Shackleton's Epic Southern Ocean Voyage Deja Vous.........


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Jon Beck

Trad climber
Jan 12, 2014 - 08:55pm PT
The expedition had a photographer who continued taking pictures. They are amazing in their quality. If you do not read the book at least get it to see the pictures.

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA/Boulder, CO
Jan 12, 2014 - 09:09pm PT
The English language book I have is titled:

Endurance by Alfred Lansing

Also of interest might be:

Shackleton's Boat Journey by F.A. Worsley

Worsley was on the journey with Shackleton so it is a first person account!

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Jan 12, 2014 - 09:13pm PT
Near the end of the trek across S. Georgia, they are caught up too high, too late in the day, with too little steam left, and it's too cold. Shakleton knows that in order to survive, they must get down quickly, so he decides they will slide down this huge, steep snow field, without knowing what's at the bottom.

The two men with him thought he was crazy, but, he kept asking them, can we stay where we are? So they slid screaming down this snow field, and they arrived at the bottom unharmed. Amazing!!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 12, 2014 - 10:35pm PT
Outstanding reenactment of an amazing feat of seafaring that was the fitting end to the greatest exploration epic that I am aware of.

Thanks for the heads up Joe!

When in doubt, glissade! Worked for Woodrow Wilson Sayre too.

An unseen hand guides the brave and true adventurers and brings us home. Endurance is shimmering evidence of that simple truth.

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
Jan 12, 2014 - 11:06pm PT
I encountered the story of the Endurance around 1975, one of the postdocs in a lab where I worked as a lab peon was a sailor and lent me Lansing's book. I made the mistake of glancing at it that evening...and read straight through the night going to work the next morning sans sleep but plenty energized. It should be absolutely required reading for everyone in junior high or so. Incredible story and bunch of guys. One of the highlights for me of all time going to museums was an exhibit about 10 or 12 years ago at the NY Museum of Natural History with a lot of actual stuff from the trip plus other similar contemporary gear, lots of photos many of which were not in any book I had seen, and the centerpiece was the actual James Caird! Though it was roped off, I was not going to leave without having laid a hand upon it to absorb some juju. And they had a sextant set up with visual of pitching and rolling seas, so you could try out your ability to get a sight from which navigation might be possible if you could peel the soggy pages of the book of tables apart.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Jan 12, 2014 - 11:44pm PT
A truly sad footnote is that about half of the men that were saved died within the next couple years....World War I


A long way from where I started
Jan 13, 2014 - 12:04am PT
Did they use rendered penguin fat for cooking and light?

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 13, 2014 - 12:04am PT
And the other 800 pound gorilla in the story is something many of us probably can relate to one
way or another - the rather less than inspiring details of Shackleton's life back in England.

Social climber
Butterfly Town
Jan 13, 2014 - 12:54pm PT
More important than penguin fat was seal blubber. At one point, while still on the ice foes, before they got in their 3 boats, they were VERY low on cooking fat for their stoves. Just before they ran out, they were attacked by a couple of leopard seals and shot them, thus renewing their fat supply.

The resourcefulness of those men was incredible. Two of many, many examples: Once they reached Elephant Island, they outfitted the James Caird with parts from the other 2 boats to make it more sea-worthy. Once they reached S. Georgia Island and found that they couldn't sail to windward around either end of the island, they removed the screws from the deck of their boat and screwed them through their boots to create make-shift crampons for climbing the ice and snow over the island to reach the whaling station.

What an epic adventure. And fabulous photos!

Social climber
Jan 13, 2014 - 06:17pm PT
While there might have been more epic adventures than Shackleton's Antarctic trip, we don't have the details of it like we do for his. I wouldn't be so quick to assess Shackleton's life while home ; all heroes are flawed.

What is remarkable, however, particularly in our day&age & what we call "adventure" is just how resourceful these chaps were. And how capable they were with technologies like finding food and navigating and how to build one thing from another. Remember they used the Dudley Docker, one of the three life-boats to get to Elephant Is, upturned as a makeshift shelter.

And while some of the men were out seeking a suitable camp spot on Elephant Is, "Clark had tried angling in the shallows off the rocks and had secured one or two small fish....Rusty needles were rubbed bright on the rocks and clothes were mended and darned."

For an equally remarkable story of navigation, refer to "The Wayfinders" by Wade Davis in which the eponymous story is about the navigators in the great canoes that populated the South Pacific.

I know that in the Cdn Navy today, navigators still learn to use the sextant. I'd love for Guido or the fabulous Seagoat to chime in on how modern mariners relate to those "old" technologies. Do mariners learn their use or depend upon battery-powered technologies...

THis is a great thread!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 13, 2014 - 06:50pm PT
Does add new depth of meaning to the phrase DEAD RECKONING.

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Jan 13, 2014 - 07:14pm PT
I know a guy who worked in the merchant marines out of Australia, basically small-crew but very big oil tankers. He learned to navigate by the stars in case everything else fails.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jan 13, 2014 - 07:47pm PT
Another adventure sequel.....a pale imitation. Chouinard once said that adventure only begins when things start to go wrong. Modern communications will enable the "adventure" to turn out well no matter what the turn of events.

Should be fun though!
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Jan 13, 2014 - 08:12pm PT
Watching the first episode right now. Looks interesting.
Larry Nelson

Social climber
Jan 13, 2014 - 08:21pm PT
Check out the story of Shackletons Forgotten Men.

Social climber
Butterfly Town
Jan 13, 2014 - 08:23pm PT
While Guido has more than adequate electronics aboard his boat, "Shanachie," when I sailed with him from N.Z. to French Polynesia, he made me practice noon "sun sights" with his sextant, so we'd have back up equipment and people aboard in case of whatever might happen.

Trad climber
Jan 21, 2014 - 02:54am PT
Shackleton's SOUTH is out of copyright and available free in the usual text and eBook formats (EPUB,PDF,HTML, etc) and as MP3 audio files at:

The audio files are computer generated, and I find I do better having my computer's voice generator just read the files to me while I am driving.

The boat journey chapter:

And there is a an original audio recording of Shackleton lecturing on his earlier polar try. (MP3)

"My south Polar Expedition by Ernest Shackleton"
John Morton

Jan 25, 2014 - 02:20pm PT
Just finished watching part 3. A difficult journey for sure, and difficult to endure for the viewer. This extreme adventure film style is getting to me: the endlessly repeated litany of "no GPS", "100 yr. old clothing" etc., the talking heads, the relentless minor key soundtrack, the slanted editing that replays the biggest waves and the steepest slopes.

Shackleton's epic is all the greater for the contrast with this trip, which utterly failed to reproduce the conditions of 1916. A support boat that warns them off the rocks, with radio contact and satellite weather data and a doctor? Some North Face tents for when something goes wrong? And they skipped the part about camping for 7 months on ice floes before setting sail. And my favorite, the water bags of rotten hairy sealskin.

It's like a tightrope walk with a tether, or a free solo with a net just off camera. I'm not saying they should do it for real and die, I'm saying it makes no sense except as a paying TV gig.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 25, 2014 - 03:06pm PT
Not exactly what I think of when I think of sailing in the Roaring For...
Not exactly what I think of when I think of sailing in the Roaring Forties.
Credit: Reilly
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jan 25, 2014 - 03:44pm PT
Mongrel, it was in 2000 I believe.

I caught it at the Field Museum.
They had reproduced the James Caird and surrounded it with big curved screens playing huge rolling waves.
I smuggled a camera in and snuck some shots. Good luck on banning cameras now.

The coolest thing was stopping on the way to Chicago at Norlin Library where I was given special permission to put on gloves and examine Frank Hurley's original prints from the expedition.
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