December 3, 2012
Adventurers To Recreate Epic 1916 Shackleton Journey To Antarctica
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
In 1916, a party led by Ernest Shackleton completed one of the most epic survival adventures, rowing 800 nautical miles through the icy waters of the Southern Ocean and traversing a mountainous, 32-mile section of South Georgia Island, to contact help and assemble a team to rescue the rest of his expedition team that was stranded back on Elephant Island off the coast of Antarctica.
The journey that took place almost 100 years ago, "well and truly bookmarked the end of the heroic era of exploration that started in 1895 when the first person set foot on the Antarctic and finished with the First World War," Tim Jarvis, who is leading the modern-day expedition, told the AFP.
Jarvis´s team will be without any modern equipment and will eat the same lard rations as Shackleton's team. They also intend to wear the same early 20th century clothes as they endure the punishing conditions on both land and sea.
"I'm expecting constant hardship and vigilance; there are periods of darkness down there, we're on a boat with absolutely no modern navigational aids whatsoever, we'll just be going into darkness," said Jarvis, a renowned Australian explorer and environmentalist.
"Icebergs can loom up on the horizon, we wouldn't even see them until they're on us, there are whales, it's big, big sea," he added.
Training for the $2.6 million expedition has involved basic mountaineering work in the French Alps, "testing gear and learning how to pull themselves out of crevasses with virtually no equipment -- we've only got a tiny section of rope."
With the culmination of six years of planning just weeks away, Jarvis was toasted at a presentation in Sydney with a whiskey identical to one carried on board the original rowboat. It was served in tin mugs for added authenticity.
Shackleton Epic team will depart from South America in an identical copy of Shackleton's 22-foot boat, dubbed the Alexandra Shackleton after the explorer´s granddaughter. An emergency support vessel will trail the lifeboat, but will only go in to assist in the event of a serious situation.
"You know, we ran the numbers and said what can we do with an exact replica of Shackleton's boat, without cheating, to try and make this ... less susceptible to capsize than what he had," Jarvis told Reuters.
Jarvis said he hopes the journey will raise awareness about how the polar regions have been impacted by climate change over the past century.
"The irony is that Shackleton tried to save his men from Antarctica," he said. "We are now trying to save Antarctica from man."
In the original journey, Shackleton´s party approached South Georgia Island after 15 days at sea, but was unable to land on the island because of hurricane force winds. The crew would later learn that the same storm has sunk a 500-ton steamer bound for South Georgia from Buenos Aires.