British-Australian team successfully recreates Shackleton's journey

British and Australian explorers complete their perilous trek to remote whaling station

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 February, 2013, 5:24am


A team of exhausted but elated explorers have successfully recreated Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic journey - navigating treacherous seas for 800 nautical miles in a lifeboat before completing a three-day climb across mountains, despite a blizzard.

Expedition leader Tim Jarvis and Barry Gray reached the old whaling station at Stromness early on Sunday after a 900-metre climb over the mountainous interior of South Georgia.

"It was epic … and we've arrived here against the odds," said Jarvis, who with Gray completed the climb using the same kind of clothing and gear that Shackleton and his men would have worn in 1916. "The ice climb at the Tridents is a serious thing and Shackleton didn't exaggerate - with ice at 50 degrees, with one wrong foot, we could have careened down a crevasse."

Jarvis, 46, said he and Gray, 38, had more than 20 crevasse falls up to their knees, with the latter plunging into one up to his armpits. "These early explorers were iron men in wooden boats, and … I hope we've been able to emulate some of what they achieved," he said. "There's no doubt in my mind that everyone has a Shackleton double in them, and I hope we've inspired a few people to find theirs."

There's no doubt in my mind that everyone has a Shackleton double in them, and I hope we've inspired a few people to find theirs

The crossing follows a 12-day re-enactment of Shackleton's journey in a lifeboat from Elephant Island to South Georgia, along with four other members of the British-Australian team.

Jarvis and Gray had planned to make the mountain crossing within 24 hours, but were held up by a storm. They were forced to hunker down on the mountain, resorting to using a modern tent and sleeping bags to stay alive as snow, sleet and 50-knot winds pounded them on Saturday.

"We've had to adapt, just as Shackleton and his men did, and we had to survive," said Jarvis.

Shackleton's journey to raise the alarm about the sinking of his ship the Endurance is considered one of the greatest survival feats. His boat became trapped in 1915 and sank 10 months later as it was crushed by advancing ice. After living on the floating ice until April 1916, his team set off in three small boats for Elephant Island.

From there, Shackleton and five crew made the voyage to South Georgia, reaching their destination 16 days later to face the trek to Stromness.

All members of the Endurance were eventually rescued.