Antarctic explorers recreate Shackleton’s expedition

A team of explorers retracing the steps of Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctica Voyage, have made it to the Stormness whaling station, after team leader British-Australian explorer Tim Jarvis and partner Barry Gray were forced to wait out severe weather.


THE BRITISH-AUSTRALIAN explorer leading the team attempting to recreate a famous Antarctic expedition was stranded on a plateau only hours before completing his voyage after a blizzard forced the evacuation of the majority of his support team.

Tim Jarvis and mountaineer Barry Gray “hunkered down” in a tent at Shackleton’s Gap in order to avoid the extreme weather conditions, including wind gusts of 45 knots and a mixture of rain, sleet and snow causing zero visibility. Jarvis and Gray assured their support team on Saturday that they would continue their expedition when conditions improved, ultimately completing their epic journey during a small break in the adverse weather conditions on Monday morning.

Upon arrival at former whaling station Stromness, Jarvis said: “These early explorers were iron men in wooden boats and while modern man mostly travel around in iron vessels, I hope we’ve been able to emulate some of what they achieved. There’s no doubt in my mind that everyone has a Shackleton double in them and I hope we’ve inspired a few people to find theirs.”

Jarvis’s team had been attempting to replicate the famous expedition of British adventurer Ernest Shackleton, who was shipwrecked while attempting to cross Antarctica from coast-to-coast in the 1910s. After his ship sunk after being frozen in an ice floe, Shackleton and a small crew were forced to navigate dangerous waters and trek 51 kilometres over mountainous terrain to reach a whaling station and seek help.

Shackleton was ultimately able to arrange the rescue of his crew members after they had endured almost five months of isolation in the harsh Antarctic terrain. Despite their struggle to survive, Shackleton’s team did not incur any casualties and the explorer’s intense mission to find help became a staple part of Antarctic folklore.

Jarvis’s expedition had already completed the dangerous crossing of the Southern Ocean before being stranded by the adverse weather. After resuming their voyage they faced a two-day climb through the mountainous region of South Georgia before completing their expedition.

The expedition had endeavoured to recreate Shackleton’s experience as authentically as possible, only using mountain-climbing gear and navigation equipment that the original team would have utilised in the early 1900s. Jarvis and Gray were resupplied at their position in Shackleton’s Gap over the weekend by members of their crew, who were forced to use modern equipment in order to safely access their colleagues.

Jarvis and Gray were the only remaining members of the original six-person team that set out on the journey. Several of their teammates were forced to withdraw from the expedition after contracting trench foot — a debilitating rotting of the feet — while on the 19-day sea voyage to South Georgia Island from the site of Shackleton’s shipwreck.

Jarvis, inducted as a Member of the Order of Australia in 2010, is a prominent environmental scientist that advises agencies such as the World Bank and AusAID on issues of sustainability and conservation. He recently completed another re-enactment of a historical Antarctic expedition, tracing the path of Australian explorer Sir Douglas Mawson’s ill-fated 1912 voyage across the continent.



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About the author

Paul Bleakley is a journalist and academic raised on Queensland's Gold Coast. After graduating with a Bachelor of Journalism, he went on to teach high school English and History in his hometown. Paul's work on democratic revolutions will be featured in the upcoming book 'The Cultivation of Peace'. He loves reality TV, wandering aimlessly and wearing flip flops on cold London days.

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