Extraordinarias fotos de 1915 de la desastrosa expedición antártica de Ernest Shackleton

Extraordinarias fotos de 1915 de la desastrosa expedición antártica de Ernest Shackleton


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Cuando el fotógrafo Frank Hurley firmó para documentar la expedición del explorador británico Ernest Shackleton al Polo Sur en 1914, sabía que capturaría algunas de las primeras imágenes del hermoso y desolador terreno inexplorado de la Antártida. Pero después de que el barco de Shackleton, el HMS Endurance, quedó atrapado por un bloque de hielo y sucumbió lentamente a su aplastante presión, el destino de la expedición y el de su tripulación parecía sombrío. A cientos de millas de un territorio habitado, y lejos de cualquier ruta de navegación muy transitada, no serían rescatados hasta dentro de un año y medio.

Las fotografías de Hurley, capturadas en negativos de vidrio pesado, fueron originalmente pensadas como documentos de la investigación científica pionera de la expedición. Pero después de que el Endurance encontró su desafortunado destino, registraron algo aún más extraordinario: la supervivencia épica de 28 hombres en medio de dificultades físicas extremas y estrés mental. Capturó no solo el desolado paisaje polar, sino también el valor y la determinación de los miembros de la tripulación varados que intentaban mantenerse calientes en temperaturas bajo cero, evitar el hambre y la desesperación, y pasar el tiempo en un témpano de hielo mientras presenciaban la destrucción en cámara lenta. del Endurance, su único refugio.

Como muestran las fotografías, Hurley no tuvo problemas para cargar su pesado equipo de cámara por las laderas de las montañas o en lo alto del aparejo del barco, para obtener vistas panorámicas. Incluso instaló un cuarto oscuro en el barco, no es poca cosa. Como escribió en su diario: “El trabajo en el cuarto oscuro se tornó extremadamente difícil por las bajas temperaturas de menos 13 [grados] C en el exterior. La temperatura en el cuarto oscuro, cerca de la sala de máquinas, está justo por encima del punto de congelación. Lavar [platos] es molesto, ya que el tanque debe mantenerse caliente o los platos se [encerran] en un bloque de hielo ... El desarrollo es una fuente de molestias para los dedos, que se parten y crujen alrededor de las uñas de una manera dolorosa. "

MIRAR: episodios completos de los mayores misterios de la historia en línea ahora y sintonizar los episodios completamente nuevos los sábados a las 9 / 8c.

Cuando el Endurance finalmente fue tragado por el hielo después de 10 meses, llevándose consigo la colección de negativos de placas de vidrio de Hurley, el fotógrafo, decidido a preservar su trabajo, se sumergió en el agua helada para recuperar los negativos y la película. Sin embargo, Shackleton tenía diferentes prioridades y consideró que los negativos eran demasiado pesados ​​para llevarlos en su viaje. En el acto, Hurley tuvo que tomar una rápida decisión sobre qué fotografías eran más importantes para conservar. Editó más de 600 fotografías a un poco más de 100 placas de vidrio, rompiendo los rechazos en el hielo.

LEER MÁS: La asombrosa historia de supervivencia de Ernest Shackleton y su equipo de resistencia

Después de que el barco se hundió, la tripulación arrastró sus botes salvavidas unas millas y luego acampó en el hielo durante cuatro meses más, hasta que comenzó a agrietarse. Luego soportaron un viaje agotador sobre mares agitados hasta la isla Elefante, donde los hombres esperaron cuatro meses más mientras Shackleton y otros cinco se aventuraban en busca de ayuda. Hurley, que tuvo que abandonar la mayor parte de su equipo después de que el Endurance se perdiera en el hielo, llevaba una cámara Kodak Vest Pocket y tres rollos de película para el resto de la terrible experiencia. Hizo unas tres docenas de imágenes más en la Isla Elefante, así como del eventual rescate. Todos sobrevivieron.

















Contenido

Infancia

Shackleton nació el 15 de febrero de 1874 en Kilkea, Condado de Kildare, Irlanda. Su padre, Henry Shackleton, intentó ingresar al ejército, pero su mala salud se lo impidió. En cambio, se convirtió en granjero y se instaló en Kilkea. La familia Shackleton es de origen inglés, concretamente de Yorkshire. Abraham Shackleton, un cuáquero inglés, se mudó a Irlanda en 1726 y comenzó una escuela en Ballitore, condado de Kildare. La madre de Shackleton, Henrietta Letitia Sophia Gavan, era descendiente de la familia Fitzmaurice. [4] Ernesto fue el segundo de sus diez hijos y el primero de dos hijos. El segundo, Frank, alcanzó notoriedad como sospechoso, luego exonerado, en el robo de 1907 de las llamadas Joyas de la Corona Irlandesa, que nunca han sido recuperadas. [5]

En 1880, cuando Ernest tenía seis años, Henry Shackleton entregó su vida como terrateniente para estudiar medicina en el Trinity College de Dublín, trasladando a su familia a la ciudad. [6] Cuatro años más tarde, la familia se mudó nuevamente de Irlanda a Sydenham en los suburbios de Londres. En parte, esto fue en busca de mejores perspectivas profesionales para el médico recién calificado, pero otro factor puede haber sido la inquietud acerca de su ascendencia angloirlandesa, luego del asesinato por los nacionalistas irlandeses de Lord Frederick Cavendish, el secretario británico para Irlanda, en 1882. [ 6] Sin embargo, Shackleton se enorgulleció durante toda su vida de sus raíces irlandesas y, con frecuencia, declaró: "Soy un irlandés". [7]

Educación

Desde la primera infancia, Shackleton fue un lector voraz, una búsqueda que encendió una pasión por la aventura. [8] Fue educado por una institutriz hasta la edad de once años, cuando comenzó en la Escuela Preparatoria Fir Lodge en West Hill, Dulwich, en el sureste de Londres. A los trece años ingresó en Dulwich College. [6] El joven Shackleton no se distinguió particularmente como un erudito, y se decía que estaba "aburrido" por sus estudios. [6]

Más tarde se le citó diciendo: "Nunca aprendí mucho de geografía en la escuela. La literatura también consistía en la disección, el análisis sintáctico, el análisis de ciertos pasajes de nuestros grandes poetas y prosistas. Los maestros deben tener mucho cuidado de no estropear El gusto [de sus alumnos] por la poesía de todos los tiempos haciéndola una tarea y una imposición ". [6] En su último período en la escuela todavía pudo lograr el quinto lugar en su clase de treinta y uno. [9]

Oficial de la marina mercante

La inquietud de Shackleton en la escuela fue tal que se le permitió irse a los 16 e ir al mar. [10] Las opciones disponibles eran un cadete de la Royal Navy en Britania, que Shackleton no podía permitirse los buques cadetes de la marina mercantil Worcester y Conway o un aprendizaje "antes del mástil" en un velero. Se eligió la tercera opción. [10] Su padre pudo asegurarle un puesto de atraque en la North Western Shipping Company, a bordo del velero de aparejo cuadrado. Torre Hoghton. [10]

Durante los siguientes cuatro años en el mar, Shackleton aprendió su oficio, visitó los rincones más lejanos de la tierra y se familiarizó con una variedad de personas de diferentes ámbitos de la vida, aprendiendo a estar en casa con todo tipo de hombres. [11] En agosto de 1894, aprobó su examen de segundo oficial y aceptó un puesto como tercer oficial en un vapor tramp de la Welsh Shire Line. [11] Dos años más tarde, había obtenido su boleto de primer oficial, y en 1898, fue certificado como capitán de marina, lo que lo calificó para comandar un barco británico en cualquier parte del mundo. [11]

En 1898, Shackleton se unió a Union-Castle Line, el transporte de pasajeros y correo regular entre Southampton y Ciudad del Cabo. Era, como registró un compañero de barco, "una desviación de nuestro tipo habitual de oficial joven", contento con su propia compañía aunque no distante, "soltando frases de Keats [y] Browning", una mezcla de sensibilidad y agresión pero, además, simpático. [12] Tras el estallido de la Guerra de los Bóers en 1899, Shackleton se transfirió al buque de transporte Castillo de Tintagel donde, en marzo de 1900, conoció a un teniente del ejército, Cedric Longstaff, cuyo padre Llewellyn W. Longstaff era el principal patrocinador financiero de la Expedición Nacional Antártica que entonces se estaba organizando en Londres. [13]

Shackleton utilizó su relación con el hijo para obtener una entrevista con Longstaff senior, con miras a obtener un lugar en la expedición. Longstaff, impresionado por el entusiasmo de Shackleton, lo recomendó a Sir Clements Markham, el jefe supremo de la expedición, dejando en claro que quería que Shackleton aceptara. [13] El 17 de febrero de 1901, su nombramiento como tercer oficial del barco de la expedición Descubrimiento Se confirmó el 4 de junio que fue comisionado en la Royal Navy, con el rango de subteniente en la Royal Naval Reserve. [14] [15] Aunque oficialmente de permiso de Union-Castle, este fue de hecho el final del servicio de la Marina Mercante de Shackleton. [13]

La Expedición Antártica Nacional Británica, conocida como la Descubrimiento expedición después del barco Descubrimiento, fue una creación de Sir Clements Markham, presidente de la Royal Geographical Society, y se había estado preparando durante muchos años. Estaba dirigido por Robert Falcon Scott, un teniente de torpedos de la Royal Navy recientemente ascendido a comandante, [16] y tenía objetivos que incluían el descubrimiento científico y geográfico. [17]

A pesar de que Descubrimiento no era una unidad de la Royal Navy, Scott requirió que la tripulación, los oficiales y el personal científico se sometieran a las condiciones de la Ley de Disciplina Naval, y el barco y la expedición se llevaron a cabo en las líneas de la Royal Navy. [18] Shackleton aceptó esto, a pesar de que sus propios antecedentes e instintos favorecían un estilo de liderazgo diferente y más informal. [19] Los deberes particulares de Shackleton fueron enumerados como: "A cargo del análisis de agua de mar. Proveedor de servicios de catering. A cargo de bodegas, almacenes y provisiones [.] También organiza los entretenimientos". [20]

Descubrimiento Partió de Londres el 31 de julio de 1901, llegando a la costa antártica, vía Ciudad del Cabo y Nueva Zelanda, el 8 de enero de 1902. Después de aterrizar, Shackleton participó en un vuelo experimental en globo el 4 de febrero. [21] También participó, con los científicos Edward Adrian Wilson y Hartley Ferrar, en el primer viaje en trineo desde los cuarteles de invierno de la expedición en McMurdo Sound, un viaje que estableció una ruta segura hacia la Gran Barrera de Hielo. [22] Durante el invierno antártico de 1902, en los confines del glaciar Descubrimiento, Shackleton editó la revista de la expedición Los tiempos del polo sur. [23]

Según el mayordomo Clarence Hare, él era "el más popular de los oficiales entre la tripulación, siendo un buen mezclador", [24] aunque las afirmaciones de que esto representaba un liderazgo rival no oficial de Scott no están respaldadas. [25] Scott eligió a Shackleton para acompañar a Wilson ya él mismo en el viaje sur de la expedición, una marcha hacia el sur para alcanzar la mayor latitud posible en dirección al Polo Sur. Esta marcha no fue un intento serio contra el Polo, aunque el logro de una latitud alta fue de gran importancia para Scott, y la inclusión de Shackleton indicaba un alto grado de confianza personal. [25] [26]

El partido partió el 2 de noviembre de 1902. La marcha fue, escribió Scott más tarde, "una combinación de éxito y fracaso". [27] Se alcanzó un récord de la latitud sur más lejana de 82 ° 17 ', superando el récord anterior establecido en 1900 por Carsten Borchgrevink. [a] [28] El viaje se vio empañado por el mal desempeño de los perros, cuya comida se había contaminado y que rápidamente se enfermaron. [29] Los 22 perros murieron durante la marcha. Los tres hombres sufrieron en ocasiones ceguera de la nieve, congelación y, en última instancia, escorbuto. En el viaje de regreso, Shackleton, según admitió él mismo, se había "descompuesto" y ya no podía realizar su parte del trabajo. [30]

Más tarde negó la afirmación de Scott en El viaje del descubrimiento, que lo habían llevado en el trineo. [31] Estaba en una condición seriamente debilitada. La entrada del diario de Wilson del 14 de enero dice: "Shackleton ha estado todo menos a la altura, y hoy está decididamente peor, tiene muy poco aliento y tos constantemente, con síntomas más serios que no necesitan". se detallará aquí, pero que no son de poca importancia a ciento sesenta millas del barco ".

El 4 de febrero de 1903, el grupo finalmente llegó al barco. Después de un examen médico (que no resultó concluyente), [32] Scott decidió enviar a Shackleton a casa en el barco de socorro. Mañana, que había llegado a McMurdo Sound en enero de 1903. Scott escribió: "No debería correr el riesgo de sufrir más dificultades en su actual estado de salud". [32] Existe la conjetura de que el motivo de Scott para eliminarlo fue el resentimiento por la popularidad de Shackleton, y que la mala salud se utilizó como excusa para deshacerse de él. [33]

Años después de la muerte de Scott, Wilson y Shackleton, Albert Armitage, el segundo al mando de la expedición, afirmó que había habido una pelea en el viaje al sur, y que Scott le había dicho al médico del barco que "si no volverá enfermo, volverá en desgracia ". [32] No hay corroboración de la historia de Armitage. Shackleton y Scott se mantuvieron en términos amistosos, al menos hasta la publicación del relato de Scott sobre el viaje al sur en El viaje del descubrimiento. [31] Aunque en público se mantuvieron mutuamente respetuosos y cordiales, [34] según el biógrafo Roland Huntford, la actitud de Shackleton hacia Scott se convirtió en "ardiente desprecio y aversión", el rescate del orgullo herido requirió "un regreso a la Antártida y un intento de superar Scott ". [31]

Después de un período de convalecencia en Nueva Zelanda, Shackleton regresó a Inglaterra vía San Francisco y Nueva York. [35] Como la primera persona importante que regresó de la Antártida, descubrió que estaba muy solicitado, el Almirantazgo deseaba consultarlo acerca de sus propuestas adicionales para el rescate de Descubrimiento. [36] Con la bendición de Sir Clements Markham, aceptó un puesto temporal ayudando a equipar el Terra Nova para el segundo Descubrimiento operación de socorro, pero rechazó la oferta de navegar con ella como oficial jefe. También colaboró ​​en el equipamiento del argentino Uruguay, que estaba siendo preparado para el relevo de la expedición antártica sueca varada bajo el mando de Otto Nordenskjold. [35]

En busca de un empleo más permanente, Shackleton solicitó una comisión regular en la Royal Navy, a través de la ruta de puerta trasera de la Lista Complementaria, [37] pero a pesar del patrocinio de Markham y William Huggins, el presidente de la Royal Society, él no fue exitoso. [35] En cambio, se convirtió en periodista, trabajando para el Revista Real, pero encontró esto insatisfactorio. [38] Luego se le ofreció, y aceptó, la secretaría de la Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS), cargo que asumió el 11 de enero de 1904. [38] El 9 de abril de 1904, se casó con Emily Dorman, con quien tuvo tres hijos: Raymond, Cecily y Edward, él mismo un explorador y luego un político. [39]

En 1905, Shackleton se convirtió en accionista de una empresa especulativa que tenía como objetivo hacer una fortuna transportando tropas rusas a casa desde el Lejano Oriente. A pesar de las garantías que le dio a Emily de que "estamos prácticamente seguros del contrato", no salió nada de este plan. [40] También se aventuró en la política, presentándose sin éxito en las elecciones generales de 1906 como candidato del Partido Liberal Unionista para la circunscripción de Dundee en oposición al Gobierno autónomo irlandés. [b] [41] Mientras tanto, había aceptado un trabajo con el adinerado industrial de Clydeside William Beardmore (más tarde Lord Invernairn), con una comisión itinerante que implicaba entrevistar a posibles clientes y entretener a los amigos de negocios de Beardmore. [42] Shackleton en ese momento no ocultaba su ambición de regresar a la Antártida a la cabeza de su propia expedición.

Beardmore quedó lo suficientemente impresionado con Shackleton como para ofrecer apoyo financiero, [c] [43] pero resultó difícil conseguir otras donaciones. Sin embargo, en febrero de 1907, Shackleton presentó a la Royal Geographical Society sus planes para una expedición antártica, cuyos detalles, bajo el nombre de British Antarctic Expedition, se publicaron en el boletín de la Royal Geographical Society. Revista geográfica. [9] El objetivo era la conquista tanto del Polo Sur geográfico como del Polo Magnético Sur. Shackleton luego trabajó duro para persuadir a otros amigos y conocidos ricos para que contribuyan, incluido Sir Philip Lee Brocklehurst, quien suscribió £ 2,000 (aproximadamente el equivalente a £ 212,000 en 2019) para asegurar un lugar en la expedición [44], el autor Campbell Mackellar y Guinness. barón Lord Iveagh, cuya contribución se obtuvo menos de dos semanas antes de la salida del barco de expedición Nimrod. [45]

El 4 de agosto de 1907, Shackleton fue nombrado miembro de la Royal Victorian Order, 4th Class (MVO el grado actual de teniente). [46]

El 1 de enero de 1908, el Nimrod partió en la Expedición Antártica Británica desde el puerto de Lyttelton, Nueva Zelanda. Los planes originales de Shackleton habían previsto utilizar el antiguo Descubrimiento base en McMurdo Sound para lanzar sus intentos en el Polo Sur y el Polo Sur Magnético. [44] Antes de salir de Inglaterra, había sido presionado para que le prometiera a Scott que no se basaría en el área de McMurdo, que Scott reclamaba como su propio campo de trabajo. Shackleton accedió a regañadientes a buscar alojamiento de invierno en Barrier Inlet, que Descubrimiento había visitado brevemente en 1902, o la Tierra del Rey Eduardo VII. [47]

Para conservar carbón, el barco fue remolcado por el vaporizador 1.650 millas (2.655 km) Koonya al hielo de la Antártida, después de que Shackleton persuadiera al gobierno de Nueva Zelanda y a la Union Steamship Company de compartir el costo. [48] ​​De acuerdo con la promesa de Shackleton a Scott, el barco se dirigió al sector este de la Gran Barrera de Hielo, llegando allí el 21 de enero de 1908. Encontraron que la Ensenada de la Barrera se había expandido para formar una gran bahía, en la que había cientos de ballenas, lo que llevó al bautizo inmediato de la zona como Bahía de las Ballenas. [49]

Se señaló que las condiciones del hielo eran inestables, lo que impedía el establecimiento de una base segura allí. Una búsqueda prolongada de un fondeadero en King Edward VII Land resultó igualmente infructuosa, por lo que Shackleton se vio obligado a romper su compromiso con Scott y zarpar hacia McMurdo Sound, una decisión que, según el segundo oficial Arthur Harbord, fue "dictada por el sentido común". en vista de las dificultades de la presión del hielo, la escasez de carbón y la falta de una base conocida más cercana. [49] Nimrod llegó a McMurdo Sound el 29 de enero, pero fue detenido por hielo a 16 millas (26 km) al norte de Descubrimiento antigua base en Hut Point. [50] Después de considerables retrasos climáticos, la base de Shackleton finalmente se estableció en Cape Royds, a unas 24 millas (39 km) al norte de Hut Point. La fiesta estuvo muy animada, a pesar de las difíciles condiciones, la capacidad de Shackleton para comunicarse con cada hombre mantuvo a la fiesta feliz y concentrada. [51]

El "Gran viaje por el sur", [52] como lo llamó Frank Wild, comenzó el 29 de octubre de 1908. El 9 de enero de 1909, Shackleton y tres compañeros, Wild, Eric Marshall y Jameson Adams, alcanzaron una nueva latitud más al sur de 88 ° 23. 'S, un punto a sólo 112 millas (180 km) del Polo. [d] En el camino, el grupo del Polo Sur descubrió el glaciar Beardmore, que lleva el nombre del patrón de Shackleton [53], y se convirtió en las primeras personas en ver y viajar por la meseta del polo sur. [54] Su viaje de regreso a McMurdo Sound fue una carrera contra el hambre, con medias raciones durante gran parte del camino. En un momento dado, Shackleton le dio su única galleta asignada para el día al enfermo Frank Wild, quien escribió en su diario: "Todo el dinero que alguna vez se acuñó no habría comprado esa galleta y el recuerdo de ese sacrificio nunca me abandonará". . [55] Llegaron a Hut Point justo a tiempo para tomar el barco.

Los otros logros principales de la expedición incluyeron el primer ascenso del Monte Erebus y el descubrimiento de la ubicación aproximada del Polo Magnético Sur, alcanzado el 16 de enero de 1909 por Edgeworth David, Douglas Mawson y Alistair Mackay. [56] Shackleton regresó al Reino Unido como un héroe, y poco después publicó su relato de expedición, Corazón de la Antártida. Emily Shackleton registró más tarde: "El único comentario que me hizo sobre no llegar al Polo fue 'un burro vivo es mejor que un león muerto, ¿no es así?' y dije 'Sí, cariño, en lo que a mí respecta' ". [57]

En 1910, Shackleton hizo una serie de tres grabaciones describiendo la expedición utilizando un fonógrafo Edison. [58] Varias cajas de whisky y brandy, en su mayoría intactas, que quedaron en 1909 se recuperaron en 2010 para su análisis por parte de una empresa de destilación. Se ha ofrecido a la venta un resurgimiento de la fórmula antigua, y desde entonces perdida, para las marcas particulares encontradas, con una parte de las ganancias para beneficiar al Fideicomiso del Patrimonio Antártico de Nueva Zelanda, que descubrió los espíritus perdidos. [59]

Héroe público

Al regreso de Shackleton a casa, los honores públicos fueron recibidos rápidamente. El rey Eduardo VII lo recibió el 10 de julio y lo elevó a Comandante de la Real Orden Victoriana [60] [61] en la lista de Honores del Cumpleaños del Rey. En noviembre, fue nombrado caballero, convirtiéndose en Sir Ernest Shackleton. [62] [63] Fue honrado por la Royal Geographical Society, que le otorgó una medalla de oro con la propuesta de que la medalla fuera más pequeña que la otorgada anteriormente al capitán Scott no se tomó en consideración. [64] Todos los miembros del grupo en tierra de la Expedición Nimrod recibieron medallas polares de plata el 23 de noviembre, y Shackleton recibió un broche de su medalla anterior. [62] [65] Shackleton también fue nombrado hermano menor de Trinity House, un honor significativo para los marineros británicos. [60]

Además de los honores oficiales, las hazañas antárticas de Shackleton fueron recibidas en Gran Bretaña con gran entusiasmo. Al proponer un brindis por el explorador en un almuerzo ofrecido en honor a Shackleton por el Royal Societies Club, Lord Halsbury, un ex Lord Canciller, dijo: "Cuando uno recuerda lo que había pasado, uno no cree en la supuesta degeneración de los británicos raza. Uno no cree que hayamos perdido todo sentido de admiración por el coraje [y] la resistencia ". [66] El heroísmo también fue reivindicado por Irlanda: el Dublín Evening Telegraph el titular decía "Un irlandés casi alcanza el Polo Sur", [66] mientras que el Dublín Express habló de las "cualidades que eran su herencia como irlandés". [66]

Los compañeros exploradores de Shackleton expresaron su admiración. Roald Amundsen escribió, en una carta al secretario de RGS, John Scott Keltie, que "la nación inglesa ha obtenido con este acto de Shackleton una victoria que nunca podrá ser superada". [67] Fridtjof Nansen envió una efusiva carta privada a Emily Shackleton, elogiando la "expedición única que ha sido un éxito tan completo en todos los aspectos". [67] La ​​realidad era que la expedición había dejado a Shackleton profundamente endeudado, incapaz de cumplir con las garantías financieras que había dado a sus patrocinadores. A pesar de sus esfuerzos, requirió la acción del gobierno, en forma de una subvención de £ 20,000 (2008: £ 1,5 millones) para liquidar las obligaciones más urgentes. Es probable que muchas deudas no hayan sido presionadas y hayan sido canceladas.

Tiempo de oferta

En el período inmediatamente posterior a su regreso, Shackleton se dedicó a una intensa agenda de apariciones públicas, conferencias y compromisos sociales. Luego buscó sacar provecho de su celebridad haciendo una fortuna en el mundo de los negocios. [68] Entre las empresas que esperaba promover se encontraba una empresa tabacalera, [69] un plan para vender a los coleccionistas sellos postales sobreimpresos "King Edward VII Land", basado en el nombramiento de Shackleton como administrador de correos de la Antártida por las autoridades de Nueva Zelanda [70] —Y el desarrollo de una concesión minera húngara que había adquirido cerca de la ciudad de Nagybanya, ahora parte de Rumania. [71]

Ninguna de estas empresas prosperó y su principal fuente de ingresos eran las ganancias de las giras de conferencias. Todavía albergaba pensamientos de regresar al sur, aunque en septiembre de 1910, después de haberse mudado recientemente con su familia a Sheringham en Norfolk, le escribió a Emily: "Nunca volveré al sur y lo he pensado todo y mi lugar está en casa. ahora". [68] Había estado en conversaciones con Douglas Mawson sobre una expedición científica a la costa antártica entre el cabo Adare y Gaussberg, y había escrito al RGS sobre esto en febrero de 1910. [e] [72]

Cualquier reanudación futura por parte de Shackleton de la búsqueda del Polo Sur dependía de los resultados de la expedición Terra Nova de Scott, que partió de Cardiff en julio de 1910. A principios de 1912, el mundo era consciente de que el polo había sido conquistado por el noruego Roald Amundsen. . Entonces se desconocía el destino de la expedición de Scott. La mente de Shackleton se centró en un proyecto que había sido anunciado, y luego abandonado, por el explorador escocés William Speirs Bruce, para una travesía continental, desde un desembarco en el mar de Weddell, pasando por el Polo Sur hasta McMurdo Sound. Bruce, que no había logrado obtener respaldo financiero, estaba feliz de que Shackleton adoptara sus planes, [73] que eran similares a los que estaba siguiendo el explorador alemán Wilhelm Filchner. Filchner había dejado Bremerhaven en mayo de 1911 en diciembre de 1912, llegó la noticia de Georgia del Sur de que su expedición había fracasado. [f] [73] El viaje transcontinental, en palabras de Shackleton, era el "único gran objeto de los viajes antárticos" que quedaba, ahora abierto para él. [74]


Ernest Shackleton La fiesta del mar de Ross (1915-17)

La otra parte de la expedición de Shackleton, la Fiesta del Mar de Ross en Aurora, experimentó tantos peligros como los del Endurance, de hecho, mientras que Shackleton no perdió a un hombre bajo su mando directo, tres murieron al otro lado de la Antártida.

Aurora amarraría en la isla de Ross durante el invierno como base para un grupo de trineos para colocar depósitos de alimentos en la plataforma de hielo de Ross y en el glaciar Beardmore para el viaje de regreso de Shackleton. El barco salió de Hobart el día de Navidad de 1914 y llegó a la isla Ross el 9 de enero de 1915, capitaneado por Aeneas Mackintosh, que había perdido un ojo en la expedición Nimrod de Shackleton. También a bordo se encontraba un experimentado veterano polar, Ernest Joyce, pero Shackleton fue vago sobre cuál de los dos estaba al mando, lo que provocó fricciones y desastres.

Mackintosh decidió utilizar la cabaña de Scott en Cape Evans, que estaba en excelentes condiciones. El 24 de enero partió la primera expedición de depósito de depósitos. Mackintosh estaba ansioso por ponerse en movimiento en caso de que Shackleton llegara al final de este primer verano y, en contra del consejo de Joyce, presionó demasiado a los perros, todos menos cinco murieron, y gran parte de la tarea quedó sin completar.

Aurora iba a ser una base de suministro y alojamiento hasta la primavera, cuando comenzaría la instalación de los depósitos de suministros, y para mediados de marzo estaba asegurada en el cabo Evans por sus dos anclas y siete cabos de acero. Los 10 hombres que colocarían los depósitos estaban en tierra con un equipo mínimo. Pero en la noche del 6 de mayo hubo una violenta tormenta, y para las 3.00 am, el barco había desaparecido; su amarre de hielo se había desvanecido, dejando solo anclas dobladas y cabos rotos. Había sucedido antes, y esperaban que Aurora regresara, pero el barco estaba tan firmemente agarrado por el hielo como el Endurance en el otro lado del continente pasaría casi un año antes de que Aurora se liberara y regresara cojeando a Nueva Zelanda.

Después de otra tormenta de nieve, sabían que estaban abandonados durante el invierno. La primera expedición de depósito de Mackintosh todavía estaba luchando por regresar, y los cuatro en Cape Evans buscaron frenéticamente para ver lo que Scott había dejado atrás. Encontraron latas de mermelada, harina y avena, y algo de pemmican, pero no jabón, tabaco ni suministros médicos, y su única ropa era la que vestían y ropa interior de repuesto. Mataron focas para obtener carne y combustible, y siguieron realizando observaciones científicas.

Para el 2 de junio, el hielo marino estaba lo suficientemente firme como para que el grupo de Mackintosh regresara a Cabo Evans, donde se enteraron de la pérdida de Aurora. El rescate podría tardar en dos años, pero aún tenían que instalar depósitos de suministros para Shackleton en la primavera o seguramente moriría en la plataforma de hielo. Los suministros que dejó Scott, incluido el queroseno y dos estufas Primus, fueron un descubrimiento que les salvó la vida, y también encontraron pastel, chocolate, sacos de dormir, calcetines, ropa interior y una tienda que cortaron y cosieron en ropa de trineo.

Después de hacer un inventario, planearon transportar 1.800 kilogramos (4.000 libras) de suministros a la plataforma de hielo y establecer el depósito más alejado en Mount Hope, al pie del glaciar Beardmore, a 83 ° 40´S. Joyce estaba cediendo a Mackintosh, pero las relaciones eran tensas. A mediados de agosto, Mackintosh y el científico jefe Fred Stevens llegaron a la cabaña de Shackleton en Cape Royds y encontraron puros, tabaco, comida y jabón.

Durante septiembre transportaron suministros hasta Hut Point, el punto de partida para viajar en trineo hacia el sur. Joyce escribió: "La mayoría de nosotros usamos pantalones de lona hechos con la vieja tienda de Scott y se nos congelaron como tablas". El 26 de octubre encontraron un trineo dejado como marcador por Cherry-Garrard, una nota para Scott y seis cajas de galletas para perros impregnadas con aceite de hígado de bacalao. Joyce escribió: "Por fin hemos encontrado oro en la Antártida".

El 3 de enero de 1916, un Primus estaba quemando su propio metal, y el partido que dependía de él tuvo que retroceder. Los hombres también estaban fallando: a los 82 ° S, Mackintosh se estaba debilitando y Arnold Patrick Spencer-Smith, el capellán, tenía escorbuto. Lo dejaron en una tienda de campaña y siguieron adelante para establecer el depósito de suministros más al sur en Mount Hope el 26 de enero. Cuando regresaron, Spencer-Smith no podía caminar, lo llevaron en el trineo hasta que murió el 8 de marzo y luego lo enterraron en el hielo.

A estas alturas, todos sufrían de escorbuto, y cuando una tormenta de nieve los detuvo cerca de donde habían perecido Scott y sus compañeros, parecían dispuestos a correr el mismo destino, pero llegaron a Hut Point el 11 de marzo. Llevaban fuera más de seis meses, "sin cambiarse de ropa ni bañarse". Los cuatro que habían regresado antes habían llegado al cabo Evans, y ahora los supervivientes de Hut Point podían comer carne de foca y recuperar fuerzas. Joyce calculó que debían esperar cuatro meses para que la superficie estuviera lo suficientemente estable para cruzar al cabo Evans, pero el 8 de mayo, después de que una tormenta de nieve había despejado gran parte del hielo marino, Mackintosh anunció que él y Hayward cruzarían los 19 kilómetros ( 12 millas) que quedaba. Fue una decisión suicida: surgió una tormenta de nieve y nunca más se volvió a ver a Mackintosh y Hayward. En la noche del 15 de julio, los tres restantes, Dick Richards, Ernest Joyce y Ernest Wild, cruzaron a Cape Evans y se reunieron con los otros cuatro. Los siete hombres tuvieron que soportar una larga espera para ser rescatados.

Mientras tanto, Aurora y su tripulación se habían desplazado 1.130 kilómetros (700 millas) en el hielo. Al norte del Círculo Antártico, a medida que se acercaba el verano, esperaban que el hielo se abriera y soltara el barco, pero el hielo más suelto hizo aún más daño cuando Aurora finalmente fue liberada en marzo de 1916, tenía una fuga y se basó en un timón improvisado para cubre los 5.220 kilómetros (2.000 millas) hasta Nueva Zelanda. El 3 de abril de 1916 fue remolcada a Port Chalmers, cerca de Dunedin.

El rescate llegó al mar de Ross el 10 de enero de 1917. Dick Richards estaba afuera buscando focas cuando vio el humo de un barco. Caminó tranquilamente de regreso a la cabaña y dijo casualmente: "Hay un barco ahí fuera". Cuando vieron que el barco era Aurora, los hombres gritaron de alegría. El milagro definitivo fue cuando se dieron cuenta de que uno de los hombres que se les acercaba era Shackleton, que venía del norte, no perdido en el sur como habían pensado. John King Davis, que estaba al mando de Aurora, escribió sobre el encuentro: "Eran casi la pandilla de hombres de aspecto más salvaje que he visto ... Pero las marcas de sus grandes privaciones físicas y mentales eran más profundas que su apariencia ... los factores se habían combinado para hacer que estos desventurados individuos sean tan diferentes a los seres humanos comunes como cualquier otro que haya conocido ... Estaban aturdidos por eso, estábamos emocionados ".

Aurora atracó en Wellington el 9 de febrero de 1917, y la prueba del Partido del Mar de Ross terminó. La afirmación de Joyce de que su expedición "no tenía paralelo en los anales de los trineos polares" estaba justificada. The Discovery sledging party of Scott, Shackleton, and Wilson was out for 93 days Shackleton’s “Farthest South” took 120 days of sledging and Scott’s tragic final venture lasted 150 days. The Ross Sea Party was on the ice for 199 days, without adequate clothing or support, and burdened with food for the failed polar party—an incredible achievement.

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Led by British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-17) - or Aguante expedition - aimed to complete the first land crossing of Antarctica. But it failed entirely in this aim and is instead remembered as an incredible survival story. The expedition's two parties sailed to opposite sides of the Antarctic continent, with separate tasks, but both eventually found themselves trapped in inhospitable surroundings with insufficient supplies. The navigation skills of a New Zealander, Frank Worsley, played a crucial role in the rescue of the main party, while other New Zealanders, and the government, contributed to the rescue of the support party.

The Weddell Sea Party

The main or Weddell Sea Party, which was meant to make the Antarctic crossing, failed to even reach the continent. They left South Georgia on 5 December 1914 but within days of their departure struck pack ice in the Weddell Sea. After two months of unpredictable progress their vessel, the Aguante, captained by New Zealander Frank Worsley, became trapped between ice floes. The party spent autumn and winter onboard drifting with the pack - with Shackleton hoping to free the vessel when the pack broke up in the spring. But when the melt came it bought immense pressure upon the Aguante. In October 1915 the vessel was crushed and the party was forced to abandon it for the ice floe.

They spent much of the following summer and autumn camping on the ice floe Shackleton also organised two aborted marches across the floe in the hope of reaching land. Then on 8 April 1916 the floe suddenly split and the party was forced to take to the three lifeboats they had carried with them. Over the next week the party - with Worsley as navigator - made its way to Elephant Island. They reached solid land but the island was uninhabited and rarely visited. If they were to be rescued it remained necessary for some of the party to make the voyage to South Georgia - 1300 kms away.

Shackleton led the rescue party, selecting five men to accompany him. Among them was carpenter Harry McNeish, who modified the 6.7-m lifeboat, the James Caird, for the journey, and Worsley, who was appointed navigator. Despite harrowing conditions and navigational difficulties, the party reached South Georgia on 10 May 1916. The 16-day voyage is still considered ‘one of the greatest boat journeys ever accomplished'.

But the party's journey was not yet over. They had landed on the uninhabited west coast of South Georgia and faced a lengthy overland journey to reach a whaling station in the east. Shackleton, Worsley and Thomas Crean made the arduous 36-hour journey across glaciers and mountains with little more than a length of rope, an adze and a compass. Then, a little under a day after reaching the whaling station, Worsley set out to rescue the remainder of the lifeboat party from the west. At the same time Shackleton began preparations to rescue his men from Elephant Island. By the time Shackleton arrived on Elephant Island - four attempts and four months later - the remaining party's supplies were nearly exhausted and they were seriously considering trying to sail to another island.

The Ross Sea Party

Throughout this period the support or Ross Sea Party, which was tasked with laying depots for the crossing, was unaware of the problems facing the Weddell Sea Party. Their vessel, the Aurora, arrived in Antarctica in January 1915 and a shore party immediately set about establishing a base at Cape Evans and laying depots. The depot-laying party faced setbacks during their first season, including the death of ten dogs. Their problems were compounded in May when the Aurora became trapped in sea ice and was carried away - along with two members of the shore party and most of their supplies.  Despite their difficulties the shore party carried out their depot-laying tasks the following season - believing that the lives of Shackleton and his men were depending on them.

With assistance from New Zealand in the latter part of its journey, the Aurora finally made it to Port Chalmers on 2 April 1916. It was almost a year since it had been carried from Antarctica, stranding the shore party. As there was also no news of the Weddell Sea Party there was conflict over which party should be given priority. Eventually the British, Australian and New Zealand governments agreed to contribute funds to a rescue effort to the Ross Sea. The New Zealand government also agreed to meet other liabilities, including the crew's wages. As efforts began to ready the Aurora, news arrived of the Weddell Sea Party. Shackleton learned there was still one more rescue needed - but this time he had to fight to be involved. The governments, which were now claiming ownership of the Aurora, insisted that it be captained by John King Davis. Eventually, through the intervention of New Zealand Minister of Marine Robert McNab, an agreement was reached between Shackleton and Davis. los Aurora left Port Chalmers on 20 December 1916, with Davis as captain and Shackleton signed on as a supernumerary officer.

The Ross Sea Party sighted the Aurora on the morning of 10 January 1917. In the hours that followed Shackleton learned that three of his men had died, while the seven survivors discovered that all their efforts had been in vain. The men of the Ross Sea Party and their rescuers arrived in Wellington on 9 February to a heroes' welcome. But interest in their story was quickly lost amid the terrible carnage of the First World War.


Stark images of Shackleton's struggle

A century ago a ship sank beneath the ice of the Weddell Sea off Antarctica. Sir Ernest Shackleton had been counting on Endurance to help him make it ashore, ahead of a trek across the continent past the South Pole.

Now, newly digitised images capturing the last days of Endurance, and the crew's subsequent struggle to stay alive, are on show at the Royal Geographical Society in London.

"Frank Hurley's beautiful image of Endurance confuses people because the sails are up," says the Antarctic historian, Meredith Hooper, who has curated the exhibition, Enduring Eye.

"And yet she is beset in the ice. The sails are up because they had reached a moment when the crew thought they could break free."

Shackleton - with the help of his 27-man crew - had planned to cross Antarctica from coast to coast, picking up supplies left by a second team as he neared the other side.

"He minded very much that he wasn't the first at the South Pole," says Hooper.

"He saw the Endurance expedition as the last great Antarctic achievement."

But he never made mainland Antarctica. After a six-day gale in January 1915, the Norwegian-built ship became trapped in ice in the Weddell Sea.

She would then drift in the ice for ten months - with Shackleton and his men living on board.

Their daily lives were recorded by Australian photographer Frank Hurley.

Hurley's images show how the crew survived during that uncertain period - when they were at the whim of the shifting pack ice.

The photograph above shows a football match on the ice.

Meredith Hooper says it was taken in mid-February 1915, after the men had tried to release Endurance for one last time, but then had to accept they were stuck - with the cold and dark Antarctic winter approaching.

"Shackleton saw the match as a good way to let off steam. They had even flattened the ice to create a pitch."

Endurance's role changed from that of a ship to that of a shore station. Many of the crew were assigned new sleeping quarters in the hold - mockingly they called it The Ritz.

The tradition of scrubbing the floor remained, and everyone - except perhaps Shackleton himself - took their turn.

In this photo we see Jock Wordie the expedition geologist on the left - with Third Officer Alfred Cheetham in the centre - and Alexander Macklin the ship's doctor on the right.

Photographer Frank Hurley has placed himself in this picture - which shows him playing chess to fill the long dark winter days of mid-1915.

"We know this was taken before May 1915," says Meredith Hooper.

"Because in May they all had a fit of madness and decided to shave their heads. And in this photo, Hurley, on the left, still has his hair."

Hurley's hair is growing back in the next photo, which was taken in his cabin. Macklin the doctor is on the right.

For the first time, Hurley's images have been scanned digitally direct from the original glass plates on which they were taken - revealing details never seen before. The mid-ground and background in each shot is crisper and sharper.

"You can see the Australian flag, a penguin picture and a boomerang," says Hooper.

"But I particularly like the Carsons chocolates by Hurley's bed. On Saturday nights the crew would toast sweethearts and wives - and for those who didn't want alcohol, like Hurley, Shackleton had provided chocolates."

Back in "The Ritz", this photo shows the midwinter dinner to celebrate the shortest day of the year - 22 June 1915.

The cabin is adorned with the UK, Australian and New Zealand flags.

"They had peas," says Hooper. "But no one had yet started eating. Knives and forks are poised."

"On the left is Perce Blackborow, a stowaway who was given the job of steward."

The same space is transformed for this posed image which shows what Endurance's crew did on a typical day. Scientific experiments, typing and reading.

The steward, Blackborow, is again in shot on the left. He is carrying a large block of ice to be turned into drinking water.

Here, a group of men are gathered around the ship's stove during the night watch.

"There would normally be only one or two men on the night watch," says Hooper. "But people on that shift got extra food, and so your mates would suddenly appear.

"Hurley is expressing intimacy and comradeship."

Looking at the next two images, Hooper says they were both taken on the same day - possibly 1 September 1915.

First, Hurley is shown taking a photo with his heavy equipment - under the prow of Endurance and standing on big chunks of crumbling ice.

And then there is an image of the rest of the crew.

"Personally I think the group shot was taken as a morale booster," says Hooper. "You can see the light is back, spring is coming, and all the men are dressed in new kit. It's very much a posed photo."

Dogs were on board ship with the crew. Shackleton had planned to cross Antarctica with them.

But in time, as feeding the animals becoming an issue, the dogs had to be put down.

"They found it very difficult," says Hooper.

Endurance was subjected to huge pressure from the ice - and there were moments when she listed, but then righted herself.

But by the end of October 1915, with water leaking in, the crew took the decision to decamp on to the ice.

"They described a terrifying experience," says Hooper.

"They had to move their tents twice in one night, with the ice cracking and squealing. And then there was the sound of the ship suffering - it was crying like a wounded animal."

Endurance sank on 21 November 1915.

Here, outside their tent on the ice, Hurley on the left and Shackleton on the right.

Hurley is cutting fine strips of seal blubber - fuel for the portable stove which sits between them, and which he invented.

"It was also endlessly wet," says Hooper. "And when the right day came - with some wind and some sunshine - they tried to dry all their stuff."

Hurley was forced to become more selective with his subject matter as time went on - and in the end he destroyed 400 of his negatives, keeping only 120, of which the Royal Geographical Society now looks after 68.

By April 1916, in three small boats which had been taken off Endurance, Shackleton and his crew left the floating ice and started an arduous voyage to uninhabited Elephant Island.

It took them seven long days - but miraculously, everyone survived.

Then - in one boat from Elephant Island - Shackleton took five of his crew on a 750-mile journey to South Georgia, where there were whaling stations. Finally he managed to raise the alarm.

This last image shows the Yelcho - a Chilean steamer - returning to pick up the remaining 22 men from Elephant Island at the end of August 1916.

"The story ended successfully but at any point - almost daily - it could have ended in disaster," says Hooper.

"The story which had to be told was the success of survival - and Frank Hurley's images are terribly important in that narrative."

Enduring Eye: The Antarctic Legacy of Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Hurley can be seen at the Royal Geographical Society in London from 21 November 2015 until 28 February 2016.


Hurley’s Equipment

An example of Hurley's Goerz-Anschutz (expired auction photograph, no attribution)

Hurley was initially hired to take scientific and research photos for the expedition. To be prepared to capture as much of the expedition as possible, Hurley assembled an immense collection of equipment. The Lone Hand, an Australian magazine, bragged that

Hurley is taking the best photographic equipment that has ever been sent out on an expedition.

Hurley with his Prestwich Cine

Able to choose from almost anything available, Hurley brought a Goerz-Anschutz plate camera, a Kodak Panorama Box Camera, several Folmer & Schwing Graflex single lens reflex cameras (equivalent in size and weight to bulky medium format cameras), several Kodak Folding Pocket (FPK) No. 3A cameras, a Prestwich No. 5 cinema camera, and the brand new Kodak Vest Pocket Camera.

An example of Hurley's SLRs (expired auction photograph, no attribution)

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton

Ernest Shackleton was one of the most celebrated explorers of the Heroic Age. He led the 1907-09 Nimrod Antarctic expedition, which pioneered a route to the South Pole and reached latitude 88° 23′. His return to Antarctica in 1914 was intended to achieve the first trans-Antarctic crossing, but instead resulted in a dramatic story of disaster, shipwreck and survival. He died in South Georgia at the start of his final expedition in 1922.

Discovery Expedition (1901–1903)

Shackleton came from an Anglo-Irish family, and began a career in the British merchant navy. He was then recruited to join Robert Scott’s two-year Discovery Expedition and, with Scott and Edward Wilson, achieved a pioneering 93-day sledge journey across the Ross Ice Shelf towards the South Pole, a total of 957 miles (1540 km). However, Shackleton suffered on that expedition, and Scott decided to send him home, unwillingly, after the first season.

Nimrod Expedition (1907–1909)

Back at home in England, Shackleton married his fiancé Emily Dorman, and the first two of their three children were born. But Shackleton was now inspired by the idea of Antarctic exploration, and began plans for his own expedition to the continent and the South Pole. In 1907 he set off with his newly acquired ship Nimrod, dogs, ponies, a motor car and a strong team of men, including Professor Edgeworth David, Douglas Mawson, Frank Wild and Tom Crean. Among the many achievements of this remarkable expedition were the first ascent of Mount Erebus and the reaching of the South Magnetic Pole, but most famous is his sledge journey towards the South Pole.

Leaving their winter quarters on October 29, 1908, they crossed the Ross Ice shelf, passing Scott’s furthest south of 82°16½‘ S, and found a route onto the Antarctic Plateau via a glacier which he named Beardmore Glacier in honor of his main sponsor. This would be the route that Scott would follow on his later South Pole expedition of 1911/12. Shackleton pressed on towards the Pole with his companions Jameson Adams, Frank Wild and Eric Marshall, but on January 9, 1908 at 88°23‘ S he decided to turn back, only 97 nautical miles (180 km) from the Pole, to ensure the safe return of the party. “Whatever regrets may be, we have done our best.” Shackleton wrote. Amundsen was to remember that moment on his own southward journey:

“We did not pass that spot without according our highest tribute to the man who – together with his gallant companions – had planted his country’s flag so infinitely nearer the goal than any of his predecessors. Sir Ernest Shackleton’s name will always be written in the annals of Antarctic exploration with letters of fire.”

Endurance Expedition (1914–1917)

On his return to Britain, Shackleton was awarded his knighthood for his ground-breaking achievements on the Nimrod Expedition. He had demonstrated that the South Pole was attainable, and he always hoped to return to the continent to complete his conquest of the Pole. Early 1912, however, the news came that Amundsen and, later, Scott had claimed that prize. The final goal left for Shackleton was to attempt the first trans-Antarctic crossing from coast to coast and so the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition was born.

los Aguante left England at the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914, with many dogs, the ship’s cat, and a crew ultimately of 28. The aim was to land the sledging party on the Weddell Sea coast from where they would cross entirely unknown territory to the South Pole, and thence to the Ross Sea. Another ship, the Aurora, left Australia, with instructions to lay depots for the final leg of the sledge crossing. But heavy sea ice prevented Shackleton from making landfall as he wished and after nine months beset in the ice, the ship succumbed to the pressure of the ice, and was sunk in the Weddell Sea.

The 28 men survived on the ice for a further five months, until a desperate open boat journey found them at Elephant Island, a remote and desolate island in the South Shetlands. Shackleton and five companions then made an extraordinary open boat journey to South Georgia, followed by the first crossing of the mountainous island to Grytviken, where they received help from astonished whalers. Every man on Elephant Island was eventually rescued. Although the original goal was not achieved, the aptly-named Endurance Expedition has become legendary in exploration history.

Quest Expedition (1921-1922)

After the war, Shackleton, and indeed many of his fellow expeditioners, continued to be irresistibly drawn to Antarctica. His final expedition, this time on board the Búsqueda, lacked defined objectives and on arriving at Grytviken in South Georgia, Shackleton died of ill-health on January 22, 1922. He is buried in the whalers’ graveyard on the island, and today his grave is visited by thousands for whom the name of Ernest Shackleton is synonymous with the Heroic Age of exploration.


Cuota

It would be his third south polar expedition and the one that would secure his place in history. Boldly titled the “Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition” in 1914 fundraising appeals, Sir Ernest Shackleton intended to lead a team of six men across the continent in an 1,800 mile trek from the Weddell Sea, via the South Pole, to McMurdo Sound. It was an audacious undertaking and 5,000 men and “three sporty women,” offering to wear men’s clothing, applied to go with him.

Mount Erebus, the active volcano in Antarctica that was scaled by Sir Ernest Shackleton. [jeaneeem]

Shackleton had set international records for making the largest advance to the South Pole while on two prior expeditions and he had climbed the continent’s most active volcano. But when the Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundson, became the first man to reach the South Pole, a transcontinental trek was the last Antarctic challenge that remained. As Shackleton later put it, “[i]t seemed the thing to do.”

Shackleton on board Aurora, 1914.

Shackleton proposed to employ two ships. los HMS Endurance would carry the main party to the Weddell Sea and make landfall in Vahsel Bay. There, Shackleton, leading a crew of six men on dogsleds, would begin the march across the continent. los Aurora would carry a supporting party to McMurdo Sound on the opposite side of the continent. They would establish supply depots along the second half of the transpolar route to insure that Shackleton and his land crew had adequate supplies for the second leg of the journey.

Winston Churchill in his Admiralty uniform, 1914.

If Shackleton’s expedition succeeded, Britain could claim his accomplishment as a national honor and the British government, along with private parties, contributed funds to help launch the expedition. Despite the outbreak of the Great War on August 3, 1914, the Aguante was directed to “proceed” by Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiraly. Y lo hizo. los Aguante set sail from Britain on August 8.

Shackleton, right, during an earlier south polar expedition.

By 1914, Antarctica had been a center of international scientific and geographical exploration for two decades, a period known as the “Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. " Seventeen major Antarctic expeditions had been launched from ten countries during this period as men and nations competed with one another for the accolades that came with daring personal achievement. During these expeditions, using primitive means of transportation and communication, the geographic and magnetic poles had been reached, much of Antarctica’s coastline had been mapped, and large portions of the continent’s interior had been explored.

Pero el Aguante would never reach Antarctica. After becoming trapped in pack ice in the Weddell Sea, the ship and its 28-man crew would drift northward throughout the winter of 1915. And when the warming of springtime came, shifting ice crushed the oak hull of the Endurance, thought at the time to be one of the strongest ships ever built. When the ship sank, Shackleton and his crew were left stranded on drift ice and survival became their only goal.

The Endurance, being crushed by the ice.

As their situation grew perilous, Shackleton and his crew manned lifeboats and rowed to Elephant Island, an uninhabited place where they established a makeshift camp. From there, Shackleton and five others traveled 800 miles in open ocean, in the largest of the lifeboats, to seek help at whaling stations located on South Georgia Island. Battling storms and waves, the lifeboat made landfall and Shackleton sought help for his remaining crew still stranded on Elephant Island.

Mrs. Chippy, the cat belonging to a carpenter aboard the Endurance.

Shackleton made two rescue attempts from South Georgia Island, using ships provided by British companies but sea ice prevented the ships from reaching Elephant Island. Shackleton made a third attempt in a ship loaned by the government of Uruguay, but this attempt also failed. But a fourth attempt was successful. A tug boat provided by the Chilean government and commanded by a Chilean naval officer [the Yelcho], managed to sail through the ice and reach the men on Elephant Island. It was August 25, 1916 — two years since the Aguante had set sail. Victorious, the Yelchocarried Shackleton and his rescued crewmen to safety in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Shackleton, at “Ocean Camp,” after the wreck of the Endurance.

Shackleton’s ill-fated expedition, called the last of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, ended in near disaster. Saved by the intervention of the Chilean government, Shackleton and his crew lived to tell their story. In a glory borne from spectacular failure, Shackleton became famous for his extraordinary feat of endurance. But the international effort that salvaged Shackleton’s failure presaged the polar expeditions of the future. No longer marked by quests for personal glory or national achievement, the great continent would become a place of peaceful international scientific collaboration.

On three prior occasions commencing in the 1880s, scientists had set aside individual efforts and organized coordinated international polar and meteorological research. The third of these collaborative efforts, known as the International Geophysical Year, was an eighteen month period in the late 1950s in which a dozen nations engaged in extensive cooperative research in Antarctica.

Antarctic research station.

When this period ended in 1958, President Eisenhower proposed that the twelve nations then having interests in the Antarctic enter into a treaty that would ensure a permanent, peaceful status for the continent. Year-long negotiations culminated in the Antarctic Treaty, which came into effect in 1961 with the treaty’s ratification by all twelve governments [Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the USSR, the UK and the U.S.]

The Treaty was signed during the height of the Cold War — an amazing accomplishment. Here are its main provisions:

prohibits military activity in Antarctica, except in support of science (e.g., military helicopter rescues) prohibits military bases, maneuvers, and the testing of any weapons

prohibits nuclear explosions and the disposal of nuclear waste

promotes scientific research and the exchange of data obligates the Treaty parties to inform the others in advance of constructing facilities or engaging in expeditions

allows Treaty parties to observe the facilities of the other parties, including aerial observation

suspends, without resolution, all territorial claims that any nation may have asserted over Antarctica and bars the assertion of new claims

a 1998 addition to the Treaty bans development and mining, asserting the desire that Antarctica remain a pristine wilderness

signatories must seek negotiated, peaceful settlements of Antarctic disputes, with referrals to the International Court of Justice as a last resort.

The Treaty has served as the governing law in Antarctica for six decades. A ten-person office in Buenos Aires, Argentina, known as the Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty, administers the Treaty provisions for the 53 nations that now have either signed the Treaty or who have otherwise agreed to abide by its terms. While the Treaty has no fixed expiration date, its provisions are scheduled for periodic review. The next review is scheduled for 2048.

The U.S. State Department views the Antarctic Treaty as the earliest post-war arms control agreement. It served as a model for later international treaties that excluded nuclear weapons from outer space, from Latin America, and from the seabed.

Emperor Penguin. [Christopher Michel]

The ever-growing world demand for natural resources, combined with the rise of China as a global power, has placed this Antarctic governing structure in jeopardy. Experts cite several concerns:

Antarctica remains the last pristine continent. It contains the world’s largest store of freshwater and holds huge reserves of oil, gas and other minerals.

Climate scientists believe that data from studies in Antarctica hold the key to understanding how quickly climate change will impact the rest of the globe.

Antarctic glacier. [Gary Bembridge]

There are now more than 75 scientific research stations on Antarctica. China has constructed five stations on the continent, but failed to obtain the required permits for its most recent one and China recently proposed a controversial requirement that a special code of conduct apply to an area surrounding its most recent station. Two other Chinese stations are deep within Antarctica’s interior in territory once claimed by Australia. Officials in Australia fear that China is making preparations to challenge Australia’s territorial claims to the so-called “Australian Antarctic Territory” if the Treaty fails in the future.

As fishing areas in other seas become depleted, the Southern Ocean, which surrounds Antarctica, is becoming a significant fishing ground — particularly for krill. Additions to the Treaty have established marine protected areas that bar commercial fishing, but Russia and China have objected to proposals to expand them.

Cruise ship passengers trek through Antarctic coastland. [Gary Bembridge]

More than 51,000 tourists visited Antarctica last year. There are 33 polar expedition vessels that bring international tourists to the continent and 20 new vessels are under construction. It is an unregulated industry that has expanded from offering visitors limited guided tours to offering skying and kayaking trips. While most Antarctic tourists are American, the fastest growing source of visitors is China.

The U.S., Russia and China all have infrastructure in Antarctica to aid their global positioning systems, which are critical to guiding military weapons, vehicles and vessels. Ground stations near the South Pole have been shown to increase the accuracy of global satellite navigation systems. Critics worry that the line between military and nonmilitary uses of the continent are blurring.

The continent of Antarctica, from an enhanced NASA satellite image. [Dave Pape]

After six decades of international cooperation, the continent of Antarctica may be returning to an era of nationalistic competition. The goal of keeping Antarctica a pristine wilderness open to cooperative scientific investigation may give way to the demands of nations seeking dominance there, as a means of satisfying the wants and needs of their growing populations.

Much is at risk if this change occurs but there are few voices sounding an alarm.

The Shackleton crater on the Moon. The lunar south pole lies within this crater, which is in the shadows most of the time. [Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, Texas]

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The Rescue Mission

Ernest Shackleton’s rescue mission wasn’t over. The lifeboat had landed on the uninhabited western shore of South Georgia Island reaching the whaling station on the island’s eastern side would require hiking the island on foot.

“The final stage of the journey had still to be attempted,” Shackleton wrote. “Over on Elephant Island 22 men were waiting for the relief that we alone could secure for them. Their plight was worse than ours. We must push on somehow.”

Shackleton, Worsley, and another man, Tom Crean, readied themselves to leave the other three men behind and hike more than 20 miles of uncharted land rife with mountains and glaciers. They brought three days worth of rations any more would be too much of a burden for the final leg of their journey. McNish took brass screws from the Caird and affixed them as spikes to the three’s shoes.

After marching 36 straight hours, the three men — ragged, haggard, and smeared with blubber soot — finally reached the whaling community on May 20, 1916. When Shackleton told the station manager who he was, a whaler within earshot began to weep.

Shackleton then had to find a ship to return to Elephant Island. Yet ice once again made it impossible to reach his Antarctic destination. For months, Shackleton made multiple rescue attempts, all of which failed.

Shackleton worried, “If anything happens to me while those fellows are waiting for me, I shall feel like a murderer.”

Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images Shackleton leads a rescue attempt for his men stranded on Elephant Island.

Finally, on his fourth attempt, Shackleton reached Elephant Island. It was Aug. 30, 1916 — four months had gone by since he’d left.

When the rescue mission spotted Elephant Island, Shackleton pulled out his binoculars, counting the men on the beach. “They are all there!” he cried.


Sir Ernest Shackleton and Endurance

Sir Ernest Shackleton, the intrepid explorer, is best remembered for embarking on a fateful voyage aboard the Endurance in a bid to cross the Antarctic.

An Anglo-Irish adventurer, he became a pivotal figure in the era later characterised as the “Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration”, thanks to the laudable and ambitious efforts of Shackleton and others like him.

In August 1914, against a backdrop of war in Europe, Shackleton embarked on an expedition to the Antarctic which almost cost him his life.

His ability to survive and keep the rest of his crew safe whilst stranded for two years still remains a remarkable story celebrating his heroism and leadership.

Shackleton’s early life began in February 1874, born in County Kildare in Ireland, the second of ten children. His family soon uprooted and moved to London where Shackleton grew up.

Ernest Shackleton aged 16

Intent on following his own path, at the age of sixteen he joined the Merchant Navy, subverting his father’s wishes for him to attend medical school. By the age of eighteen he had already achieved the rank of First Mate and only six years later was a certified Master Mariner.

His time in the Navy proved to be an enlightening experience for an adventurous young man like Shackleton as he was able to explore and expand his horizons, ultimately spurring him on to achieve greater goals.

In 1901, he joined his first expedition to the Antarctic, led by the esteemed British naval officer Robert Falcon Scott. The journey involved a challenging trek to the South Pole and was a joint venture with the Royal Society and the Royal Geographical Society.

Referred to as the Discovery Expedition, named after the ship, Scott and his team embarked on their voyage on 6th August 1901 with much support from King Edward VIII.

Ernest Henry Shackleton, Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Dr. Edward Adrian Wilson on the Discovery Expedition, 2nd November 1902

The venture had various aims, some of which were scientific and motivated by the Royal Society’s involvement, whilst other goals were simply exploratory. Of the latter, a major accomplishment was about to follow as a trek to the South Pole took Scott, Shackleton and Wilson to a significant latitude, only around 500 miles away from the pole. This was a marvellous achievement, the first of its kind, however the journey back proved too much for Shackleton.

On the brink of physical exhaustion, his body could not take any more of the gruelling challenges and he was forced to leave the expedition early and return home.

When he returned to England, Shackleton made a major career move: after serving so long in the Navy, he decided to embrace a career in journalism instead.

In the space of a few years he also made an unsuccessful attempt to become a Member of Parliament as well as serving as part of the Scottish Geographical Society.

Whilst he pursued many different ventures, the expedition to succeed in reaching the South Pole was still very much on his mind.

In 1907 he made a second attempt to achieve this goal, this time reaching a location which took him almost within 100 miles of his target. Leading his own group on the ship “Nimrod”, Shackleton and his men were able to climb Mount Erebus before being halted due to poor conditions and forced to return.

Shackleton’s Hut at Cape Royds, 19 miles from McMurdo, 1908

As part of his expedition, important scientific data had been accumulated, earning Shackleton a knighthood on his return to England.

Nevertheless, only a few years later Shackleton was disappointed to discover that his dream of reaching the South Pole had already been accomplished by another, a Norwegian explorer by the name of Roald Amundsen.

This achievement was followed by his former commander, Robert Scott who also reached the South Pole but sadly lost his life on the return home.

Whilst this success proved to be a blow for Shackleton both professionally and personally, his desire to explore remained undeterred. Forced to rethink his aims, his new goal was even more ambitious: to cross the continent of Antarctica.

So the date was set in 1914 Shackleton made his third trip to the Antarctic as part of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition aboard the ship “Endurance”. The brainchild of Shackleton, his determination to create a lasting legacy of exploration was at the heart of this ambitious project to make the first land crossing of the Antarctic.

The task for Shackleton and his men was a daunting one and required a great deal of preparation. The plan was to sail to the Weddell Sea and land near Vahsel Bay where they would embark on a march across the continent via the South Pole.

Unable to achieve these goals in just one group, an additional party of men would set up a camp in McMurdo Sound from where a series of depot spots would be set up in order to ensure enough supplies to sustain the trekking party throughout their journey.

Two ships were used: Aurora, for the supply depot team and Endurance, a three mast sailing vessel for Shackleton and his intrepid voyagers. The ship was built and completed in 1912 in Sandefjord by the master shipbuilder Christian Jacobsen who would ensure that the ship was built for durability.

Map of the routes of the ships Endurance and Aurora, the support team route. Red: Voyage of Endurance. Yellow: Drift of Endurance in pack ice. Green: Sea ice drift after Endurance sinks. Dark Blue: Voyage of the lifeboat James Caird. Light Blue: Planned trans-Antarctic route. Orange: Voyage of Aurora to Antarctica. Pink: Retreat of Aurora. Brown: Supply depot route

On 1st August 1914, just as war loomed on the horizon, Shackleton and his twenty-seven man team departed from London and set sail on this intrepid trip to the South Pole and beyond.

In just a couple of months, the ship reached South Georgia in the southern Atlantic which, unbeknown to Shackleton and his crew, would be their last time on dry land for almost five hundred days.

On 5th December 1914, they continued on their scheduled journey, however their strategy of reaching their next base was thrown up in the air when they became trapped by pack ice in the Weddell Sea before they had a chance to reach their intended station at Vahsel Bay.

As the situation worsened, the ship was crushed by the ice and began to drift in a northerly direction.

Endurance trapped in the ice

As the ship began to sink, Shackleton and his crew were forced to accept their fate, stranded on a sheet of ice in the brutal Antarctic winter of 1915.

With the ship eventually sinking into the depths, Shackleton and his crew now set up in camps on precarious sheets of ice.

After months of surviving in such unimaginable circumstances, in April 1916 Shackleton embarked on a mission to escape and reach land. A dangerous and risky endeavour, he led his men with a resolute bravery despite all the obvious obstacles to their survival.

The crew embarked on this voyage, leaving the ice sheets and crowding into three small boats in order to reach the intended destination of Elephant Island, a mountainous island in the outer reaches of the South Shetland Islands.

Eventually, after seven treacherous days at sea, the crew arrived safely at their destination. Whilst thankful to be stepping on firm ground, they were still no closer to being rescued on such a remote and uninhabited island, far away from any other human life.

Ernest Shackleton

With little prospect of surviving on the island, Shackleton took matters into his own hands and set out once more in one of his small lifeboat vessels with five of his men in order to find help.

Miraculously, the vessel and its occupants managed to navigate back towards South Georgia and in sixteen days reached the island in order to ask for assistance.

Now closer than ever to having a rescue mission come to the aide of his men, Shackleton made one final trip across the South Georgia island to where he knew a whaling station was positioned.

From this new location and with help now in tow, Shackleton did not let his men down and launched a successful rescue mission to Elephant Island where the rest of his crew were waiting.

Rather remarkably, none of the twenty-seven man team or Shackleton died in these treacherous circumstances. In August 1916 a rescue mission recovered the “Endurance” men from Elephant Island and all were safely returned home.

As for the rest of the Trans-Continental team, the supply depot party had also run into trouble with the ship Aurora but continued to lay the supplies nonetheless. Eventually, needing rescue, the party of men sadly lost three lives in the process.

Whilst the trans-continental trek was not achieved, Shackleton had accomplished a feat perhaps even more impressive. The ability to save and protect his men, living on ice sheets for months, sailing in a small boat for sixteen days across an ocean and trekking across an island to organise a rescue, the success story was their survival.

In 1919 Shackleton recorded the accounts of this remarkable endeavour in his book “South” which documented the unbelievable and astonishing story.

Living for seventeen months on ice, fending off disease, escaping predators and ensuring the survival of the entire crew was destined to be the legacy left behind by Shackleton.

In 1921, once again he set off to accomplish his dreams of exploration: sadly, this fourth expedition was to be his last as he died of a heart attack in January 1922.

Whilst Shackleton did not fulfil his ultimate goal, his successful rescue mission was much more epic than anyone, including himself, could have ever imagined.

Jessica Brain is a freelance writer specialising in history. Based in Kent and a lover of all things historical.


Ver el vídeo: El LIDERAZGO de Sir ERNEST SHACKLETON, Dirección de Proyectos.