We remember, when a new anniversary is about to be celebrated, the Shackleton expedition
In 1914 there was no GPS, no internet, no satellite phones. Nor did anyone talk about team leadership, resilience or interpersonal communication. In 1914 there were sextants, compasses and maps. And in that year Sarajevo is the scene of a murder that changes everything and the world is dictated by the declarations of war: Germans against Russians, English against Germans, Germans against French Austro-Hungarians against Russians.
In this world lived Ernest Shackleton, an Irishman who, in that year, was the age of forty. With half of Europe throwing blood, hunger and the worst hardships, Ernest set out to escape to the furthest place in that chaotic world. He decided to cross the unknown continent, Antarctica. It was an adventure only suitable for the bravest. And Shackleton, that, had proven it many times. In 1901 he had been the third officer of the British Antarctic Expedition, commanded by Captain Robert Scott. They managed to reach a point on the Antarctic plateau located 857 kilometers from the south pole. The feat was achieved without having the slightest polar experience and completely ignoring the handling of dogs and sleds.
Shackleton only made him want to return to that inhospitable space in the world. His obsession was to get even closer to the point where all the meridians meet, the most unknown land place on Earth. In 1907 he led the British Imperial Antarctic Expedition aboard the Nimrod. They arrived at Ross Island from where they got the first ascent of the Erebus volcano, and achieved valuable information: the position of the magnetic South Pole. They reached 88º 23’s, on a strenuous route that left them only 180 kilometers from the South Pole. The goal would have been to reach 90º. He did not want to risk more. Shackleton knew there would be more opportunities. It was the second time he stepped on that land at almost 3,000 meters above sea level where the sun barely reaches and when he does, he rests alone on the horizon line. A place that is most likely not to come back to tell. But Shackleton knew he was coming back. Precisely that thought was what caused his decision to leave.
The third time was the charm. He endeavored to prepare a new expedition but with a different objective than just reaching the south pole. Simply because a Norwegian was ahead of the Irish. On December 14, 1911 Amundsen managed to step on the long-awaited South Pole, the 90th yearned for by Shakleton. That did not discourage him in the least. Shackleton knew that all he had to do was set another challenge. At that time he decided to set course for the great feat: cross from coast to coast Antarctica, passing through the south pole, as if that had never been his goal. Now I had to make a glacier trip of about 3,000 kilometers. Many books and many texts have been written about Shackleton’s journey. For many years, when all I had to do was get the challenge, Ernest’s feat was not valued. But time has stopped focusing Shackleton’s adventure on a mere goal, history has realized that Ernest was resilience in person, was the best leader a team can have and was an example of interpersonal communication. In 1914, since these terms did not exist, the adventurer was considered a man who tried but never succeeded. Point.
In Just the sea we join the tribute to Shackelton, the hundreds, thousands of adventurers who make humans, life, the planet a good place to be. Of all the books about the adventurer we stay with Shackleton’s Journey, perhaps one of the most beautiful illustrated albums. A family book that covers the main moments of the adventure. A work about travel, sea, adventure, challenges and great people.
So what happened
What happened in that adventure started in 1914 was that you had to face Antarctica, a white desert. Face a trip in a part of the world where you get to register the -89 C. The south pole is the central point of this continent. In extension, it is twice Oceania and over 98 percent of its surface is covered by ice with an average thickness of almost two kilometers. According to a 2016 census, there are 135 residents at present.
That hostile and isolated territory was Shackleton’s fascination. And he had to achieve his new challenge in Endurance, the ship that never returned to its port. With 28 men on board, the ship was trapped on the bench and ended up crushed by the pressure of the ice on November 21, 1914. Shackleton did not think the worst. Despite the extreme conditions, unimaginable deprivations, The goal now was to get that group of men back home. The expedition lasted two years. When they were already considered dead, the group returned completely.
At the time, Shakleton’s istoria was overshadowed by Scott’s feat, until at the end of the 20th century, he was “rediscovered” and would soon become a cult figure and a leadership model to follow as someone who, in circumstances extreme, he kept his team together in a survival story described by historian Stephanie Barczewski as “incredible.”