Over the past few weeks I’ve written about the Shackleton Epic a couple of times, sharing news of the expedition’s progress as the men attempted to follow in the footsteps of history. When last we checked in, the crew had completed the open-ocean crossing between Elephant Island and South Georgia and were waiting for the weather to change so they could begin the final stage of the journey – a trek across the mountainous and largely unexplored island – just as Ernest Shackleton had done nearly a century ago.
In that last update, we were told that weather had stalled out the planned trek and the three men who would be making that journey, team leader Tim Jarvis, Baz Gray and Paul Larsen were waiting for conditions to improve. That didn’t happen until the evening of February 8, which is when they set out to complete the final leg, something that Shackleton and his men did in just 36 hours. Unfortunately, the crew of the Shackleton Epic weren’t out in the wild for very long before the fickle weather took a turn for the worse.
On February 9, while crossing through Shackleton’s Gap on South Georgia Island, winds began to pick up and rain and snow moved into the region. The weather was so bad at one point that they could barely make any progress at all and the winds were so strong they could knock the men over. They decided to take shelter in a tent and wait for it to pass, but they ended up losing another day of travel in the process.
The following day they struck out again, even though the weather hadn’t improved all that substantially. Progress was still slow but they managed to press forward. They wouldn’t reach the finish line at Stromness until late in the evening on February 11, but they did complete the expedition at last. Exhausted, hungry, wet and chilled to the bone, they men celebrated their accomplishment on a beach along the north side of South Georgia. They had become the only team to ever follow Shackleton’s amazing odyssey while also wearing the vintage gear that was used on that expedition.
You can read a full account of the journey on the Shackleton Epic Blog, where you’ll find a lot more details of what went down. Now, with the mission accomplished, the entire crew is heading back across the Drake Passage for South America and eventually home. It’ll be a few days before they arrive in port, most of which I’m sure they’ll spend sleeping, recovering and eating.
Congratulations to everyone who took part in this fantastic adventure.