Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage

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Ernest Shackleton was an Anglo-Irish Antarctic explorer who planned to cross the Antarctic from sea-to-sea, and instead he and his crew of 28 men became trapped in pack ice. I just finished listening to Endurance by Alfred Lansing and read by Tim Pigott-Smith. This author retells the story of the incredible voyage of these men through extreme weather conditions over a period of 21 months.

They stayed on the boat until it would sink under pressure of the ice. Then they camped on sea ice until it was no longer safe to stay on it during the summer months, when they eventually took two lifeboats to eventually reach Elephant Island. Six of the crew including Shackleton then traveled by boat in stormy open seas 830 miles to South Georgia Island. From the landing base three of these men, again led by Shackleton, crossed the uncharted, treacherous South Georgia Island mountains, some reaching up to 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) until he reached the harbor from which the expedition originally started. He quickly recovered the three left behind on the other side of the island and then took another three months before rescuing the remaining crew on Elephant Island.

What is amazing is that not a single man of the original 28 crew nor Shackleton perished. One man had a heart attack, and one man lost a foot due to gangrene that sets in after constant frostbite. The endurance required to survive these 19 months fighting with some of the strongest blizzards known on earth, spending weeks on the sea in a small boat or simply, dealing with boredom and severe frostbite, or just not knowing if they would ever be rescued, is one of the most amazing stories I have ever heard about.


Lansing, Alfred. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage. Read by Tim Pigott-Smith. ON

Ernest Shackleton, Wikipedia, Accessed September 14, 2022.

Author: T.P. Caruso

Retired from a healthcare and biomedical research career and now enjoying connections with anyone interested in history, geneology, healthcare, leadership or consciousness.

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