By M.P. Pellicer (Eerie.News)
The Endurance was found four miles from where her captain, Frank Worsely reported her going down in 1915. It wasn't only the loss of the ship, which made this endeavor so famous, but the tribulations the crew had to endure in order to reach safety.
Cross Antarctica from the Weddel Sea via the South Pole to the Ross Seal; this was Sir Ernest Shackleton's dream.
He sailed in 1912, from Norway with a crew of 27 men. The year before Roald Amundsen's expedition was the first to successfully reach the South Pole.
Supplies were left on Ross Island at Hut Point. The outpost was built in 1902, during the National Antarctic Expedition, led by Robert Falcon Scott.
However nature did not favor the expedition since the ice was denser than normal and the Endurance became trapped on the Weddell Sea in January, 1915.
In February, Shackleton converted the ship to a winter station since he realized she would be stuck until the following spring. The ice was so thick that even under steam power it couldn't make headway. The vessel drifted along for hundreds of miles; its engine silent since it was thought prudent to conserve coal. With warmer temperatures, she was released but it put extreme pressure on the hull. In July, a gale pushed ice into the ship's hull, and three months later Shackleton abandoned the ship, moving three lifeboats and supplies to the ice. It sank on November 21.
The 28 men camped on ice floes that drifted northward, living on seal and sled dog meat. Seventy dogs had been sent for the expedition. They stayed there two months, hoping to reach Paulet Island, 250 miles away, where there was a cache of supplies. The icy landscape was so inhospitable, that they could not reach their destination.
In April, the ice released them and they traveled in open boats to Elephant Island at the tip of the Antarctic peninsula. Chance of being rescued was unlikely since the island was far from any shipping routes.
Shackleton and five other men then made an 800 mile trip on the 20-foot lifeboat James Caird, headed to South Georgia
Once there, Shackleton took three men with him and crossed the Allardyce Range along the spine of the island. They had no map; and hoped to reach a whaling station at Stromness. They arrived on May 20, 1916, and a rescue effort was immediately organized for men on the other side of South Georgia, and the others on Elephant Island. Three months later they were picked up. They made it home without loss of life.
Sir Shackleton upon his return published his memoirs of the expedition and toured on a lecture circuit. In 1920, he started to think about another expedition. The destination he had in mind was the Artic in the area of the Beaufort Sea, which was largely unexplored. With funds from a former schoolmate he acquired the Foca I, which he renamed Quest.
Then he changed his goal, and decided to try to circumnavigate the Antarctic continent, including finding the "lost islands" such as Tuanaki.
The expedition left September, 1921. Many of his former crew from the Endurance sailed with their former "Boss." When they arrived in Rio de Janeiro, it's suspected Shackleton had a heart attack, but he refused a medical examination. The Quest continued onto South Georgia, arriving January, 4, 1922.
A few hours after midnight, Dr. Macklin, the expedition's physician was called to Shackleton's cabin. He complained by back pains and that he didn't feel well. According to Macklin's diary, he reminded Shackleton the he should try to lead a "regular life".
Shackleton asked, "You are always wanting me to give up things, what is it I ought to give up?"
Macklin's answer was not new, "Chiefly alcohol, Boss."
On January 5, 1922, at 2:50 a.m. Shackleton died from a heart attack.
Emily Shackleton, his widow, instructed that her husband be buried in South Georgia, instead of Britain, and on March 5, 1922, he was buried at Grytviken Cemetery.
Eric Marshall, the medical officer on the 1907-1909 expedition aboard the Nimrod, made a note in his diary that Shackleton suffered a congenital heart defect known as "hole in the heart" (atrial septal defect). This possibly paired with the strain of the trip caused his death at the age of 47.
Shackleton died heavily in debt, and left his small estate to his widow who died 14 years later in 1936.
According to The Sun, in 2019, the Endurance22 Expedition tried to locate the vessel, and sent an unmanned sub which was trapped under the ice. With temperatures dipping -18C, the attempt ended in failure.
Three years later, Lady Luck was with them, and the ship was located 2 miles below the surface of the Weddell Sea. In a strange twist, the find coincided with the 100 year anniversary of Shackleton's burial on March 5.
According to The New York Times, the more than $10 million cost of the expedition was covered by an anonymous donor.
From the last years of the 19th century until the end of World War I, became known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. Many ships and lives were lost in Antarctic crossings. The HMS Terror and Erebus among others.
The Endurance will remain on the seafloor protected by the Antarctic Treaty as a history monument.
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