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South : The Endurance Expedition :  Popular Penguins - Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton

South : The Endurance Expedition

Popular Penguins


Published: 1st September 2008
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Sir Ernest Shackleton's South is one of the greatest survival stories of all time. In 1914, Shackleton led a party of men hoping to be the first to traverse the Antarctic, but when their ship became crushed by ice 350 miles from land, the expedition soon became a matter of life and death. This is the extraordinary account of treacherous seas, glaciers and relentless cold, and wonderfully encapsulates the heroic age of Antarctic exploration.



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South : The Endurance Expedition

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Inspirational, but constrained by modesty?


from Perth, AU

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      Comments about South : The Endurance Expedition:

      One of history's most amazing feats, but Shackleton's account is perhaps constrained by modesty. I enjoyed Worlsey's account "Shackleton's Boat Journey" much more - although I did read it first.

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      After the conquest of the South Pole by Amundsen, who, by a narrow margin of days only, was in advance of the British Expedition under Scott, there remained but one great main object of Antarctic journeyings - the crossing of the South Polar continent from sea to sea.

      When I returned from the Nimrod Expedition on which we had to turn back from our attempt to plant the British flag on the South Pole, being beaten by stress of circum­stances within ninety-seven miles of our goal, my mind turned to the crossing of the continent, for I was morally certain that either Amundsen or Scott would reach the Pole on our own route or a parallel one. After hearing of the Norwegian success I began to make preparations to start a last great journey - so that the first crossing of the last conti­nent should be achieved by a British Expedition.

      We failed in this object, but the story of our attempt is the subject for the following pages, and I think that though fail­ure in the actual accomplishment must be recorded, there are chapters in this book of high adventure, strenuous days, lonely nights, unique experiences, and, above all, records of unflinching determination, supreme loyalty, and generous self-sacrifice on the part of my men which, even in these days that have witnessed the sacrifices of nations and re­gardlessness of self on the part of individuals, still will be of interest to readers who now turn gladly from the red hor­ror of war and the strain of the last five years to read, per­haps with more understanding minds, the tale of the White Warfare of the South. The struggles, the disappointments, and the endurance of this small party of Britishers, hidden away for nearly two years in the fastnesses of the Polar ice, striving to carry out the ordained task and ignorant of the crises through which the world was passing, make a story which is unique in the history of Antarctic exploration.

      Owing to the loss of the Endurance and the disaster to the Aurora, certain documents relating mainly to the organization and preparation of the Expedition have been lost; but, any­how, I had no intention of presenting a detailed account of the scheme of preparation, storing, and other necessary but, to the general reader, unimportant affairs, as since the beginning of this century every book on Antarctic exploration dealt fully with this matter. I therefore briefly place before you the inception and organization of the Expedition, and insert here the copy of the program which I prepared in order to arouse the interest of the general public in the Expedition.

      The Transcontinental Party

      'The first crossing of the Antarctic continent from sea to sea via the Pole, apart from its historic value, will be a jour­ney of great scientific importance.

      'The distance will be roughly 1800 miles, and the first half of this from the Weddell Sea to the Pole, will be over unknown ground. Every step will be an advance in geo­graphical science. It will be learned whether the great Victo­ria chain of mountains, which has been traced from the Ross Sea to the Pole, extends across the continent and thus links up (except for the ocean break) with the Andes of South America, and whether the great plateau around the Pole dips gradually towards the Weddell Sea.

      'Continuous magnetic observations will be taken on the journey. The route will lead towards the Magnetic Pole, and the determination of the dip of the magnetic needle will be of importance in practical magnetism. The meteorological conditions will be carefully noted, and this should help to solve many of our weather problems.

      'The glaciologist and geologist will study ice formations and the nature of the mountains, and this report will prove of great scientific interest.

      Scientific Work by Other Parties

      'While the Transcontinental party is carrying out, for the British Flag, the greatest Polar journey ever attempted, the other parties will be engaged in important scientific work.

      'Two sledging parties will operate from the base on the Weddell sea. One will travel westwards towards Graham Land, making observations, collecting geological specimens, and proving whether there are mountains in that region linked up with those found on the other side of the Pole.

      'Another party will travel eastward toward Enderby Land, carrying out a similar program, and a third, remaining at the base, will study the fauna of the land and sea, and the meteorological conditions.

      'From the Ross Sea base, on the other side of the Pole, another party will push southward and will probably await the arrival of the Transcontinental party at the top of the Beardmore Glacier, near Mount Buckley, where the first seams of coal were discovered in the Antarctic. This region is of great importance to the geologist, who will be enabled to read much of the history of the Antarctic in the rocks.

      'Both the ships of the Expedition will be equipped for dredging, sounding, and every variety of hydrographical work. The Weddell Sea ship will endeavor to trace the un­known coastline of Graham Land, and from both the vessels, with their scientific staffs, important results may be expected.

      'The several shore parties and the two ships will thus carry out geographical and scientific work on a scale and over an area never before attempted by anyone Polar expedition.

      'This will be the first use of the Weddell Sea as a base for exploration, and all the parties will open up vast stretches of unknown land. It is appropriate that this work should be carried out under the British Flag, since the whole of the area southward to the Pole is British territory. In July 1908, Letters Patent were issued under the Great Seal declaring that the Governor of the Falkland Islands should be the Gov­ernor of Graham Land (which forms the western side of the Weddell Sea), and another section of the same proclamation defines the area of British territory as 'situated in the South Atlantic Ocean to the south of the 50th parallel of south latitude, and lying between 20 degrees and 80 degrees west longitude.' Reference to a map will show that this includes the area in which the present Expedition will work.

      How the Continent will be Crossed

      'The Weddell Sea ship, with all the members of the Ex­pedition operating from that base, will leave Buenos Aires in October 1914, and endeavour to land in November in lati­tude 78 degrees south.

      'Should this be done, the Transcontinental party will set out on their 1800-mile journey at once, in the hope of ac­complishing the march across the Pole and reaching the Ross Sea base in five months. Should the landing be made too late in the season, the party will go into winter quarters, layout depots during the autumn and the following spring, and as early as possible in 1915 set out on the journey.

      'The Transcontinental party will be led by Sir Emest Shackleton, and will consist of six men. It will take 100 dogs with sledges, and two motor sledges with aerial propel­lers. The equipment will embody everything that the experi­ence of the leader and his expert advisers can suggest. When this party has reached the area of the Pole, after covering 800 miles of unknown ground, it will strike due north towards the head of the Beardmore Glacier, and there it is hoped to meet the outcoming party from the Ross Sea. Both will join up and make for the Ross Sea base, where the pre­vious Expedition had its winter quarters.

      'In all, fourteen men will be landed by the Endurance on the Weddell Sea. Six will set out on the Transcontinental journey, three will go westward, three eastward, and two remain at the base carrying on the work already outlined.

      'The Aurora will land six men at the Ross Sea base. They will lay down depots on the route of the transcontinental party, and make a march south to assist that party, and to make geological and other observations as already described.

      'Should the Transcontinental party succeed, as is hoped, in crossing during the first season, its return to civilization may be expected about April 1915. The other sections in April 1916.

      The Ships of the Expedition.

      'The two ships for the Expedition have now been se­lected.

      'The Endurance, the ship which will take the Transconti­nental party to the Weddell Sea, and will afterwards explore along an unknown coastline, is a new vessel, specially con­structed for Polar work under the supervision of a commit­tee of Polar explorers. She was built by Christensen, the famous Norwegian constructor of sealing vessels, at Sande­fjord. She is barquentine rigged, and has triple expansion engines giving her a speed under steam of nine to ten knots. To enable her to stay longer at sea. she will carry oil fuel as well as coal. She is of about 350 tons, and built of selected pine, oak, and greenheart. This fine vessel, equipped, has cost the Expedition £14,000.

      'The Aurora, the ship which will take out the Ross Sea party, has been bought from Dr. Mawson. She is similar in all respects to the Terra Nova, of Captain Scott's last Expedition. She had extensive alterations made by the Gov­ernment authorities in Australia to fit her for Dr. Mawson's Expedition, and is now at Hobart, Tasmania, where the Ross Sea party will join her in October next.'

      ISBN: 9780141037561
      ISBN-10: 0141037563
      Series: Popular Penguins
      Audience: General
      Format: Paperback
      Language: English
      Number Of Pages: 444
      Published: 1st September 2008
      Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
      Country of Publication: GB
      Dimensions (cm): 18.0 x 11.1  x 3.3
      Weight (kg): 0.25
      Edition Number: 1