Shackleton Epic Update: Landfall!

The crew of Alexandra Shackleton onshore at South Georgia cheer their successful completion of leg 1 of their historic re enactment. Image Jo Stewart Shackleton Epic

A few weeks back I wrote a post about the Shackleton Epic expedition, a daring attempt to recreate Ernest Shackleton’s open-sea crossing between Elephant Island and South Georgia, followed by a traverse of that island on foot. At the time of the original story, the crew – led by Australian explorer Tim Jarvis – was just about to embark on the first stage of their voyage which was an 800-mile journey through some of the coldest and most treacherous waters on the planet. Yesterday the crew finished up that leg of the expedition, arriving on South Georgia at last.

The team made landfall Sunday afternoon, arriving 12 days after they had set out from Elephant Island. Their travels were not easy however as they were routinely pelted with bad weather, stayed soaked for much of the trip and faced regular bouts of sea sickness while out on the open water. Even their last push to South Georgia was challenging, with foam-capped swells and hidden rocks all conspiring to put an end to their plans. Fortunately they survived all of those challenges and arrived at Peggotty Bluff in one piece, just as Shackleton and his men did in 1916. Check out the video of their arrival below.

For some of the crew, reaching the beach at South Georgia marks the end of the adventure, but for three of the men there are still challenges to be overcome. Jarvis, along with Barry Gray and Ed Wardle will now attempt to trek across the island through rugged and mostly uncharted terrain. This was the second leg of Shackleton’s journey as well, as he went in search of help for his stranded men.

Cold rain, snow, hail and high winds have descended upon their position however, delaying the start of the trek. Once conditions improve, they’ll hit the trail for what will be a roughly 32 mile (51 km) hike through very mountainous and unforgiving terrain and they’ll do so wearing vintage gear that is not unlike that which was used in Shackleton’s era.

Congratulations on the team for completing the 800 mile open-water crossing. That was an impressive bit of navigation using just the stars, a compass and a sextant. Good luck to Tim, Barry and Ed as they embark on the next phase of the adventure.

Kraig Becker

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