Ernest Shackleton

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  • Adventurer
  • What mean this word, "can't"?
Ernest Shackleton

In 1914–1916, Shackleton and his crew survived a shipwreck on ANTARCTICA. In 1919 he published South, his understated account of the ordeal. There are PBS documentaries and a full–length movie dramatization (done rather well, imho) that you can get on DVD. First, though, read Shackleton’s own words. He and his crew pulled off an amazing feat, surviving the Antarctic with minimal gear (circa 1915 gear, mind you; that means no GoreTex!) by eating penguins and sailing an open boat to South Georgia — an 800 mile trip, and then a 36–hour, 22 mile hike over glaciers and mountains to a settlement. Imagine doing just the crossing of the glaciers and frozen mountains of South Georgia, on foot, and then remember that these guys did it after living on penguin meat for over a year, had just made a two–week, 800 mile crossing in an open boat in strong winds and cold waves that (was later discovered) sunk a 500 ton ship, and were wearing the same worn-out boots and clothes they had been wearing 24/7 for over a year. Damn! These men were no sissies. On one of the PBS specials, the now–adult son of one of the crew said his father didn’t speak about the expedition very much, and when pressed would shrug his shoulders and say, “Yes, we did have a bit of hard time of it.”

Most of us are just not this strong, but the story does plant the seed that just maybe you, also, are capable of far more than you ever imagined.