Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (Nov. 16)

Today was all about Shackleton.  He was one of the most epic men that lived during the twentieth century.  Here's a short recap of what he did in case you didn't know.  
In 1914, he led an expedition to cross the Antarctic continent through the South Pole.  He and his crew sailed to the Weddell  Sea to begin their expedition, but their ship, the Endurance, was frozen in the pack ice.  Shackleton decided to wait out the Antarctic winter for the ice to thaw and release their ship, but it was eventually crushed and sank, leaving the 28 men to their three life boats.  They sailed in the life boats to Elephant Island where Shackleton left two of the boats and 22 of his men behind.  He and five other men then sailed for over 800 miles in 15 days to South Georgia Island!  They rigged a sail on their largest lifeboat, the James Caird (24.5 feet), and navigated by taking solar readings, but the sun only appeared four times throughout the voyage!  Upon landing on the western side of the island, Shackleton and two others made the trek across the island to reach the only active whaling camp at Stromness.  They completed this nearly 22 mile section in only 39 hours, crossing glaciers, climbing over, and rappelling down mountains all during the winter!  One of the men even fell through a frozen lake up to his waist before completing the trip. Overall, they spent more than a year to struggle back! 

Shackleton came off the glacier all the way in back of the photo.

This is the lake where Tom Crean fell through the ice.

Shackleton's first view of the Stromness whaling station.

Shackleton's Waterfall, the three men nearly died descending the cliff on the right.


Shackleton is known for perhaps the most spectacular failure ever!  He did not cross Antarctica.  He didn't even really begin to attempt it before the ship got stuck!  The reason his failure has been memorialized is not just because of how he returned to civilization, but that he did all of what I previously described, without losing a single man!  Truly epic!
Today we completed the last four miles of this intrepid journey.  The hike was beautiful! The ship dropped us off in Fortuna Bay and picked us up on the other side of the pass at the Stromness whaling station where Shackleton ended his adventure.   The whaling station, in case you were wondering, has long since been out of use.  The afternoon was spent in the"capital" of SGI, Grytviken, which has a post office, museum, fishery officer, and a hydroelectric power plant, but only a handful of people.  Shackleton died here aboard the Quest in 1922 and was buried in the small cemetery outside the town.  While we visited he grave, there was actually a beautiful rainbow, the end of which coincidentally rested on the site where he died.  

A full size replica of the James Caird.

The Grytviken Church.

"To the dear memory of Ernest Henry Shackleton -- Explorer.  
Born 15th Feb. 1874.  Entered the Life Eternal 5th Jan. 1922."

Shackleton's gravestone had a caption from his favorite poet on the back.
"I hold that a man should strive to the uttermost for his life's set prize."
~Robert Browning
I have no idea what Browning intended by the quote or how Shackleton interpreted or applied it, but it leads me to what I mentioned in one of my earlier entries.  I listened to a message of Francis Chan's as he spoke on Philippians 1:27, about letting your manner of life be worthy of the gospel.  What a challenge!  I don't think I'm striving like I could or should be, but maybe that's why I'm being reminded about it lately....
What is your life's prize? Do you strive for it?

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