Saturday, September 14, 2013

Shackleton & Scott & Morningstar

Shackleton & Scott & Morningstar

And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wondrous cold;
And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
As green as emerald.

        —The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge

We all met on the research vessel, the grandsons of Shackleton and Scott, the Russian and I. It was beyond my wildest dreams to meet the descendants of those first Antarctica explorers who had opened the eyes of the world upon the deep white of the Southern Hemisphere.

A little about Shackleton

Shackleton, whose full name is Sir Ernest Shackleton, 15 February 1874 – 5 January 1922, was a polar explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic and was knighted by his king, King Edward VII. His voyage of discovery in 1914 to the Antarctic on the ship “Endurance” became trapped in sea ice just one day before they would arrive on the continent, known to many as the SEVENTH continent! Frozen there in place for ten full months, the ship was finally crushed, broken, and destroyed. The crew was forced to abandon the ship and camp on the ice for five months! Shackleton, shivering with grief and fear geared up his courage and forged ahead, against all odds. The result was two open boat journeys, one a treacherous eight hundred mile sea crossing to the island of South Georgia which is now considered to be the greatest boat journey of any man in history. As he trekked across the arduous mountains of South Georgia, he shuddered to think of how is men fared back on the ice. This fear gave him the impetus to push on and on through the difficult terrain. At last, he reached the South Georgia whaling station, organized a rescue team and saved all the men he had left behind. He was not only a knight, he was a hero. But that wasn’t quite enough. In 1921 he returned to Antarctica intent on conducting scientific research and surveys. Before this work could begin, Shackleton died of a heart attack as his ship was moored in South Georgia, the place he was laid to rest.

Shackleton Timeline & More

A little about Scott
While in Antarctica, I (Morningstar) had the pleasure of meeting the grandson of Robert Falcon Scott. He’d been named after his grandfather as Falcon. Falcon was as gracious a man as one would like to meet.

At dinner, when I explained that I had missed his lecture due to sea sickness, he offered to show me his slideshow presentation in his quarters. While he told me the fantastic story of his grandfather, Shackleton’s grandson came by for a visit. The experience was rather otherworldly, there sailing through the rough waters of
Antarctica with the grandsons of the two most famous Antarctica explorers of all time. I chill now as I think of the treasure I now enjoy to have met and fraternize with the relatives of those with such historical significance. 

2013 Antarctica Expedition with Shackleton & Scott!

Robert Falcon Scott, was born June 6th, 1868 and died in Antarctica March 29th, 1912. He was an officer of the Royal Navy and led two expeditions to Antarctica, the Discovery 1901-1904, and the ill fated Terra Nova Expedition 1910-1913. During his second adventure, Scott led a party of five and reached the SOUTH POLE on January 17, 1912, only to discover that they had been preceded by Roald Amundsen’s Norweigian Expedition. Disappointment cannot be overstated. And then, on their return journey, Scott and his team ran into real trouble. To understand the details, the following excerpt from his diary will give you a real sense of what it was like to struggle through the wilds of icy Antarctica.

From Scott’s Last Diary

Visit COOL Antarctica to read the complete history

February 16th - "Evans has nearly broken down in brain, we think". The next day he started reasonably well but soon left his sledge traces to walk alongside. He fell further and further back and was soon out of sight. By lunchtime the others went back to find him. He was on his knees, clothing disarranged, hands uncovered and frostbitten and with a "wild look in his eyes". He was placed onto a sledge and taken to the camp they had set up, he was comatose by the time he was placed in the tent. He died quietly at
12.30 a.m
The weather continued to be against them, particularly intense cold down to -40°C and the surface bad beyond their worst fears.On March 5th Scott records "Oates' feet are in a wretched condition... The poor soldier is very nearly done." Despite the cold and awful surfaces Oates kept going attended to by Wilson the doctor, but on March the 16th he proposed that his companions leave him in his sleeping bag and continue themselves. A request they could not grant and induced him to join the afternoon march when they made a few extra miles. He was worse that night and went to sleep hoping not to wake, he did wake however to find a blizzard blowing. His last words were "I am just going outside and may be some time." He walked out to his death so that he would no longer be a burden to his friends who themselves were in worsening physical condition. His feet had been so bad and the process of putting his boots on so painful that he didn't go through this torture and walked out to his death in his socks.

 "We knew that poor Oates was walking to his death, but though we tried to dissuade him, we knew it was the act of a brave man and an English gentleman. We all hope to meet the end with a similar spirit and assuredly the end is not far."

The last camp was made on March 19th only 11 miles from the next depot. They woke on the 20th to another raging blizzard. Scott was suffering badly from a frostbitten foot and Wilson and Bowers were to go to the depot for fuel. By the 22nd they still had not been able to set off, the blizzard was as bad as ever. They never left this final camp having run out of food and fuel, eventually being too weak, cold and hungry to attempt the march. On the 29th of March 1912 Scott made his last diary entry;

"Since the 21st we have had a continuous gale from W.S.W. and S.W. We had fuel to make two cups of tea apiece and bare food for two days on the 20th. Every day we have been ready to start for our depot 11 miles away, but outside the door of the tent it remains a scene of whirling drift. I do not think we can hope for better things now. We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker of course, and the end cannot be far.
It seems a pity but I do not think I can write more."
The tent and the three frozen bodies were not discovered until nearly 8 months later on November 12th that year. A great cairn of ice was raised over their bodies surmounted by a cross made from skis, a sledge was stood on one end in a smaller cairn nearby.
A search was made for Captain Oates' body, but it was never found, only his discarded sleeping bag, cut open for much of the length to enable him to enter it with badly frostbitten feet.

A cairn was placed at the scene of the search with a note that began "Hereabouts died a very gallant gentleman...."
Later at hut point a cross was erected to the memory of :
Lieutenant H. R. Bowers
Petty officer Edgar "Taff" Evans
Captain L. E. G. Oates
Captain R. F. Scott
Dr. E. A. Wilson


Explore Antarctic Islands

Journey to places unchanged in the decades since the Endurance sailed. Through QuickTime VRs, explore South Georgia Island as well as an ice floe in the Weddell Sea.   VISIT ANTARCTICA ISLANDS


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