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Nimrod Expedition

Nimrod Expedition

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Encyclopedia
The British Antarctic Expedition 1907–09, otherwise known as the Nimrod Expedition, was the first of three expeditions to the Antarctic
Antarctic
The Antarctic is the region around the Earth's South Pole, opposite the Arctic region around the North Pole. The Antarctic comprises the continent of Antarctica and the ice shelves, waters and island territories in the Southern Ocean situated south of the Antarctic Convergence...

 led by Ernest Shackleton
Ernest Shackleton
Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, CVO, OBE was a notable explorer from County Kildare, Ireland, who was one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration...

. Its main target, among a range of geographical and scientific objectives, was to be first to the South Pole
South Pole
The South Pole, also known as the Geographic South Pole or Terrestrial South Pole, is one of the two points where the Earth's axis of rotation intersects its surface. It is the southernmost point on the surface of the Earth and lies on the opposite side of the Earth from the North Pole...

. This was not attained, but the expedition’s southern march reached a farthest south
Farthest South
Farthest South was the term used to denote the most southerly latitudes reached by explorers before the conquest of the South Pole in 1911. Significant steps on the road to the pole were the discovery of lands south of Cape Horn in 1619, Captain James Cook's crossing of the Antarctic Circle in...

 latitude of 88° 23′ S, just 97.5 nmi (180.6 km; 112.2 mi) from the pole. This was by far the longest southern polar journey to that date and a record convergence on either Pole. A separate group led by Welsh Australian geology
Geology
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

 professor Edgeworth David
Edgeworth David
Sir Tannatt William Edgeworth David KBE, DSO, FRS, was a Welsh Australian geologist and Antarctic explorer. A household name in his lifetime, David's most significant achievements were discovering the major Hunter Valley coalfield in New South Wales and leading the first expedition to reach the...

 reached the estimated location of the South Magnetic Pole
South Magnetic Pole
The Earth's South Magnetic Pole is the wandering point on the Earth's surface where the geomagnetic field lines are directed vertically upwards...

, and the expedition also achieved the first ascent of Mount Erebus
Mount Erebus
Mount Erebus in Antarctica is the southernmost historically active volcano on Earth, the second highest volcano in Antarctica , and the 6th highest ultra mountain on an island. With a summit elevation of , it is located on Ross Island, which is also home to three inactive volcanoes, notably Mount...

, Antarctica's second highest volcano.

The expedition lacked governmental or institutional support, and relied on private loans and individual contributions. It was beset by financial problems and its preparations were hurried. Its ship, Nimrod, was less than half of the size of Robert Falcon Scott
Robert Falcon Scott
Captain Robert Falcon Scott, CVO was a Royal Navy officer and explorer who led two expeditions to the Antarctic regions: the Discovery Expedition, 1901–04, and the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition, 1910–13...

's 1901–04 expedition ship Discovery
RRS Discovery
The RRS Discovery was the last traditional wooden three-masted ship to be built in Britain. Designed for Antarctic research, she was launched in 1901. Her first mission was the British National Antarctic Expedition, carrying Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton on their first, successful...

, and Shackleton's crew lacked relevant experience. Controversy arose from Shackleton's decision to base the expedition in McMurdo Sound
McMurdo Sound
The ice-clogged waters of Antarctica's McMurdo Sound extend about 55 km long and wide. The sound opens into the Ross Sea to the north. The Royal Society Range rises from sea level to 13,205 feet on the western shoreline. The nearby McMurdo Ice Shelf scribes McMurdo Sound's southern boundary...

, close to Scott's old headquarters, in contravention of a promise to Scott that he would not do so. Nevertheless, although the expedition's profile was initially much lower than that of Scott’s six years earlier, its achievements attracted nationwide interest and made a public hero out of Shackleton. The scientific team, which included the future Australasian Antarctic Expedition
Australasian Antarctic Expedition
The Australasian Antarctic Expedition was an Australasian scientific team that explored part of Antarctica between 1911 and 1914. It was led by the Australian geologist Douglas Mawson, who was knighted for his achievements in leading the expedition. In 1910 he began to plan an expedition to chart...

 leader Douglas Mawson
Douglas Mawson
Sir Douglas Mawson, OBE, FRS, FAA was an Australian geologist, Antarctic explorer and Academic. Along with Roald Amundsen, Robert Falcon Scott, and Ernest Shackleton, Mawson was a key expedition leader during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.-Early work:He was appointed geologist to an...

, carried out extensive geological, zoological
Zoology
Zoology |zoölogy]]), is the branch of biology that relates to the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct...

 and meteorological
Meteorology
Meteorology is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere. Studies in the field stretch back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not occur until the 18th century. The 19th century saw breakthroughs occur after observing networks developed across several countries...

 work. Shackleton’s transport arrangements, based on Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

n ponies, motor traction, and sled dogs
Dog sled
A dog sled is a sled pulled by one or more sled dogs used to travel over ice and through snow. Numerous types of sleds are used, depending on their function. They can be used for dog sled racing.-History:...

, were innovations which, despite limited success, were later copied by Scott for his ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition
Terra Nova Expedition
The Terra Nova Expedition , officially the British Antarctic Expedition 1910, was led by Robert Falcon Scott with the objective of being the first to reach the geographical South Pole. Scott and four companions attained the pole on 17 January 1912, to find that a Norwegian team led by Roald...

.

On his return, Shackleton overcame the Royal Geographical Society
Royal Geographical Society
The Royal Geographical Society is a British learned society founded in 1830 for the advancement of geographical sciences...

's initial scepticism about his achievements and received many public honours, including a knighthood from King Edward VII
Edward VII of the United Kingdom
Edward VII was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910...

. He made little financial gain from the expedition and eventually depended on a government grant to cover its liabilities. Within three years his southernmost record had been surpassed, as first Amundsen
Roald Amundsen
Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen was a Norwegian explorer of polar regions. He led the first Antarctic expedition to reach the South Pole between 1910 and 1912 and he was the first person to reach both the North and South Poles. He is also known as the first to traverse the Northwest Passage....

 and then Scott reached the South Pole. In his own moment of triumph, Amundsen nevertheless observed: "Sir Ernest Shackleton's name will always be written in the annals of Antarctic exploration in letters of fire".

Origins


Shackleton had been a junior officer on Scott's first Antarctic expedition in the Discovery. He had been sent home on the relief ship Morning in 1903, after a physical collapse during the expedition's main southern journey. Scott’s verdict was that he "ought not to risk further hardships in his present state of health". Shackleton felt this physical failure as a personal stigma, and on his return to England he was determined to prove himself, in the words of Discovery's second-in command Albert Armitage
Albert Armitage
Albert Borlase Armitage was a Scottish explorer of Antarctica and captain in the Royal Navy.He was first a member of the Jackson-Harmsworth Expedition exploring Franz Josef Land...

, as "a better man than Scott". He nevertheless declined the opportunity of a swift Antarctic return as chief officer of Discovery's second relief ship Terra Nova
Terra Nova (ship)
The Terra Nova was built in 1884 for the Dundee whaling and sealing fleet. She worked for 10 years in the annual seal fishery in the Labrador Sea, proving her worth for many years before she was called upon for expedition work.Terra Nova was ideally suited to the polar regions...

, after helping to fit her out; he also helped to equip Uruguay, the ship being prepared for the relief of Otto Nordenskjold’s expedition, stranded in the Weddell Sea
Weddell Sea
The Weddell Sea is part of the Southern Ocean and contains the Weddell Gyre. Its land boundaries are defined by the bay formed from the coasts of Coats Land and the Antarctic Peninsula. The easternmost point is Cape Norvegia at Princess Martha Coast, Queen Maud Land. To the east of Cape Norvegia is...

. During the next few years, while nursing intermittent hopes of resuming his Antarctic career, he pursued other options, and in 1906 he was working for the industrial magnate
Magnate
Magnate, from the Late Latin magnas, a great man, itself from Latin magnus 'great', designates a noble or other man in a high social position, by birth, wealth or other qualities...

 Sir William Beardmore
William Beardmore, 1st Baron Invernairn
William Beardmore, 1st Baron Invernairn , known as Sir William Beardmore, Bt, between 1914 and 1921, was an Anglo-Scottish industrialist, founding the eponymous William Beardmore and Company.-Background and education:...

 as a public relations
Public relations
Public relations is the actions of a corporation, store, government, individual, etc., in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community, employees, customers, etc....

 officer.

According to biographer Roland Huntford
Roland Huntford
Roland Huntford is an author, principally of biographies of Polar explorers. He lives in Cambridge, and was formerly Scandinavian correspondent of The Observer, also acting as their winter sports correspondent...

, Shackleton's pride had been further wounded by the references to his physical breakdown made in Scott’s The Voyage of the Discovery, published in 1905. It then became his personal mission to return to the Antarctic and outperform Scott. He began looking for potential backers for an expedition of his own; his initial plans appear in an unpublished document dated early 1906. These include a cost estimate of £17,000 (updated value £) for the entire expedition. He received his first promise of financial backing when early in 1907 his employer, Beardmore, offered a £7,000 loan guarantee (updated value £). With this in hand, Shackleton felt confident enough to announce his intentions to the Royal Geographical Society
Royal Geographical Society
The Royal Geographical Society is a British learned society founded in 1830 for the advancement of geographical sciences...

 (RGS) on 12 February 1907. One reason for Shackleton's sense of urgency was the knowledge that the Polish explorer Henryk Arctowski
Henryk Arctowski
Henryk Arctowski was a Polish scientist, oceanographer and Antarctica's explorer.Henryck Arctowski, PhD, was born in Warsaw on 15 July 1871, and educated in Paris, Liege, Zurich and Lemberg. He was in charge of physical observations on the Belgian Antarctic Expedition of 1897–1899...

 was planning an expedition, which was announced at the RGS on the same day as Shackleton's. In the event, Arctowski's plans were stillborn.

Initial plans


Shackleton’s original unpublished plan envisaged basing himself at the old Discovery Expedition
Discovery Expedition
The British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901–04, generally known as the Discovery Expedition, was the first official British exploration of the Antarctic regions since James Clark Ross's voyage sixty years earlier...

 headquarters in McMurdo Sound
McMurdo Sound
The ice-clogged waters of Antarctica's McMurdo Sound extend about 55 km long and wide. The sound opens into the Ross Sea to the north. The Royal Society Range rises from sea level to 13,205 feet on the western shoreline. The nearby McMurdo Ice Shelf scribes McMurdo Sound's southern boundary...

. From there he proposed to launch attempts to reach the geographical South Pole
South Pole
The South Pole, also known as the Geographic South Pole or Terrestrial South Pole, is one of the two points where the Earth's axis of rotation intersects its surface. It is the southernmost point on the surface of the Earth and lies on the opposite side of the Earth from the North Pole...

 and the South Magnetic Pole
South Magnetic Pole
The Earth's South Magnetic Pole is the wandering point on the Earth's surface where the geomagnetic field lines are directed vertically upwards...

. Other journeys would follow, and there would be a continuous programme of scientific work. This early plan also revealed Shackleton’s proposed transport methods, involving a combination of dogs, ponies and a specially designed motor vehicle. Neither ponies nor motor traction had been used in the Antarctic before, though ponies had been used by Frederick Jackson
Frederick George Jackson
Frederick George Jackson , British Arctic explorer, was educated at Denstone College and Edinburgh University.-Biography:...

 during the Jackson-Harmsworth Arctic expedition
Jackson-Harmsworth Expedition
The Jackson-Harmsworth Expedition to Franz Josef Land, 1894–97, was led by British Arctic explorer Frederick George Jackson and financed by newspaper proprietor Alfred Harmsworth. Jackson had been misled by false maps into believing that Franz Joseph Land was a land mass that extended to...

 of 1894–97. Despite Jackson's confused reports of his ponies' prowess, and contrary to specific advice from Nansen
Fridtjof Nansen
Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen was a Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. In his youth a champion skier and ice skater, he led the team that made the first crossing of the Greenland interior in 1888, and won international fame after reaching a...

, Norway's renowned polar traveller, Shackleton was impressed enough to take 15 ponies, later scaled down to 10. By the time he announced his plans to the RGS in February 1907 Shackleton had revised his cost estimate to a more realistic £30,000 (updated value £). However, the response of the RGS to Shackleton's proposals was muted; Shackleton would learn later that the Society was by this time aware of Scott’s wish to lead a new expedition and that the Society wished to reserve its full approval for Scott.

Nimrod


Shackleton intended to arrive in Antarctica in January 1908, which meant leaving England during the 1907 summer. He therefore had six months to secure the financing, acquire and fit out a ship, buy all the equipment and supplies, and recruit the personnel. In April, believing that he had got the backing of Scottish businessman Donald Steuart, Shackleton travelled to Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 intending to buy a 700–ton polar vessel, Bjorn, that would have served ideally as an expedition ship. When Steuart withdrew his support, however, Bjorn was beyond Shackleton's means. Bjorn was eventually acquired by German explorer Wilhelm Filchner
Wilhelm Filchner
Wilhelm Filchner was a German explorer.At the age of 21, he participated in his first expedition, which led him to Russia. Two years later, he travelled alone and on horseback through the Pamir Mountains, from Osh to Murgabh to the upper Wakhan to Tashkurgan and back...

 and, renamed Deutschland, was used in his 1911–13 voyage to the Weddell Sea
Weddell Sea
The Weddell Sea is part of the Southern Ocean and contains the Weddell Gyre. Its land boundaries are defined by the bay formed from the coasts of Coats Land and the Antarctic Peninsula. The easternmost point is Cape Norvegia at Princess Martha Coast, Queen Maud Land. To the east of Cape Norvegia is...

. Shackleton had to settle for the elderly, much smaller Nimrod, a 40-year-old wooden sealer
Seal hunting
Seal hunting, or sealing, is the personal or commercial hunting of seals. The hunt is currently practiced in five countries: Canada, where most of the world's seal hunting takes place, Namibia, the Danish region of Greenland, Norway and Russia...

 of 334 gross register tons, which he was able to acquire for £5,000 (updated value £).

Shackleton was shocked by his first sight of Nimrod after her arrival in London from Newfoundland in June 1907. "She was much dilapidated and smelt strongly of seal oil, and an inspection [...] showed that she needed caulking and that her masts would have to be renewed." However, in the hands of experienced ship-fitters she soon "assumed a more satisfactory appearance". Later, Shackleton reported, he became extremely proud of the sturdy little ship.

Fundraising


By early July 1907, Shackleton had secured little financial support beyond Beardmore’s guarantee and was lacking the funds to complete the refit of the ship. In mid-July he approached the philanthropic
Philanthropy
Philanthropy etymologically means "the love of humanity"—love in the sense of caring for, nourishing, developing, or enhancing; humanity in the sense of "what it is to be human," or "human potential." In modern practical terms, it is "private initiatives for public good, focusing on quality of...

 Earl of Iveagh
Earl of Iveagh
Earl of Iveagh is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1919 for the businessman and philanthropist Edward Guinness, 1st Viscount Iveagh. He was the third son of Sir Benjamin Guinness, 1st Baronet, of Ashford, and the great-grandson of Arthur Guinness, the founder of the...

, otherwise Edward Guinness, head of the Anglo-Irish
Anglo-Irish
Anglo-Irish was a term used primarily in the 19th and early 20th centuries to identify a privileged social class in Ireland, whose members were the descendants and successors of the Protestant Ascendancy, mostly belonging to the Church of Ireland, which was the established church of Ireland until...

 brewing family, who agreed to guarantee the sum of £2,000 (updated value £) provided that Shackleton found other backers to contribute a further £6,000. Shackleton was able to do this, the extra funds including £2,000 from Sir Philip Brocklehurst, who paid this sum to secure a place on the expedition.

A last-minute gift of £4,000 from Shackleton's cousin William Bell still left the expedition far short of the required £30,000, but enabled Nimrods refit to be finished. Fundraising continued in Australia after the ship arrived there; a further £5,000 was provided as a gift from the Government of Australia
Government of Australia
The Commonwealth of Australia is a federal constitutional monarchy under a parliamentary democracy. The Commonwealth of Australia was formed in 1901 as a result of an agreement among six self-governing British colonies, which became the six states...

, and the New Zealand Government gave £1,000. By these means, and with other smaller loans and donations, the £30,000 was raised, although by the end of the expedition total costs had risen, by Shackleton's estimate, to £45,000.

Shackleton expected to make large sums from his book about the expedition and from lectures. He also hoped to profit from sales of special postage stamps bearing the cancellation stamp of the Antarctica post office that Shackleton, appointed temporary postmaster by the New Zealand government, intended to establish there. None of these schemes produced the anticipated riches, although the post office was set up at Cape Royds
Cape Royds
Cape Royds, Antarctica, is a dark rock cape forming the west extremity of Ross Island, facing on McMurdo Sound. Discovered by the Discovery Expedition and named for Lieutenant Charles W.R. Royds, Royal Navy, who acted as meteorologist for the expedition...

 and used as a conduit for the expedition's mail.

Personnel


Shackleton hoped to recruit a strong contingent from the Discovery Expedition and offered his former comrade Edward Wilson
Edward Adrian Wilson
Edward Adrian Wilson was a notable English polar explorer, physician, naturalist, painter and ornithologist.-Early life:...

 the post of chief scientist and second-in-command. Wilson refused, citing his work with the Board of Agriculture
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was a United Kingdom government department created by the Board of Agriculture Act 1889 and at that time called the Board of Agriculture, and then from 1903 the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, and from 1919 the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries...

’s Committee on the Investigation of Grouse Disease. Further refusals followed from former Discovery colleagues Michael Barne
Michael Barne
Michael Barne was an officer of the 1901-04 Discovery Expedition and was the last survivor of the expedition.-Early life:...

, Reginald Skelton
Reginald William Skelton
Reginald William Skelton was the Chief Engineer and Official Photographer of the 1901-1904 Discovery Expedition to Antarctica.-Early life:...

 and finally George Mulock, who inadvertently revealed to Shackleton that the Discovery officers had all committed themselves to Scott and his as yet unannounced expedition plans. The only Discovery hands to join Shackleton were the two Petty Officer
Petty Officer
A petty officer is a non-commissioned officer in many navies and is given the NATO rank denotion OR-6. They are equal in rank to sergeant, British Army and Royal Air Force. A Petty Officer is superior in rank to Leading Rate and subordinate to Chief Petty Officer, in the case of the British Armed...

s, Frank Wild
Frank Wild
Commander John Robert Francis Wild CBE, RNVR, FRGS , known as Frank Wild, was an explorer...

 and Ernest Joyce
Ernest Joyce
Ernest Edward Mills Joyce AM was a Royal Naval seaman and explorer who participated in four Antarctic expeditions during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, early in the early 20th century. He served under both Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton...

. Apparently Shackleton spotted Joyce on the top deck of a bus as it passed the expedition's London offices, whereupon someone was sent to find him and bring him in.

Shackleton’s second-in-command—although this was not clarified until the expedition reached the Antarctic—was Jameson Boyd Adams
Jameson Adams
Sir Jameson Adams was an Antarctic explorer with the Nimrod Expedition, the first expedition led by Ernest Shackleton in an unsuccessful attempt to reach the South Pole. Nevertheless, he was one of the party of four who reached the Polar Plateau for the first time ever, thus showing the way to the...

, a Royal Naval Reserve
Royal Naval Reserve
The Royal Naval Reserve is the volunteer reserve force of the Royal Navy in the United Kingdom. The present Royal Naval Reserve was formed in 1958 by merging the original Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve , a reserve of civilian volunteers founded in 1903...

 lieutenant
Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 who had turned down the chance of a regular commission
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

 to join Shackleton. He would also act as the expedition’s meteorologist. Nimrods captain was another naval reserve officer, Rupert England; 23-year-old John King Davis
John King Davis
John King Davis, CBE was an English-born Australian explorer and navigator notable for his work captaining exploration ships in Antarctic waters as well as for establishing meteorological stations on Macquarie Island in the subantarctic and on Willis Island in the Coral Sea.-Early life:Davis's...

, who would later make his own reputation as an Antarctic captain, was appointed chief officer at the last moment. Aeneas Mackintosh
Aeneas Mackintosh
Aeneas Lionel Acton Mackintosh was a British Merchant Navy officer and Antarctic explorer, who commanded the Ross Sea party as part of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914–17...

, a Merchant navy
Merchant Navy
The Merchant Navy is the maritime register of the United Kingdom, and describes the seagoing commercial interests of UK-registered ships and their crews. Merchant Navy vessels fly the Red Ensign and are regulated by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency...

 officer from the P and O
Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company
The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, which is usually known as P&O, is a British shipping and logistics company which dated from the early 19th century. Following its sale in March 2006 to Dubai Ports World for £3.9 billion, it became a subsidiary of DP World; however, the P&O...

 shipping line, was originally second officer
Second Mate
A second mate or second officer is a licensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship. The second mate is the third in command and a watchkeeping officer, customarily the ship's navigator. Other duties vary, but the second mate is often the medical officer and in charge of maintaining...

, but was later transferred to the shore party, being replaced as second officer by A. E. Harbord. Others in the shore party were the two surgeons, Alistair Mackay and Eric Marshall
Eric Marshall
Eric Marshall was an Antarctica explorer with the Nimrod Expedition led by Ernest Shackleton in 1907-09, and was one of the party of four who reached Furthest South at on 9 January 1909...

, Bernard Day the motor expert, and Sir Philip Brocklehurst, the subscribing member who had been taken on as assistant geologist.
The small scientific team that departed from England included 41-year-old biologist James Murray
James Murray (biologist)
James Murray was a biologist and explorer.-Career:In 1902, he helped on a biological survey of the Scottish lochs. In 1907, at the age of 41, he served under Shackleton on the Nimrod Expedition. He was in charge of base camp.After the expedition, in 1913, he co-wrote a book titled Antarctic Days...

 and 21-year-old geologist Raymond Priestley
Raymond Priestley
Sir Raymond Edward Priestley was a British geologist and early Antarctic explorer.-Biography:Raymond Priestley was born in Bredon's Norton,Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, in 1886, the second son and second of eight children of Joseph Edward Priestley, headmaster of Tewkesbury grammar school, and his...

, a future founder of the Scott Polar Research Institute
Scott Polar Research Institute
The Scott Polar Research Institute is a centre for research into the polar regions and glaciology worldwide. It is a sub-department of the Department of Geography in the University of Cambridge, located on Lensfield Road in the south of Cambridge ....

. Two important additions to the team were made in Australia. The first of these was Edgeworth David, a professor of geology at the University of Sydney
University of Sydney
The University of Sydney is a public university located in Sydney, New South Wales. The main campus spreads across the suburbs of Camperdown and Darlington on the southwestern outskirts of the Sydney CBD. Founded in 1850, it is the oldest university in Australia and Oceania...

, who became the party's chief scientific officer. The second was a former pupil of David’s, Douglas Mawson
Douglas Mawson
Sir Douglas Mawson, OBE, FRS, FAA was an Australian geologist, Antarctic explorer and Academic. Along with Roald Amundsen, Robert Falcon Scott, and Ernest Shackleton, Mawson was a key expedition leader during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.-Early work:He was appointed geologist to an...

, a lecturer in mineralogy at the University of Adelaide
University of Adelaide
The University of Adelaide is a public university located in Adelaide, South Australia. Established in 1874, it is the third oldest university in Australia...

. Both had originally intended to sail to Antarctica and then immediately back with Nimrod but were persuaded to become full members of the expedition. David was influential in securing the Australian government’s £5,000 grant.

Before departure for the Antarctic in August 1907 Joyce and Wild took a crash course in printing methods, as it was Shackleton's intention to publish a book or magazine while in the Antarctic.

Promise to Scott


Shackleton’s February 1907 announcement that he intended to base his expedition at the old Discovery headquarters was noted by Scott, whose own future Antarctic plans were at that stage unannounced. In a letter to Shackleton Scott claimed priority rights to McMurdo Sound. "I feel I have a sort of right to my own field of work", he wrote, adding: "anyone who has had to do with exploration will regard this region primarily as mine". He concluded by reminding Shackleton of his duty of loyalty towards his former commander.

Shackleton’s initial reply was accommodating: "I would like to fall in with your views as far as possible without creating a position that would be untenable to myself". However, Edward Wilson
Edward Adrian Wilson
Edward Adrian Wilson was a notable English polar explorer, physician, naturalist, painter and ornithologist.-Early life:...

, asked by Shackleton to mediate, took an even tougher line than Scott. "I think you should retire from McMurdo Sound", he wrote, advising Shackleton not to make any plans to work from anywhere in the entire Ross Sea quarter until Scott decided "what limits he puts on his own rights". To this Shackleton replied: "There is no doubt in my mind that his rights end at the base he asked for [...] I consider I have reached my limit and I go no further".

The matter was unresolved when Scott returned from sea duty in May 1907. Scott pressed for a line of demarcation at 170° W—everything to the west of that line, including Ross Island
Ross Island
Ross Island is an island formed by four volcanoes in the Ross Sea near the continent of Antarctica, off the coast of Victoria Land in McMurdo Sound.-Geography:...

, McMurdo Sound, and Victoria Land
Victoria Land
Victoria Land is a region of Antarctica bounded on the east by the Ross Ice Shelf and the Ross Sea and on the west by Oates Land and Wilkes Land. It was discovered by Captain James Clark Ross in January 1841 and named after the UK's Queen Victoria...

, would be Scott’s preserve. Shackleton, with other concerns pressing on him, felt obliged to concede. On 17 May he signed a declaration stating that "I am leaving the McMurdo base to you", and that he would seek to land further east, either at the Barrier Inlet
Bay of Whales
The Bay of Whales is a natural ice harbor, or iceport, indenting the front of Ross Ice Shelf just north of Roosevelt Island. It is the southernmost point of open ocean not only of the Ross Sea, but worldwide...

 visited briefly during the Discovery expedition, or at King Edward VII Land. He would not touch the coast of Victoria Land at all. It was a capitulation to Scott and Wilson, and meant forfeiting the expedition's aim of reaching the South Magnetic Pole which was located within Victoria Land. Polar historian Beau Riffenburgh
Beau Riffenburgh
Beau Riffenburgh is an author and historian specializing in polar exploration. He is also an award winning American Football coach and author of books on football history.- Early career :...

 believes this was "a promise that should never ethically have been demanded and one that should never have been given, impacting as it might on the entire safety of Shackleton’s expedition". The dispute soured relations between the two men (who nevertheless maintained public civilities), and led to the complete rupture of Shackleton’s formerly close friendship with Wilson.

In his own account of the expedition Shackleton makes no reference to the wrangle with Scott. He merely states that "before we finally left England I had decided that if possible I would establish my base in King Edward VII Land instead of [...] McMurdo Sound".

Voyage south


After inspection by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, Nimrod sailed on 11 August 1907. Shackleton remained behind on expedition business; he and other expedition members followed later, on a faster ship. The entire complement came together in New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, ready for the ship's departure to Antarctica on New Year’s Day, 1908. As a means of conserving fuel, Shackleton had arranged with the New Zealand government for Nimrod to be towed to the Antarctic circle
Antarctic Circle
The Antarctic Circle is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. For 2011, it is the parallel of latitude that runs south of the Equator.-Description:...

, a distance of approximately 1400 nmi (2,592.8 km; 1,611.1 mi), the costs of the tow being shared by the government and the Union Steam Ship Company. On 14 January, in sight of the first icebergs, the towline was cut. Nimrod, under her own power, proceeded southward into the floating pack ice, heading for the Barrier Inlet where six years earlier Discovery had paused to allow Scott and Shackleton to take experimental balloon flights.

The Barrier (later known as the Ross Ice Shelf
Ross Ice Shelf
The Ross Ice Shelf is the largest ice shelf of Antarctica . It is several hundred metres thick. The nearly vertical ice front to the open sea is more than 600 km long, and between 15 and 50 metres high above the water surface...

) was sighted on 23 January, but the inlet had disappeared; the Barrier edge had changed significantly in the intervening years, and the section which had included the inlet had broken away to form a considerable bay, which Shackleton named the Bay of Whales
Bay of Whales
The Bay of Whales is a natural ice harbor, or iceport, indenting the front of Ross Ice Shelf just north of Roosevelt Island. It is the southernmost point of open ocean not only of the Ross Sea, but worldwide...

 after the large number of whales seen there. Shackleton was not prepared to risk wintering on a Barrier surface that might calve
Ice calving
Ice calving, also known as glacier calving or iceberg calving, is a form of ice ablation or ice disruption. It is the sudden release and breaking away of a mass of ice from a glacier, iceberg, ice front, ice shelf, or crevasse...

 into the sea, so he turned the ship towards King Edward VII Land. After repeated efforts to approach this coast had failed, and with rapidly moving ice threatening to trap the ship, Nimrod was forced to retreat. Shackleton’s only choice now, other than abandonment of the expedition's goals, was to break the promise he had given to Scott. On 25 January he ordered the ship to head for McMurdo Sound.

Establishing the base


On arriving in McMurdo Sound on 29 January 1908, Nimrod’s progress southward to the Discovery base at Hut Point was blocked by frozen sea. Shackleton decided to wait a few days in the hope that the ice would break up. During this delay, second officer Aeneas Mackintosh suffered an accident that led to the loss of his right eye. After emergency surgery by Marshall and Mackay, he was forced to relinquish his shore party place and go back to New Zealand with Nimrod. He recovered sufficiently to return with the ship in the following season.

On 3 February Shackleton decided not to wait for the ice to shift but to make his headquarters at the nearest practicable landing place, Cape Royds
Cape Royds
Cape Royds, Antarctica, is a dark rock cape forming the west extremity of Ross Island, facing on McMurdo Sound. Discovered by the Discovery Expedition and named for Lieutenant Charles W.R. Royds, Royal Navy, who acted as meteorologist for the expedition...

. Late that evening the ship was moored, and a suitable site for the expedition’s prefabricated hut was selected. The site was separated from Hut Point by 20 nmi (37 km; 23 mi) of sea, with no landward route to the south. Shackleton believed the party was "fortunate to get winter quarters as near as this to our starting point for the south." He was privately anxious, however, as to whether the sea would freeze over sufficiently for the party to get across the ice to begin its journeys the following spring.

The following days were occupied with the landing of stores and equipment. This work was hampered by poor weather and by the caution of Captain England, who frequently took the ship out into the bay until ice conditions at the landing ground were in his view safer. The next fortnight followed this pattern, leading to sharp dissent between Shackleton and the captain. At one point Shackleton asked England to stand down on the grounds that he was ill, but England refused. The task of unloading became, in Riffenburgh's description, "mind-numbingly difficult" but was finally completed on 22 February. Nimrod at last sailed away north, England unaware that ship’s engineer Harry Dunlop was carrying a letter from Shackleton to the expedition’s New Zealand agent, requesting a replacement captain for the return voyage next year. This knowledge was an open secret among the shore party; Marshall recorded in his diary that he was "glad to see the last of [England] ... whole thing damned disgrace to name of country!"

Ascent of Mount Erebus


After Nimrods departure, the sea ice broke up, cutting off the party's route to the Barrier and thus making preparatory sledging and depot-laying impossible. Shackleton decided to give the expedition impetus by ordering an immediate attempt to ascend Mount Erebus
Mount Erebus
Mount Erebus in Antarctica is the southernmost historically active volcano on Earth, the second highest volcano in Antarctica , and the 6th highest ultra mountain on an island. With a summit elevation of , it is located on Ross Island, which is also home to three inactive volcanoes, notably Mount...

.

This mountain, 12450 feet (3,794.8 m) high, had never been climbed. A party from Discovery (which had included Frank Wild and Ernest Joyce) had explored the foothills in 1904 but had not ascended higher than 3000 feet (914.4 m). Neither Wild nor Joyce was in the Nimrod Expedition’s main Erebus party, which consisted of Edgeworth David, Douglas Mawson and Alistair Mackay. With Marshall, Adams and Brocklehurst forming a support group, the ascent began on 5 March.

On 7 March the two groups combined at around 5500 feet (1,676.4 m), and all advanced towards the summit. On the following day a blizzard
Blizzard
A blizzard is a severe snowstorm characterized by strong winds. By definition, the difference between blizzard and a snowstorm is the strength of the wind. To be a blizzard, a snow storm must have winds in excess of with blowing or drifting snow which reduces visibility to 400 meters or ¼ mile or...

 held them up, but early on 9 March the climb resumed; later that day the summit of the lower, main crater, was achieved. By this time Brocklehurst’s feet were too frostbitten for him to continue, so he was left in camp while the others advanced to the active crater, which they reached after four hours. Several meteorological experiments were carried out, and many rock samples were taken. Thereafter a rapid descent was made, mainly by sliding down successive snow-slopes. The party reached the Cape Royds hut "nearly dead", according to Eric Marshall, on 11 March.

Winter 1908


The expedition’s hut, a prefabricated structure measuring 33 x 19 feet (10m x 5.8m), was ready for occupation by the end of February. It was divided into a series of mainly two-person cubicles, with a kitchen area, a darkroom, storage and laboratory space. The ponies were housed in stalls built on the most sheltered side of the hut, while the dog kennels were placed close to the porch. Shackleton's inclusive leadership style, in contrast to that of Scott, meant no demarcation between upper and lower decks—all lived, worked and ate together. Morale was high; as assistant geologist Philip Brocklehurst recorded, Shackleton "had a faculty for treating each member of the expedition as though he were valuable to it".

In the ensuing months of winter darkness Joyce and Wild printed around 30 copies of the expedition’s book, Aurora Australis, which were sewn and bound using packaging materials. The most important winter’s work, however, was preparing for the following season’s major journeys, which were to include attempts on both the South Pole and the South Magnetic Pole. By making his base in McMurdo Sound Shackleton had been able to reinstate the Magnetic Pole as an expedition objective. Shackleton himself would be leading the South Pole journey, which had suffered a serious setback during the winter when four of the remaining ponies died, mainly from eating volcanic sand for its salt content.

Southern journey



Outward march


Shackleton’s choice of a four-man team for the southern journey to the South Pole was largely determined by the number of surviving ponies. Influenced by his experiences on the Discovery Expedition, he had put his confidence in ponies rather than dogs for the long polar march. The motor car, which ran well on flat ice, could not cope with Barrier surfaces and was not considered for the polar journey. The men chosen by Shackleton to accompany him were Marshall, Adams and Wild. Joyce, whose Antarctic experience exceeded all save Wild’s, was excluded from the party after Marshall’s medical examination raised doubts about his fitness.

The march began on 29 October 1908. Shackleton had calculated the return distance to the Pole as 1494 nmi (2,766.9 km; 1,719.3 mi). His initial plan allowed 91 days for the return journey, requiring a daily average distance of about 16 nmi (29.6 km; 18.4 mi). After a slow start due to a combination of poor weather and lameness in the horses, Shackleton reduced the daily food allowance to extend the total available journey time to 110 days. This required a shorter daily average of around 13½ nautical miles. Between 9 November and 21 November they made good progress, but the ponies suffered on the difficult Barrier surface, and the first of the four had to be shot when the party reached 81° S. On 26 November a new farthest south record was established as they passed the 82° 17′ mark set by Scott’s southern march in December 1902. Shackleton’s party covered the distance in 29 days compared with Scott’s 59, using a track considerably east of Scott's to avoid the surface problems the earlier journey had encountered.

As the group moved into unknown territory, the Barrier surface became increasingly disturbed and broken; two more ponies succumbed to the strain. The mountains to the west curved round to block their path southward, and the party's attention was caught by a "brilliant gleam of light" in the sky ahead. The reason for this phenomenon became clear on 3 December when, after a climb through the foothills of the mountain chain, they saw before them what Shackleton later described as "an open road to the south, [...] a great glacier, running almost south to north between two huge mountain ranges". The reflection of the glacier's surface had caused the huge ice blink
Ice Blink
Ice blink is the white light seen on the horizon, especially on the underside of low clouds, resulting from reflection of light off a field of ice immediately beyond....

 previously observed in the sky.

Shackleton christened this glacier the "Beardmore" after the expedition's biggest sponsor. Travel on the glacier surface proved to be a trial, especially for Socks the remaining pony, who had great difficulty in finding secure footings. On 7 December Socks disappeared down a deep crevasse
Crevasse
A crevasse is a deep crack in an ice sheet rhys glacier . Crevasses form as a result of the movement and resulting stress associated with the sheer stress generated when two semi-rigid pieces above a plastic substrate have different rates of movement...

, very nearly taking Wild with him. Fortunately for the party, the pony's harness
Horse harness
A horse harness is a type of horse tack that allows a horse or other equine to pull various horse-drawn vehicles such as a carriage, wagon or sleigh. Harnesses may also be used to hitch animals to other loads such as a plow or canal boat....

 broke, and the sledge containing their supplies remained on the surface. However, for the rest of the southward journey and the whole of the return trip they had to rely on man-hauling
Manhauling
Manhauling, often expressed as man-hauling, means the pulling forward of sledges, trucks or other load-carrying vehicles by human power unaided by animals or machines...

.

As the journey continued, personal antagonisms emerged. Wild privately expressed the wish that Marshall would "fall down a crevasse about a thousand feet deep". Marshall wrote that following Shackleton to the Pole was "like following an old woman. Always panicking". However, Christmas Day was celebrated with crème de menthe
Crème de menthe
Crème de menthe is a sweet, mint-flavored alcoholic beverage. Its flavor is primarily derived from Corsican mint. It is available commercially in a colorless and a green version...

 and cigars. Their position was 85° 51′ S, still 249 nmi (461.1 km; 286.5 mi) from the Pole, and they were now carrying barely a month's supply of food, having stored the rest in depots for their return journey. They could not cover the remaining distance to the Pole and back with this amount of food. However, Shackleton was not yet prepared to admit that the Pole was beyond them and decided to go forward after cutting food rations further, and dumping all but the most essential equipment.

On Boxing Day
Boxing Day
Boxing Day is a bank or public holiday that occurs on 26 December, or the first or second weekday after Christmas Day, depending on national or regional laws. It is observed in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and some other Commonwealth nations. In Ireland, it is recognized as...

 the glacier ascent was at last completed, and the march on the polar plateau began. Conditions did not ease, however. Shackleton recorded 31 December as the "hardest day we have had". On the next day he noted that, having attained 87° 6½′ S, they had beaten North and South polar records. That day Wild wrote that "if we only had Joyce and Marston here instead of those two grubscoffing useless beggars..." (Marshall and Adams) "...we would have done it [the Pole] easily." On 4 January 1909 Shackleton finally admitted defeat, and revised his goal to the symbolic achievement of getting within 100 geographical miles of the Pole. The party struggled on, at the borders of survival, until on 9 January 1909, after a last dash forward without the sledge or other equipment, the march ended. "We have shot our bolt", wrote Shackleton, "and the tale is 88° 23′ S". They were 97 geographical miles from the South Pole
Farthest South
Farthest South was the term used to denote the most southerly latitudes reached by explorers before the conquest of the South Pole in 1911. Significant steps on the road to the pole were the discovery of lands south of Cape Horn in 1619, Captain James Cook's crossing of the Antarctic Circle in...

. The British flag was duly planted, and Shackleton named the polar plateau after King Edward VII.

Return journey


The party turned for home after 73 days' southward travel. Rations had been cut several times to extend the return journey time beyond the original 110-day estimate. Shackleton now aimed to reach Hut Point in 50 days, since according to Shackleton's prior orders Nimrod, having returned to take the expedition home, would depart on 1 March at the latest. The four men were now more or less physical wrecks, yet in the days following their turn north they achieved impressive distances, reaching the head of the glacier on 19 January. As they began the descent they had five days' food at half rations, to last them until the Lower Glacier depot; during the ascent the same distance had taken 12 days. Shackleton's physical condition was by now a major concern, yet according to Adams "the worse he felt, the harder he pulled".

The depot was reached on 28 January. Wild, ill with dysentery
Dysentery
Dysentery is an inflammatory disorder of the intestine, especially of the colon, that results in severe diarrhea containing mucus and/or blood in the faeces with fever and abdominal pain. If left untreated, dysentery can be fatal.There are differences between dysentery and normal bloody diarrhoea...

, was unable to pull or to eat anything but biscuits, which were in short supply. On 31 January Shackleton forced his own breakfast biscuit on Wild, a gesture that moved Wild to write: "BY GOD I shall never forget. Thousands of pounds would not have bought that one biscuit". A few days later the rest of the party were struck with severe enteritis
Enteritis
In medicine, enteritis, from Greek words enteron and suffix -itis , refers to inflammation of the small intestine. It is most commonly caused by the ingestion of substances contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms. Symptoms include abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, dehydration and fever...

, the result of eating tainted pony-meat. But the pace of march had to be maintained; the small amounts of food carried between depots would make any delay fatal. Fortunately a strong wind behind them enabled them to set a sail and maintain a good marching rate.

"We are so thin that our bones ache as we lie on the hard snow", wrote Shackleton. From 18 February onward they began to pick up familiar landmarks, and on the 23rd they reached Bluff Depot, which to their great relief had been copiously resupplied by Ernest Joyce. The range of delicacies over and above the crates of regular supplies was listed by Shackleton: "Carlsbad plums, eggs, cakes, plum pudding, gingerbread and crystallised fruit". Wild's laconic
Laconic phrase
A laconic phrase is a very concise or terse statement, named after Laconia , a polis of ancient Greece surrounding the city of Sparta proper. In common usage, Sparta referred both to Lacedaemon and Sparta...

 comment was "Good old Joyce".

Their food worries were now resolved, but they still had to get back to Hut Point before the 1 March deadline. The final leg of their march was interrupted by a blizzard, which held them in camp for 24 hours. On 27 February, when they were still 33 nmi (61.1 km; 38 mi) from safety, Marshall collapsed. Shackleton then decided that he and Wild would make a dash for Hut Point in hopes of finding the ship and holding her until the other two could be rescued. They reached the hut late on 28 February. Hoping that the ship was nearby, they sought to attract its attention by setting fire to a small wooden hut used for magnetic observations. Shortly afterwards Nimrod, which had been anchored at the Glacier Tongue
Erebus Ice Tongue
The Erebus Ice Tongue is a mountain outlet glacier that projects 11–12 km into McMurdo Sound from the Ross Island coastline near Cape Evans, Antarctica. The glacier tongue varies in thickness from 50 m at the snout to 300 m at the point where it is grounded on the shoreline. Explorers from...

, came into view: "No happier sight ever met the eyes of man", wrote Wild later. It was a further three days before Adams and Marshall could be picked up from the Barrier, but by 4 March the whole southern party was aboard and Shackleton was able to order full steam towards the north.

Northern Party


While preparing for his southern journey, Shackleton gave instructions to Edgeworth David to lead a Northern party to Victoria Land to carry out magnetic and geological work. The party was to try to reach the Magnetic Pole, and was to carry out a full geological survey in the Dry Valley
McMurdo Dry Valleys
The McMurdo Dry Valleys are a row of snow-free valleys in Antarctica located within Victoria Land west of McMurdo Sound. The region is one of the world's most extreme deserts, and includes many interesting features including Lake Vida and the Onyx River, Antarctica's longest river.-Climate:The Dry...

 area.. David's party consisted of himself, Douglas Mawson and Alistair Mackay. It would be a man-hauling party; the dogs remained at base to be used for depot-laying and other routine work. The party had orders to plant the Union Jack at the Magnetic Pole and to take possession of Victoria Land for the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. After several days' preparatory work they started out on 5 October 1908, drawn for the first few miles by the motor car.

Due to sea ice conditions and adverse weather, progress was initially very slow. By the end of October they had crossed McMurdo Sound and advanced 60 miles (100 km) up the difficult Victoria Land coast, at which point they decided to concentrate all their efforts on reaching the Magnetic Pole. After traversing the Nordenskjold Ice Tongue
Nordenskjold Ice Tongue
Nordenskjold Ice Tongue is a broad glacier tongue extending eastward from the Mawson Glacier into the Ross Sea in Antarctica.Discovered by the Discovery expedition and named for Otto Nordenskiöld. Although this feature is a glacier tongue, the generic term ice tongue is retained in the name to...

 and the treacherous Drygalski Glacier
Drygalski Glacier
The Drygalski Ice Tongue or Drygalski Barrier or Drygalski Glacier Tongue is a glacier in Antarctica, located on the Scott Coast, in the northern McMurdo Sound of Antarctica's Ross Dependency, north of Ross Island. The ice tongue is located at...

 they were finally able to leave the coast and turn north-west, towards the Magnetic Pole's approximate location. Before then, David had a narrow escape after falling into a crevasse but was rescued by Mawson.

Their way up to the inland plateau was via a labyrinthine glacier (later named the Reeves Glacier after the Royal Geographical Society's main map curator), which brought them on 27 December to a hard snow surface. This enabled them to move more swiftly, at a rate of about 10 nmi (18.5 km; 11.5 mi) daily, taking regular magnetic observations. On 16 January these observations showed them to be about 13 nmi (24.1 km; 15 mi) from the Magnetic Pole. The next day, 17 January 1909, they reached their goal, fixing the pole's position as 72° 15′ S, 155° 16′ E, at an elevation of 7260 feet (2,212.8 m). In a muted ceremony, David took formal possession of the area for the British Empire.

Exhausted, and short of food, the party faced a return journey of 250 nmi (463 km; 287.7 mi), with just 15 days to complete it if they were to make their prearranged coastal rendezvous with Nimrod. Despite increasing physical weakness they maintained their daily distances, and on 31 January were 16 nmi (29.6 km; 18.4 mi) from their agreed pick-up point. Bad weather then delayed them, and the rendezvous was not reached until 2 February. That night, in heavy drifting snow, Nimrod passed by them, unable to make out their camp. Two days later, however, after Nimrod had turned south again, the group was spotted from the ship and was able to scramble to safety, although in the rush to get aboard Mawson fell 18 feet (5.5 m) down a crevasse. The party had been travelling for four months and were wearing the same clothes in which they had departed Cape Royds; reportedly "the aroma was overpowering". Before this rescue, Nimrod had picked up a geological party consisting of Priestley, Brocklehurst and Bertram Armytage, who had been carrying out geological work in the Ferrar Glacier
Ferrar Glacier
The Ferrar Glacier is an Antarctic glacier about long, flowing from the plateau of Victoria Land west of the Royal Society Range to New Harbour in McMurdo Sound. The glacier makes a right turn northeast of Knobhead, where it is apposed, i.e., joined in Siamese-twin fashion, to Taylor Glacier...

 region.

Aftermath


On 23 March 1909, Shackleton landed in New Zealand and cabled a 2,500-word report to the London Daily Mail
Daily Mail
The Daily Mail is a British daily middle-market tabloid newspaper owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust. First published in 1896 by Lord Northcliffe, it is the United Kingdom's second biggest-selling daily newspaper after The Sun. Its sister paper The Mail on Sunday was launched in 1982...

, with which he had an exclusive contract. Amid the acclamation and unstinting praise that Shackleton received from the exploring community, including Nansen
Fridtjof Nansen
Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen was a Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. In his youth a champion skier and ice skater, he led the team that made the first crossing of the Greenland interior in 1888, and won international fame after reaching a...

 and Amundsen, the response of the Royal Geographical Society was more guarded. Its former president, Sir Clements Markham, privately expressed his disbelief of Shackleton's claimed latitude. However, on 14 June, Shackleton was met at London's Charing Cross Station
Charing Cross station
Charing Cross station may refer to:In London, England:*Charing Cross railway station*Charing Cross tube station **Embankment tube station was previously named Charing CrossIn Glasgow, Scotland:...

 by a very large crowd, which included RGS president Leonard Darwin
Leonard Darwin
Major Leonard Darwin , a son of the English naturalist Charles Darwin, was variously a soldier, politician, economist, eugenicist and mentor of the statistician and evolutionary biologist Ronald Fisher.- Biography :...

 and a rather reluctant Captain Scott.

As to the latitude claimed, the reason for doubting its accuracy was that after 3 January all computations of position were based on dead reckoning
Dead reckoning
In navigation, dead reckoning is the process of calculating one's current position by using a previously determined position, or fix, and advancing that position based upon known or estimated speeds over elapsed time, and course...

; that is, on course, speed and elapsed time. The last observation, on 3 January had calculated the latitude as 87° 22′. Shackleton's table of distances show that over the next three days they covered just over 40 nmi (74.1 km; 46 mi), to reach an estimated 88° 7′ on 6 January. They were then held up for two days by a blizzard. On 9 January 1909 the table shows that the party travelled from their last camp a further 16 nmi (29.6 km; 18.4 mi) to reach their farthest south, and the same distance back to camp. This distance in a single day far exceeded those for any other stage of the journey. Shackleton explained that this was a dash, "half running, half walking", unencumbered by the sledge or other equipment. Each of the four men independently confirmed his belief in the latitude achieved, and none gave any subsequent cause for his word to be doubted.

Official recognition soon came to Shackleton in the form of the rank of Commander of the Royal Victorian Order bestowed by the King, who later conferred a knighthood. The RGS presented him with a gold medal, although apparently with reservations—"We do not propose to make the Medal so large as that which was awarded to Captain Scott", recorded an official. Although in the eyes of the public he was a hero, the riches that Shackleton had anticipated failed to materialise. The soaring costs of the expedition and the need to meet loan guarantees meant that he was saved from financial embarrassment only by a belated government grant of £20,000.

The farthest south record of the Nimrod Expedition stood for less than three years, until Amundsen reached the South Pole on 15 December 1911. For his trail-breaking achievements Shackleton received a fulsome tribute from Amundsen: "What Nansen is to the North, Shackleton is to the South". Thereafter Shackleton's Antarctic ambitions were fixed on a transcontinental crossing, which he attempted, unsuccessfully, with the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition
Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition
The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition , also known as the Endurance Expedition, is considered the last major expedition of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. Conceived by Sir Ernest Shackleton, the expedition was an attempt to make the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent...

, 1914–17. His status as a leading figure of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration
Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration
The Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration defines an era which extended from the end of the 19th century to the early 1920s. During this 25-year period the Antarctic continent became the focus of an international effort which resulted in intensive scientific and geographical exploration, sixteen...

 was assured, however. Other members of the Nimrod Expedition also achieved fame and standing in future years. Edgeworth David, Adams, Mawson and Priestley all eventually received knighthoods, the latter two continuing their polar work on further expeditions, though neither went south again with Shackleton. Mawson led the 1911–13 Australian Antarctic Expedition, and Priestley was part of the Terra Nova expedition's
Terra Nova Expedition
The Terra Nova Expedition , officially the British Antarctic Expedition 1910, was led by Robert Falcon Scott with the objective of being the first to reach the geographical South Pole. Scott and four companions attained the pole on 17 January 1912, to find that a Norwegian team led by Roald...

 scientific team. Frank Wild was second-in-command to the "Boss" on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition and on the short Quest expedition
Shackleton-Rowett Expedition
The Shackleton–Rowett Expedition was Sir Ernest Shackleton's last Antarctic project, and the final episode in the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. The venture, financed by businessman John Quiller Rowett, is sometimes referred to as the Quest Expedition after its ship Quest, a converted...

 where he took over command after Shackleton's death in South Georgia in 1922. 10 years after its return from the Antarctic, Nimrod was battered to pieces in the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

, after running aground on the Barber Sands off the Norfolk
Norfolk
Norfolk is a low-lying county in the East of England. It has borders with Lincolnshire to the west, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea coast and to the north-west the county is bordered by The Wash. The county...

 (UK) coast on 31 January 1919. Only two of her 12-person crew survived.

Several mostly intact cases of whisky left behind in 1909 were recovered in 2010 and will be analyzed for possible re-creation of the vintage formula.

See also



  • Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration
    Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration
    The Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration defines an era which extended from the end of the 19th century to the early 1920s. During this 25-year period the Antarctic continent became the focus of an international effort which resulted in intensive scientific and geographical exploration, sixteen...

  • List of Antarctic expeditions
  • The Defile
    The Defile
    The Defile is a narrow ice-free passageway between the terminus of Suess Glacier and the talus-covered slope of Nussbaum Riegel in Taylor Valley, Victoria Land. Charted and descriptively named by the British Antarctic Expedition under Scott, 1910-13....


Sources


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External links