1914 – 1917
After being beaten to the South Pole by both Roald Amundsen and Captain Scott, Ernest Shackleton set his sights on being the first to cross the Antarctic continent. This journey would become the last great voyage of the Heroic age of Antarctic Exploration.
"Enough life and money has been spent on this sterile quest. The Pole has already been discovered. What is the use of another expedition?"
Shackleton and his crew of 27 men set sail in August 1914, just before the outbreak of the First World War. The Endurance travelled to Antarctica via the little explored Weddell Sea, used mostly by whaling companies. Their last stop before Antarctica was a small whaling station on the island of South Georgia. Shackleton and his crew waited here for icy conditions in the Weddell Sea to improve. On 5th December 1914 the Endurance left South Georgia, and headed for Antarctica.
Three days in they encountered pack ice, the ship had to be carefully maneuvered through. After six weeks and having travelled a great distance of ice, they were 100 miles from Antarctica. The conditions grew worse, and the ship was struggling to push through the ice. One morning the crew awoke to find ice had closed around the ship, trapping them. They had no choice but to wait for it to melt. On the 14th February 1915 they spotted open water. To reach it the men attempted to break up the ice around the ship by hand. For 48 hours the men worked breaking-up the ice, attempting to free the ship. But the ice was too thick, there was no way out. They had no choice but to wait until the next spring, seven months away, for the ice to melt enough to free the ship. Nobody in the world knew their location, even though they were only one day from the Antarctic continent.