A group of British and Australian adventurers re-enacted Irish born Ernest Shackleton’s adventure to rescue his crew after their ship sunk in Antarctic waters almost a century ago. Fighting against harsh wintry elements, Shackleton was able to save all of his crew members. 

Following Shackleton’s route in 1916, Tim Jarvis and Barry “Baz” Gray traveled from Elephant Island to an old whaling station on the remote island of South Georgia over 19 days.

They made the 800 nautical mile journey across the Southern Ocean in a small sailboat. The Irish Times reported that project manager Kim McKay said about the boat, “The boat was only 22-and-a-half feet long. At any one time, only four men could be below deck, while the other two had to be on deck. They had eight-metre (26 ft) waves crashing on the boat. It was like they were playing a game of Twister. If one moved, they all had to move. They were constantly wet and cold and they all arrived with varying degrees of trench foot.” 

Jarvis suffered some frostbite on his right foot and three of the men were not able to complete the later climb because of trench foot. 

Once on South Georgia, Jarvis and Gray traveled with the four other members of their team over the crevasse-filled mountains. After reaching the station, Jarvis told McKay, “It was epic, really epic, and we’ve arrived here against the odds.” He added, “we had more than 20 crevasse falls up to our knees and Baz fell into a crevasse up to his armpits.”

They re-enacted original conditions to the best of their ability. The six member team used similar clothes and equipment to Shackleton’s crew. Shackleton completed the climb without a tent, which they had intended to replicate. However, a blizzard hit and they stayed in tents and modern day sleeping bags. They also ate salami instead of penguins and seals, which Shackleton’s crew ate in order to survive. 

Shackleton’s 28 member crew had survived in Antarctica for more than a year when Shackleton started the last two legs of his journey to Antarctica. The crew’s ship, Endurance had been trapped and crushed by the ice and 22 of the crew members later sailed in lifeboats to Elephant Island, where they waited for help. Once Shackleton had reached the whaling station, he raised the alarm and all of the crew members were saved. Jarvis told McKay about these men, “These early explorers were iron men in wooden boats,” saying he hoped “we’ve been able to emulate some of what they achieved.”  

Shackleton was born in Co Kildare, Ireland in 1874 and was educated in England after his family moved. He joined the navy at the age of 16 and made his first Antarctic expedition during the 1901 exploration led by Robert Francis Scott. Shackleton is best known for his third expedition to Antarctica, during which the Endurance was trapped and sank. Shackleton published his account of the expedition titled “South.” He attempted a fourth expedition, but he died of a heart attack off South Georgia and was buried on the island.

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