Archive for January, 2012
The Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1914-1917
In Shackleton’s own words, “After the conquest of the South Pole by Amundsen who, by a narrow margin of days only, was in advance of the British Expedition under Scott, there remained but one great main object of Antarctic journeyings–the crossing of the South Polar continent from sea to sea”.
When Shackleton returned from the Nimrod Expedition, on which an attempt was made to plant the British flag on the South Pole, attention was turned towards the crossing of the continent as Shackleton felt certain that either Amundsen or Scott would succeed where he had failed, just 97 miles from his goal.
Shackleton felt that the first crossing of the Antarctic Continent, from sea to sea via the Pole, apart from its historic value, would be a journey of great scientific importance. The distance would be roughly 1800 miles, and the first half of this, from the Weddell Sea to the Pole, would be over unexplored territory. Shackleton intended on taking continuous magnetic observations as the glaciologist and geologist studied ice formations and the mountains of Victoria Land. While the Trans-continental party worked its way across the continent, other scientific parties would operate from the base on the Weddell Sea. One sledging party would travel towards Graham Land, making observations and collecting geological specimens while another party would travel eastward toward Enderby Land conducting the same types of studies. A third party would remain at the base to study the fauna of the land and sea and the meteorological conditions. From the Ross Sea base in McMurdo Sound, another party would push southward to await the arrival of the Trans-continental party at the top of the Beardmore Glacier. Two ships were required for the expedition. The Endurance would be used to transport the Trans-continental party to the Weddell Sea and would afterwards explore the shores of the coastline. She was constructed at Sandefjord by the famous Norwegian builder, Christensen. She was barquentine rigged and had triple-expansion engines which gave her a speed under steam of 9 to 10 knots. Some 350 tons, she was built of selected pine, oak and greenheart. Fully equipped, she cost the Expedition £14,000. Aurora, the ship used to take out the Ross Sea Party, was purchased from Douglas Mawson. She was very similar to theTerra Nova of Scott’s expedition.