As winter’s chill begins to sink in and I start complaining about how cold it is outside, I can’t help but think about Antarctica. Antarctica is the coldest, driest, windiest, most freezing-est land mass on planet Earth, but for some reason intrepid folks keep going down there. One of the worst attempted Antarctic trips took place over 100 years ago, led by an adventurous Brit named Sir Ernest Shackleton.
In 1915, Shackleton embarked on what would become one of the more disastrous exploratory expeditions in recorded history. His plan, to cross Antarctica from sea to sea by way of the southernmost point on planet Earth (the South Pole)…an 1,800 mile trek through a freezing wasteland. His ship the Endurance departed December 5, 1914, from a small island in the South Atlantic Ocean and almost immediately encountered ice that slowed the journey to a snail’s pace until eventually the ship became trapped, immovable, frozen in an ice floe. After nearly 9 months, stranded on an unmoving ship, the hull cracked and water began to enter the boat. Shackleton and his crew fled the boat and made camp on a large, flat ice floe, which they hoped would over time drift the 250 miles toward an island known to hold provisions. When, after several months, the floe hit against an impassable wall of ice, Shackleton took desperate measures and ordered his crew to board a series of small open air lifeboats that took them across 720 miles of treacherous ocean to eventual rescue. Shackleton’s crew of 28 men (all of whom survived, in case you were worried) spent nearly 2 years on this voyage, most of it spent freezing in makeshift camps, and in the end they never even made it to Antarctica!
So next time you start to feel a chill, check out one of these books from the library and find out more!
Frozen Secrets: Antarctica Revealed by Sally Walker
Byrd and Igloo: A Polar Adventure by Samantha Seiple
Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey by Nick Bertozzi
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance by Jennifer Armstrong
Trial by Ice: A Photobiography of Sir Ernest Shackleton by K.M. Kostyal
Or, you can take a look at the South Pole for your self through the United States Antarctic Project webcams.
About the Author
Rachel Helm is an artist, reader, and home repair enthusiast. She has traveled extensively on Nevada State Route 375 "the Extraterrestrial Highway", but can currently be found hard at work in the Central Library Youth Services department.