Shackleton Orders the Shooting of Chinaman – The Nimrod Expedition.

On This Day – November 21st 1908.

The first of Shackleton’s ponies, is killed.

On November 3rd 1908, Ernest Shackleton, Eric Marshall, Jameson Adams and Frank Wild, left Hut Point. Their destination, as Shackleton had put it, was “the last spot in the world that counts as worth striving for” – the South Pole.
It was not Shackleton’s first attempt at reaching the pole, as he had joined Robert Falcon Scott and Edward Wilson, on the Discovery Expedition’s southern journey in 1902. The aim of that endeavour was “to get as far south in a straight line on the Barrier ice as we can, reach the Pole if possible, or find some new land.” Hardly a battle cry of inspiration, or intention. In truth the venture was a pioneering journey, deeper into the unexplored realms of Antarctica, than anyone had ever dared before.
Scott and the two men were supported by teams of sled dogs, which over the course of their travels struggled with the extreme conditions, and did not perform as expected, or indeed hoped. Continue Reading →

Antarctic Huts – Frozen Time Capsules of the Heroic Age.

Antarctic Huts.

Scott’s Discovery Hut – Hut Point Antarctica.

Discovery Hut was built by Robert Falcon Scott during the Discovery Expedition of 1901–1904 in 1902 and is located at Hut Point on Ross Island by McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Visitors to Antarctica, arriving at either the US Base at McMurdo or New Zealand’s Scott Base are likely to encounter Discovery Hut as both are located on Hut Point. Discovery Hut is just 300m from McMurdo Base. The hut has been designated a Historic Site or Monument (HSM 18), following a proposal by New Zealand and the United Kingdom to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Some confusion arises because Discovery Hut can correctly be referred to as Scott’s Hut, in that his expedition built it, and it was his base ‘ashore’ during the 1901–1904 expedition. But the title ‘Scott’s Hut’ correctly belongs to the building erected in 1911 at Cape Evans. WikipediaContinue Reading →

On This Day – January 9th 1909

Shackleton Reaches New Furthest South Record

Nimrod Expedition 1907-1909

Beardmore Glacier - Antarctica

The Beardmore Glacier, discovered by Shackleton’s southern party on 3 December 1908

On January 9th 1909, Ernest Shackleton, Frank Wild, Jameson Adams and Eric Marshall reached a new furthest South record of 88° 23′ S, far surpassing the previous record of 82° 17’S, achieved by Scott, in December 1902. Shackleton along with Edward Wilson had accompanied Scott on that occasion, and it was a laborious effort. After their support teams had turned back, on November 15, the three men began the gruelling task of relaying their loads. They dragged half their provisions forward for a distance of one mile, and then walked back to their remaining supplies, and hauled them forward again. It equated to the rather sombre fact that for every geographical mile they had covered, they had walked a distance of three miles.
This was not a method of advancement that would acquire the South Pole, and one has to question whether it was ever really a serious attempt to do so. Probably not. Wilson had noted in his diary that their goal was “to get as far south in a straight line on the Barrier ice as we can, reach the Pole if possible, or find some new land”.
Shackleton had of course fully intended reaching the South Pole, on the Nimrod Expedition, and almost did, but after the difficult ascent of the Beardmore Glacier, which they had discovered, and named after their chief sponsor, they had laboured across the Polar Plateau, and slowly realised that reaching the Pole was beyond them.
Rations were fast running out, and there simply would not be enough food to sustain the men, over the distance required to reach the Pole, and the subsequent return march. On the 4th of January, Shackleton finally conceded defeat, and opted instead to target the consolation of getting to within 100 miles of the South Pole.
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On This Day – January 5th 1922

Sir Ernest Shackleton dies at South Georgia

Shackleton-Rowett Expedition

The expedition ship the Quest arrived in South Georgia on January 4th 1922. Sir Ernest Shackleton was sailing South again. This expedition which had been financed by Shackleton’s friend, John Quiller Rowett, intended circumnavigating Antarctica.
Tom Crean who was now married, had politely refused Shackleton’s request to join him on the expedition, stating that he now had ‘a long haired pal’ to look after.
Two of the crew on board when the Quest left Plymouth were Boy Scouts, James Slessor Marr and Norman Mooney, who had come through a rigorous competition, before being selected by Shackleton, for the honour of travelling with him to Antarctica. Shackleton was an admirer of the Boy Scout movement, and had arranged the competition with Baden Powell.
After encountering rough seas in the Bay of Biscay, the Quest had to detour to Lisbon for repairs, and the seriously seasick Scout, Norman Mooney left the expedition. James Slessor Marr would continue the voyage, and aided by Shackleton, he began a journal of his travels aboard the Quest, which would later be published as Into The Frozen South, by Scout Marr.

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On This Day – February 28th 1909

Shackleton & Wild Reach Hut Point

Nimrod Expedition 1907-1909

Shackleton Nimrod Expedition

Shackleton Nimrod Expedition

Ernest Shackleton, Frank Wild, Jameson Adams and Eric Marshall reached a new furthest South record of 88° 23′ S, on January 9th 1909, when they surpassed the previous record of 82° 17′ S, reached by Robert Scott, in December 1902. Shackleton who had accompanied Scott and Wilson on that occasion, had hoped to attain the South Pole under his own command, on the Nimrod Expedition, but after the difficult ascent of the Beardmore Glacier, which they had discovered, and named in honour of their chief sponsor, they had laboured in their efforts to traverse the Polar Plateau, and slowly realised that reaching the Pole was beyond them.
Shackleton calculated that there simply would not be enough food to sustain the men, over the distance required to reach the Pole, and the subsequent return march. On the 4th of January, Shackleton finally conceded defeat, and opted instead to target the consolation of getting to within 100 miles of the South Pole.

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On This Day – 1st January 1908 – Nimrod

The Nimrod departs for Antarctica

On the first of January 1908, the Nimrod under the command of Ernest Shackleton set sail from the port of Lyttelton, New Zealand. In an effort to save fuel Shackleton had arranged to have the Nimrod towed until they reached the waters of the Antarctic circle. Despite having scientific and geographical objectives, the main aim of the venture was that of being first to reach the South Pole.
Given that Shackleton had always considered his physical demise on the return march of Scott’s ‘Furthest South’ record on the Discovery expedition, as a source of personal embarrasment, the Nimrod campaign was always going to be his opportunity to set the record straight.

Frictions had arisen prior to the Nimrod’s departure from England on 11 August 1907, between Shackleton and Scott, over Shackleton’s intention to use Scott’s former base, which had been established on the Discovery expedition, at McMurdo Sound.

Eventually Shackleton would alleviate the argument by promising not to infringe upon territories, that his former Commander Scott, conceitedly claimed were his exclusive dominion. Scott  stated that “anyone who has had to do with exploration will regard this region primarily as mine”, and he demanded an exclusion zone which started at 170 º W and, everything to the west of that line, including Ross Island, McMurdo Sound, and Victoria Land, would be Scott’s. Continue Reading →