Explorers discovered the wreckage of theEndurancethe Briton Ernest Shackleton’s three-master, at a depth of 3,000 meters in the Weddell Sea, at the very spot where she sank in 1915. “We are very moved to have located and captured images of theEndurance »said Wednesday, March 9, Mensun Bound, director of the exploration expedition organized by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust.
Shackleton’s Last Chance Expedition
October 1914. Ernest Shackleton embarks on his third attempt to storm Antarctica, as Europe’s powder keg ignites in the First World War. Objective: cross the white continent from one end to the other, from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea, ie 2,900 kilometres. This is the last chance expedition for Shackleton, ruined and scarred by two previous failures.
→ MAINTENANCE. “Alone in Antarctica, the question of God has resurfaced”
In 1902, the native of County Kildare, Ireland, had already been part of the “Discovery” expedition. Too weakened by scurvy, he did not reach the South Pole and turned back with his expedition leader. He then took the lead of his own expedition, baptized “Nimrod”, in 1908. But there again, Ernest Shackleton had to turn around 180 kilometers from the coveted pole, for lack of sufficient resources. It was finally the Norwegian Roald Amundsen who was the first to reach the South Pole in 1911.
The “Endurance” crushed by the ice
But, playing with bad luck, the “Endurance” expedition did not succeed either. Mistreated by the weather, the team arrives in the ice much further north than Shackleton had hoped. The earth is still far away, and the explorer seeks to advance as far as possible. At the beginning of 1915, we had to face the facts, theEndurance is trapped in the ice, which is slowly closing in on her.
→ TO REREAD. Global warming: have we really reached the point of no return?
The team camped for several months, waiting for a possible thaw. But nothing helped and, in October 1915, the explorer ordered to abandon ship, taking as much material as possible. The hull is slowly crushed by the ice which closes in on it, and theEndurance sinks under the eyes of the crew. Shackleton knows that his dream of crossing and glory sinks with the three-master. Thus begins a single and unique obsession: to survive and ensure the return to civilization of the 26 members of his crew.
A final crossing to find help
Drifting through the pack ice of the Weddell Sea in makeshift canoes, the men managed to reach Elephant Island in mid-April 1916, uninhabited but offering refuge on dry land after months at the mercy of the ice. . The land is inhospitable and the reserves are thin. Shackleton is aware that it could be months and years before a whaler passes by and rescues them.
The explorer then decides to go back to sea with five men and food for a few weeks. He hopes to reach the island of South Georgia to find help there. The exceptional talent of navigation and orientation of the New Zealander Frank Worsley allows the canoe to arrive safely, in May, after a crossing of 1,300 kilometers in extreme conditions. Problem: Shackleton and his men arrive on the uninhabited coast of the island. You still have to cross the snow-capped mountains, lands that had never been traveled by man.
Finally, on May 20, 1916, Shackleton rejoined civilization. The explorer immediately organizes rescue for his men on the other side of South Georgia Island, but also for those left behind on Elephant Island. Two years after their departure, all the members of Shackleton’s expedition are saved, with no loss of life. The tenacity and endurance of the British explorer are legendary.