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


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Trad climber
Montana, Whitefish
Jan 25, 2014 - 03:59pm PT
It is interesting to look at the differing experiences of the icebound Shackleton expedition with those of the ill-fated Franklin expedition.


Trad climber
Mountain View, CA/Boulder, CO
Feb 5, 2014 - 03:28am PT
I was going to right a scathing review of 'Chasing Shackleton', but John Morton(4 posts above) nailed it! Shackleton was probably laughing at all of them when they visited his grave site at the end of the show.
John Mac

Trad climber
Littleton, CO
Feb 5, 2014 - 08:04am PT
It was a bit over dramatized but still a pretty good effort and I'm sure it was difficult for them.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Feb 5, 2014 - 09:46am PT
Don't know if any of you have ever experienced or heard of a phenomenon called the "Third Man Factor," but apparently Shackelton experienced it:

From John Geiger's book The Third Man Factor:
"The Third Man Factor is a biography of an extraordinary idea: That people at the very edge of death, often adventurers or explorers, experience a sense of an incorporeal being beside them who encourages them to make one final effort to survive.

If only a handful of people had ever experienced the Third Man, it might be dismissed as an unusual delusion shared by a few overstressed minds. But the amazing thing is this: over the years, the experience has occurred again and again, to 9/11 survivors, mountaineers, divers, polar explorers, prisoners of war, solo sailors, aviators and astronauts. All have escaped traumatic events only to tell strikingly similar stories of having experienced the close presence of a helper or guardian.

The mysterious force has been explained as everything from hallucination to divine intervention. Recent neurological research suggests something else. In The Third Man Factor John Geiger combines history, scientific analysis and great adventure stories to explain this secret to survival, a Third Man who - in the words of legendary Italian climber Reinhold Messner - "leads you out of the impossible."

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Aug 22, 2014 - 06:59pm PT
Just watched this. I wasn't familiar with the original Shackleton story, and it is bind-bogglingly epic. What these guys did to reenact it is certainly a cool adventure, certainly an endeavor that few people would relish or attempt or stick with as long as they did, in the best style they were able to do. But it is hubris and self-aggrandizement for them to equate their efforts to what the folks went through 100 years ago.

You can see at various spots where they relied on modern technologies where they would have died if they had been in Shackleton's place, and they never acknowledged that clearly in the documentary. It was a golden opportunity to talk about how hard it was to do what they had to do, a vantage point from which they could more fully appreciate how truly badass the Shackleton expedition dudes were (both the rescue crew and the folks left behind waiting).

On the other hand- how contrived is it to push yourself as hard, to dig as deep for a media event / history lesson / self-promotion? When you truly know there is no backup and death is the alternative, I'm sure wells of strength appear more readily. But a modern-day recreation can't dig that deep because we know there is a way out, and that changes everything.

For a climbing analogy, it's the difference between lead climbing with SAR a few pitches below you vs. free-soloing.

All that said, I have heard of few modern recreational adventurers that did something so badass. In some of their situations, even though they had a support system in place, it wasn't enough to prevent death in case of screw-up.

Trad climber
Mar 16, 2015 - 03:41pm PT
From the Shackleton era.

Mighty Hiker

Outside the Asylum
May 20, 2016 - 01:31pm PT
Today is the centenary of the end of Shackleton's epic voyage in Endurance, first as she sailed to and was trapped with her crew in the ice of the Weddell Sea, then after she sank and the men (and dogs, and cat Mrs. Chippie - a male) continued to drift north with the ice, then the open boat voyage to Elephant Island. Followed by the voyage of James Caird to a landing at King Haakon Bay on South Georgia, and the first land crossing of that island by Shackleton, Crean and Worsley to the whaling station at Stromness.

(Endurance originally set out to make the first crossing of Antarctic, with help from a shore party based at the Ross Sea, which laid depots. As with all Shackleton's expeditions, it was somewhat "seat of the pants", being reasonably prepared, but relying more on strong leadership than planning.)

The six on James Caird were Sir Ernest Shackleton, Frank Worsley, Tom Crean, Harry McNish, John Vincent, and Timothy McCarthy. McNish in particular made a major contribution to the voyage. He was the somewhat irascible ship's carpenter, who refitted James Caird at Elephant Island so she would be as seaworthy as possible.

McNish, Vincent and McCarthy were soon rescued from King Haakon Bay by Norwegian whalers, but the remaining sixteen at Elephant Island weren't reached until August 1916, with help from the Chilean navy.

The Ross Sea party and its vessel had at least as great an epic, but did lay the needed (but never used) depots. Three of them died, and the survivors weren't relieved until early 1917.

The centenary was commemorated with a service at Westminster Abbey today.

The South Georgia Association has a good FaceBook page about all of this and more, and maybe a website too.

ps "Deja vu" (accent marks omitted).
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
May 20, 2016 - 02:35pm PT
Huzzah! For Shackleton who lost none and left no man to die. A great expedition leader.

Trad climber
May 20, 2016 - 02:56pm PT
Thanks, Mighty Hiker, for noting this anniversary.

I have an interesting book, Of Whales and Men, about a 1950 factory whaling expedition to the Southern Ocean. One of the featured characters in this non-fiction account is Mansell, the gruff, grizzled veteran of many a whaling voyage. He was at the Stromness whaling station on South Georgia island on May 20, 1916. Here's his account:

I was in manager's office at Stromness that day. Everybody at Stromness knew Jack Shackleton well, and we very sorry he is lost in ice with all hands. But we not know three terrible-looking bearded men who walk into the office off the mountainside that morning. Manager say "Who the hell are you?" and terrible bearded man in the center of the three say very quietly "My name is Shackleton." Me - I turn away and weep. I think manager weep, too.

Sport climber
May 21, 2016 - 10:45am PT
No comparison to the original feat. These recreations always seem a little lame to me. People know where there are, where they are going,will be tracking them, the clothing is much better as mentioned. Will they have a support boat following them? A camera crew to take them to the medic if they get an owwie?

Social climber
Mountain View/Boulder
Jan 27, 2018 - 04:00am PT
The great grandson of Sir Ernst Shacklton drove a specially-equipped car across Antarctica. I know Hillary and Fuchs did it in snow cats in 1958, but a car? Adventure?!?!
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Jan 27, 2018 - 07:48am PT
The car thing seems kind of dopey. This, however, is slightly more badass:

Credit: Bad Climber

Story here:


Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 27, 2018 - 07:51am PT
^^^^^ Not sure that Sir Ernest didnít just roll over in his grave. (re: the car)

Social climber
Jan 27, 2018 - 08:42am PT
I wish Antarctica was tightly closed to all but scientists & those there with an idea to study something. "Adventuring" is all but done and Antarctic does not need bozos in cars or kitted out recumbent bikes or anything to prove their own 'dream'. It's one of the few places on earth NOT over-run by us where science on what is happening to the place can be done.

Go ahead and flame me but do we really need to tick off these bucket lists?
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Jan 27, 2018 - 11:21am PT
I hear ya, Tami. When virtually EVERYTHING has been done, the "adventurers" keep finding new ways to try and stand out. It starts to seem like silly grasping after a while. And, of course, the grasping sometimes has very serious consequences--see Brett Quinn's travails. Still, the urge to strive and challenge ourselves will never go away, and Antarctica is a freakin' huge, desolate place--and brutally difficult to travel in. I don't expect it to ever get overrun. For some great reading check out (linked to free ebook): The Worst Journey in the World. Damn!


Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 27, 2018 - 11:35am PT
Still, the urge to strive and challenge ourselves will never go away,

Maybe those adventurers could challenge themselves to get a job? Thatís a pretty worthy goal for most people on this planet.

Sport climber
Yakima, WA
Jan 27, 2018 - 01:16pm PT
An excellent book about the Scott Expedition is 'The Worst Journey in the World' by Apsley Cherry-Garrard, one of the members. Incredible read. Crean from the Shackleton epic was on the Scott Expedition. Talk about asking for punishment!

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Jan 27, 2018 - 09:08pm PT
Do they plan to eat the same sort of food?

Also, Shakleton and the other two were caught too high up near the end of the day, and he said the only way they would survive and make it to Stromness Bay, would be to slide down the side of a mountain into the unknown, not knowing if the slide was survivable or not. There is this amazing scene where Worsley and Crean express total disbelief, like, "are you crazy?" Shakleton kept retorting, "can we stay where we are without freezing to death?" Finally they did it and survived the long downhill run unscathed.

Is this expedition going to do that? I doubt it, still it is a cool thing.

Social climber
Jan 27, 2018 - 09:16pm PT
I don't expect it to ever get overrun.

Getting over-run isn't the problem; it's the introduction of non-native species - from bacteria to plants and animals - that are the problem.

THen it may get over-run !

I read Apsley Cherry-Garrard's book 35 years ago. Am a long time fan.

In this world of climate change, Antarctica should remain a place of study. Not adventures for those with too much money and big bucket lists.

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Jan 27, 2018 - 10:12pm PT
What this "expedition" will do is to put the original epic in perspective.
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