In December 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton set out on a daring expedition. He wanted to lead a team to the first crossing of the Antarctic continent on foot from the Weddell to the Ross Sea. He would fail.

His ship The Endurance, fought through thick ice toward the continent. While deep in the pack of the Weddell Sea, the ship got stuck in the crushing ice. This was on January 8th.

It became clear that that the crew would be stuck until rescue, but no one at the time had any idea just how long they would have to wait.

They camped on the ice beside the crushed ship. The temp ranged from 30's to a low of -21 degrees Fahrenheit. Their clothing was inadequate and the sleeping bags were often moist. They warmed themselves with broken timber and when food rations ran out, they began eating wildlife, mostly penguins and seals.

By March 1916 they were forced to shoot their dogs for food.

The men began an arduous journey through the ice in search of land and ended up on Elephant Island. Many of the men lost their lives and some went insane. In all there were 27 men left. Shakleton realized they were still too far away to be rescued so he, and five of his strongest men, set out on the largest lifeboat for an 800 mile trek to South Georgia Island.

They would reach the island on May 19th. Their extremities were frostbiten and numb but they set out on foot for the whaling stations, 22 miles away. It was a 36 hour march but they made it and secured a rescue ship.

Unfortunately the ice was still too thick to attempt a rescue. Months went by, and failed rescue attempts increased. Finally in October of 1915, the men were rescued. All of the remaining men on Elephant Island were still alive and were awarded the Polar Medal upon their return home. Shackleton's feat of survival was overshadowed by WWI and the death of Robert F. Scott.

Sources: American Museum of Natural History, National Geographic, The Endurance by Alfred Lansing

Sir Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated attempt to lead the the first Trans-Antarctic expedition. Shackleton had twice before attempted to reach the South Pole, only to have Roald Amundsen's expedition get their first. So he and 27 men attempted the crossing ... only to never reach Antarctica

October 26, 1914
The Endurance departs Buenos Aires, Argentina. The group is officially known as th British Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
November 5, 1914
The crew arrives at Grytviken, South Georgia Island. They spend the next month in last-minute preparation.
December 5, 1914
Despite warnings from the whalers of heavy ice activity, the Endurance sets out across the Weddell Sea. The four-foot thick bow of the Endurance punches through the pack ice.
January 18, 1915
The Endurance is trapped in ice, which freezes around it. After failed attempts to dig it out, the men set up to live in the trapped ship for some time. Building out a luxury area they call the Ritz for evening socialization, playing football on the ice, and raising puppies become major pastimes, while the crew awaits a shift in the ice that may release the Endurance. As food becomes short, raising puppies is no longer an option.
November 21, 1915
The prayed-for shift in the ice happens, but not as expected. The ice floes compress the Endurance, crushing her mercilessly before drawing her into a watery grave.
December 29, 1915
After attempting to drag the lifeboats to open sea (having consumed the sled dogs already), the crew sets up Patience Camp on an ice floe, awaiting spring. Food supplies are short - penguin and seal are the main staples.
April 9, 1916
The 28 men climb into the three lifeboats, and begin rowing north to Elephant Island. After one camp on an ice floe, the crew must endure sleeping in the boats for the remainder of the journey.
April 16, 1916
Setting foot on land for the first time since leaving Grytviken, the crew reaches uninhabited Elephant Island. Salvaging two of the lifeboats to make the third more oceanworthy, Shackleton commissions the James Caird.
April 24, 1916
Shackleton and five others set out in the Caird for the 800 mile journey to South Georgia Island. The remaining crew are left to sustain themselves, knowing that if Shackleton fails, no one knows where they are, or even that they are still alive.
May 10, 1916
The Caird reaches the west coast of South Georgia Island. The next nine days are spent preparing three men to cross the island - putting screws into the soles of their shoes, catching food, resting.
May 19, 1916
Shackleton and two others set out to cross the island, covering 30 miles in 36 grueling hours. The reach the whaling station, and a ship is sent to recover the three men on the far coast.
August 30, 1916
After an unsuccessful attempt, the 22 remaining crewmen are rescued from Elephant Island.

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