KUED Airs Re-creation of Shackleton Voyage
Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which launched in 1914, met with disaster when his ship, The Endurance, was crushed by arctic ice and sank. His heroic leadership in the face of almost certain death saved the lives of 27 men stranded in the Antarctic for more than 500 days, and has inspired explorers and leaders across every continent over many generations.
The modern day re-creation crossed the treacherous Southern Ocean from Elephant Island to South Georgia (800 nautical miles) in a small wooden boat while battling gales, rough seas,, and stomach-churning swells. Once on land, the crew faced weather conditions they described as “Scotland on steroids” — simultaneous high winds, torrential rain, snow, hail, and ice. When the weather eased, Jarvis and two teammates trekked inland to reach an old whaling station at Stromness on South Georgia, traversing an icy, crevasse-riddled mountain range in unmapped territory, the route Shackleton and his men took almost a century ago as their only hope for rescue.
“Every time we thought we’d won, another obstacle presented itself,” Jarvis said, referring to several incidents shown in Chasing Shackleton, including the crew’s encounter with a lake they expected to be a glacier (it had since melted) and a home-stretch climb that led to a nearly impassable, 1000-foot drop that took three terrifying hours to descend.
Jarvis’ expedition, which occurred over three weeks in early 2013, had been in development since 2008 when Shackleton’s granddaughter Alexandra approached Jarvis with the idea to honor her grandfather. After agreeing to the challenge, Jarvis selected a team of British and Australian adventurers based on their determination, passion for adventure, and their sailing and climbing skills.
“One of the most crucial decisions Shackleton made during his expedition — indeed, pivotal to his success — was his choice of crew for the James Caird,” Jarvis said, referring to the 22.5-foot wooden lifeboat that carried a small team of survivors after The Endurance was crushed and sank. While Jarvis’ crew had its share of differences en route, he says the team’s general accord was a necessary element. “When you’re constantly worried about dying, you don’t really have time to disagree,” he said.
Jarvis’s vessel, named Alexandra Shackleton, was an exact replica of the James Caird, from its hand-stitched sails made from 1914 sailcloth down to the brass screws that held its wooden planks together. To complete the authentic experience, the team used 100-year-old equipment, navigational tools and period clothing that, helped them unlock Shackleton’s survival secrets, and gain insight into the original crew’s courage. State-of-the-art cameras were built into the boat and expedition cameraman/director Ed Wardle joined the crew to capture the action as it happened.