When Your Life Depends on It: Extreme Decision Making Lessons from the Antarctic

When Your Life Depends on It:
Extreme Decision Making Lessons from the Antarctic.

By Brad Borkan and David Hirzel


To those of us that engross ourselves in the captivating histories of the expeditions of Antarctic exploration, it is all very matter of fact. We know the ships, the men, the tragedies, the triumphs, the many tales of heroism and the prerequisite hardships. Shackleton came agonisingly close in 1907, but Amundsen won the ‘race’, beating Scott to the South Pole, in December 1911. Scott had never subscribed to the race nonsense, but nonetheless arrived in second place, on January 17th 1912. “Great God this is an awful place”, he opined. It truly was. And the awfulness of the most hostile continent on the planet, had yet to truly bare it’s teeth.

Amundsen had quite effectively used dog teams to bridge the distance, whereas Scott had opted for the more cumbersome components of ponies and man hauling. Amundsen and his team, returned to their base camp, 10 days ahead of schedule, whilst Scott’s party never made it back, dying in wretched circumstances, on the Ross Ice Shelf.

Before the remnants of Scott’s expedition had even left the continent aboard the Terra Nova, in January 1913, Douglas Mawson’s, Australasian Antarctic Expedition, was writing the next grisly chapter in Antarctic exploration. Mawson had turned down the opportunity to join Scott, instead deciding to explore King George V Land and Adelie Land. What ensued for Mawson, Ninnis and Mertz, was a tale of tragedy, madness, death and survival.

Then came Shackleton again, in 1914. The Endurance Expedition, was exactly what it said on the boat. Ignored advice, trapped in the ice, life on the ice, escape from the ice, cold, hunger, sickness, isolation, deprivation, amputation, determination, formulation, one last voyage, one lifeboat, six men, eight hundred miles of Weddell Sea, South Georgia reached, a mountainous range for three to traverse, salvation at last on reaching Stromness, and eventual rescue, after months of attempts.

Brad Borkan and David Hirzel, in their book, When Your Life Depends On It, challenge you to look at these remarkable events, from a different perspective. They place us, the readers, into these life and death situations, encouraging us to assess how we might have responded. They explore the teamwork, leadership, camaraderie, sheer grit and determination, and explain the methods and lessons that can be garnered from them, and put to use in our modern world.  Continue Reading →

The Tom Crean 312 Cycle – From Naas to Annascaul

The Tom Crean 312 Cycle.

312 KM From Naas to Annascaul.


“Next Saturday 24th June, a group of eight of us from Naas Cycling Club are undertaking an epic one day cycle in honour of Tom Crean. We leave Naas at 5 a.m. and cycle to Athy to visit Shackleton’s Statue and then head for Annascaul, via Limerick to hopefully arrive at Tom’s statue at 7pm. We will then retire to the South Pole Inn for recovery. The total distance is 312km or about 12 hours cycling time.”
Peter Grady
For the second year running,  eight members of Naas Cycling Club, will cycle an epic distance of 312 kilometres, in honour of Tom Crean. This year they have decided to use their endeavours as a means to raise funds for the Friends of Naas Hospital.
Leaving Naas, Co. Kildare, at 5 am, on Saturday the 24th June, the route will see the brave group firstly arrive in Athy, for a quick stop at the Shackleton Statue, outside the Heritage Centre & Museum. From here they continue onwards through Stradbally, Portlaoise, Roscrea, Nenagh, Limerick, Adare, Newcastle West, Abbeyfeale, Castleisland, Farranfore, Castlemaine and finally Annascaul, in beautiful Co. Kerry. The journey will end upon arrival at the statue of Tom Crean, that stands in the village.

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