Furthest South


        This we have been able to do in much less time than we did on the last long march when with Captain Scott we made 82 16 1/2' Furthest South


      Shackleton's British Antarctic Expedition left England in the Nimrod in 1907. Shackleton hoped to base himself on the Rose Ice Shelf off the Bay of Whales, but on examining the ice there decided it was too dangerous. He thereupon sailed to the Ross Island, where he found he could penetrate the sea ice only as far south as Cape Royds, some twenty-two miles north of Hut Point. He settled on this cape, where he built his now famous hut. On January 9, 1909, he and three companions made a southing to within ninety-seven miles of the Pole, in the process pioneering the Beardmore Glacier route over the Transantarctic Mountains. The party barely made it back to Ross Island. In his work of laying depots and at the beginning and end of the great traverse Shackleton made use to the Discovery hut (much to Scott's displeasure).

      furthest south Shackleton's expedition accomplished important work in addition to the new southing. For example, it made the first ascent of Mount Erebus and it reached the south Magnetic Pole (though Shackleton himself was eight hundred miles to the south). Edgeworth David and his team (which included Mackay A.F. Mackay and Douglas Mawson, pictured) hoisted the Union Jack on a tent pole and said: "I hereby take possession of this area now containing the Magnetic Pole for the British Empire. Three cheers for the King."

      In attempting to get to the Pole, Shackleton and his team covered in twenty-nine days a distance that had taken Scott fifty-nine days. But they were let down in getting to the Pole by poor preperation in the technicalities of snow travel, something that blighted all British Antarctic expeditions of the era. Taking ponies cost much effort, trudging through the snow rather than skiing over it sapped much needed energy, and persisting with jackets patently inadequate for the conditions hardly helped their cause. Shackleton considered " except for the hands and feet ... and the sleeping bags for camping, furs are entirely unnecessary". Tents had not improved since Discovery. And lack of food was paramount in preventing them ultimate success.

      But away from the technicalities of snow travel, Shackleton was sensible, innovative, and open to informed advice. His consideration of the men under him was one of his greatest strengths and why his men would do anything for him and put blind faith in him. He would not ask of his men anything he wouldn't do himself. In that respect he was as different to Scott (who put glory first before life itself) as day is to night. For maybe, just maybe, he and his team could have got to the Pole therby securing Shackleton eternal fame, but it would have cost him and his men their lives.

      furthest south They turned back just ninety-seven miles from the Pole (pictured). They had travelled 730 miles through the ice and snow. The return journey was a march, a race, against death. But they did it.

      For his deeds, at home, Shackleton became a national hero overnight.

      Further Reading

    • Shackleton's Forgotten Expedition: The Voyage of the Nimrod
    • Shackleton



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