Ernest Shackleton


Ernest grew up in a very large family, he had two brothers and eight sisters, but this for him has never meant lack of food or lack of a comfortable home.
Shackleton was bored by the school and did not follow the advises of his father who wanted him to follow in the medical profession. He decided that he wanted to live in the sea and joined the Navy at the age of fourteen years, the minimum limit for entry.
Now that he finally achieved his goal, Shackleton suddenly begun to work hardly.
On 13 September 1900 Shackleton had asked to participate as a volunteer at the English Antarctic Expedition that was organized by Sir Clements Markham, president of the Royal Geographical Society. Lieutenant Robert F. Scott, then famous explorer, had been appointed to command the expedition. The expedition set sail from ‘England on August 6 1901, aboard the Discovery, steamy wooden boat. For that time was the best organized expedition ventured to Antarctic. In mid-February 1902, Scott had established the winter quarter at Hut Point on ‘Ross Island. With Shackleton as editor, the expedition has also published the very first magazine of Antarctic, the South Polar Times. On 2 November 1902 Scott left for the South Pole with his scientist Dr Edward Wilson, Shackleton, 19 dogs and 5 sledges. Despite the initial optimism the harsh reality soon took the upper hand. The lack of experience in ski and sled dogs was fatal and the results were very little. Only their physical power allow them to reach 82.16 ° S before turning back. In fact, only Scott and Wilson reached this point, Shackleton was forced to stay behind with dogs.
Although it had been treated as an invalid by Scott, Shackleton decided that it would be  back in Antarctic one day. He did it in 1908. Meanwhile, after his return from the Discovery expedition, Shackleton was married and fathered for the first time. The British Antarctica Expedition left Lyttleton, New Zealand, in the New Year Day of 1908, on board the Nimrod. The small whaler, reached the Ross Ice Shelf in January 1908. Shackleton discovered the Beardmore glacier, named in honor of the sponsor of the expedition and reached 88.23 ° S on the Antarctic Plateau on January 9 1909. He also sent expeditions that have reached the south magnetic pole and the top of Mount Erebus. On his return to England, he became a hero and received numerous awards from different geographical societies.
In 1914, after the Pole was conquered by Roald Amundsen in 1911, Shackleton embarked on a new challenge, wanted to cross the continent on foot, from the Wedell Sea to the Ross Sea.
Leaving the South Georgia in December 1914, the Endurance made his course southward through the pack until it was no longer able to continue and was finally trapped in the ice where he remained for nearly two years in one of the most hostile environments on earth. When the Endurance sanked cause of the ice pressure, Shackleton using sledges and boats first reached Elephant Island in April 15 1916 and then South Georgia on August 30, for a total of about a thousand miles. He then completed the rescue operation of its men who were awaiting rescue in the Ross Sea. Not one man was lost and Shackleton gained the respect and admiration of all his crew.
Returned home he made many conferences abot the Endurance expedition but not brought many economic benefits.
But suddendly in 1921, Shackleton had the opportunity of another Antarctic expedition. Its aim was to circumnavigate the Antarctic continent from the sea, but the plans were  brutally interrupted on January 5 1922, when Shackleton died of a heart attack aboard his ship, the Quest, while it was anchored off the coast of South Georgia near the South Sandwichs. His body was brought to England, but his widow has requested that the burial took place at Grytviken in South Georgia, where Shackleton was buried on March 5 1922.

BIOGRAPHY curated by Piero Bosco