerously low, they retraced their steps.
As it was their return became a race for life, from one food depot to the next. Miraculously they all retuned safely but 126 days and 1600 miles had taken its toll. Adams had lost 3 stones in weight on the journey. Thin and gaunt he was hardly recognisable to the support party. For his endeavour he had an Antarctic mountain range named in his honour and was awarded two Polar medals. The medals are displayed at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge.
They returned to England as national heroes. Shackleton wanted "The Mate" to accompany on the lecture tours. He declined, as always unassuming; he preferred the quite life.
To sign up to receive daily emails about the Matrix Shackleton Centenary Expedition's progress please click here.
Get a capsule view of who we are, where we're going and why we're doing this by reading our brochure.
View our brochure (PDF 2.5mb)
Sir Ernest Shackleton is widely known as one of the most inspirational leaders of the twentieth century. The Shackleton Foundation is a new charitable trust.
Matrix Group are proud to be the Headline Sponsors of the Shackleton Centenary Expedition
The South Pole Gazette is a round-up of Antarctic news stories from around the web.
The SCE receives a small percentage of the price of all Antarctic and Shackleton books bought through the links listed below. Please note that buying through our UK Amazon affiliate account you are directly helping to sponsor the Expedition.
Please don't hesitate to get in touch with the SCE if you have any questions regarding our project, or if you would like to know more about how you can become a sponsor.
The Shackleton Centenary Expedition,
c/o The Lansdowne Club,
9 Fitzmaurice Place,
Email us at email@example.com
For press enquiries, please contact Mark Cooper at Van Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org
RSS feeds are a way of keeping up to date with your favourite websites by delivering fresh content to your desktop.
The SCE is a not-for-profit venture of the Shackleton Foundation.
All rights reserved © 2006 The Shackleton Centenary Expedition [SCE] except where noted.
Company No. 06107694, Charity No. 1118686.
The Shackleton Centenary Expedition, c/o The Lansdowne Club, 9 Fitzmaurice Place, London W1J 5JD
"Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all." - EHS 1909
Sponsored by Matrix