Sir Ernest Shackleton, Elephant Island and the walk across South Georgia to Stromness

Travelling through the Weddell Sea, the Antarctic Peninsula and around Elephant Island, and finally the beautiful island of South Georgia, one cannot help to be impressed by the story of the explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. Leaving England just before the start of the First World War in 1914, Shackleton's ambition was to be the first to cross the Antarctic from the Weddell Sea (near South America) to the Ross Sea (near New Zealand) via the South Pole. It was not so much his journey which is famous, but his return against all odds with his 28 man crew. His ship, the Endurance became stuck in the sea ice, eventually being crushed and sinking. Shackleton and his crew hauled three lifeboats across the sea ice, reaching Elephant Island near the Antarctic Peninsula. Leaving most of his expedition team on Elephant Island under Frank Wild, he and five crew set out in the lifeboat "James Caird" to sail the 870 miles across the Southern Ocean, the roughest seas in the world, to the island of South Georgia. Arriving on the south shore of South Georgia, Shackleton still had to cross a range of snow-capped mountains and glaciers to reach the whaling station at Stromness on the north side of the island. Shackleton, Worsley and Crean took 36 hours to cross the island. Afterwards, they said they each felt that there was another person with them and "that we were four, not three" (from the book "South" by Sir Ernest Shackleton). As part of the trip with Polar Star, we were lucky enough to walk the final part of Shackleton's journey from Fortuna Bay to Stromness. It was a lovely sunny day with no snow to contend with, but steep hills and difficult terrain. The day before we spent the afternoon at Grytviken, visiting the museum, and the old whaling station. Here we toasted "The Boss" drinking a glass of wine at his grave in the whalers' cemetery. The map here gives an idea of Shackleton's route.

Elephant Island Fortuna Bay Stromness

Antarctica

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