Antarctic adventurers raise funds for Fauna & Flora International

In 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew of 28 men embarked on an expedition to cross Antarctica from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea. Disaster struck early on however, when the Endurance and her crew became trapped in the sea ice. Rather than succumbing to the inevitable, the men eked out an existence, drifting north for another five months until the melting ice finally released them into the Southern Ocean.

Now adrift in the world’s roughest ocean in three small, wooden lifeboats, the men paddled and sailed for several harrowing days to reach Elephant Island – a bleak and remote place home only to colonies of elephant seals and penguins.

Shackleton Epic - Original Expedition The Launching of the James Caird from Elephant Island

Launching of the James Caird from Elephant Island. Credit: Frank Hurley (courtesy of Scott Polar Research Institute).

With the long, dark winter looming, and his men half-starved and desperate, Shackleton realised he would have to go for help or all would perish. What followed was what Sir Edmund Hillary described as the greatest survival story ever undertaken.

After crossing 800 miles of treacherous ocean in a leaking 22.5 foot wooden lifeboat, Shackleton and five men eventually landed on the small, remote island of South Georgia. From there, he and two others set off on foot, climbing over precipitous, heavily glaciated mountains to reach a whaling station on the other side – a journey that today’s top mountaineers have been unable to repeat in the time they took.

Ultimately Shackleton was able to save all of his crew – an incredible triumph of endurance and leadership.

Wanted: ten hardy souls

To mark the centenary of this amazing voyage, British-Australian explorer Tim Jarvis has announced that he and five other adventurers will attempt to become the first to authentically re-enact Shackleton’s perilous ‘double journey’ across sea and land using traditional gear – an expedition they have dubbed the Shackleton Epic.

The only concessions to the use of modern equipment will be the storage of emergency equipment and radios, and the presence of a support vessel – the T.S. Pelican – all of which will only be called upon in the event of a real crisis.

Shackleton Epic’s presenting partner, Intrepid Travel, is offering “ten hardy souls” the chance to play their part in this historic adventure, joining the eight-week expedition aboard the T.S. Pelican.

Shackleton Epic - Expedition Support Vessel, T.S. Pelican

Support vessel, the T.S. Pelican.

The lucky crew will receive nautical training, and will watch as Jarvis and his team set off to follow in Shackleton’s footsteps across the mountainous interior of South Georgia. The TS Pelican will continue to offer support throughout the mission, and her crew will join in celebrating the expedition’s success with a pilgrimage to Shackleton’s grave at Grytviken.

To find out more, download the itinerary (PDF).

Supporting global biodiversity conservation

As the Shackleton Epic conservation partner, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) will be the beneficiary of expedition fundraising activities.

“As an environmental scientist with Arup, I have long admired the work of FFI and want to support their climate change and biodiversity conservation programs through Shackleton Epic. During the expedition, members of the voyage crew will be involved in monitoring environmental impacts,” Jarvis said.

Mark Rose with Shackleton Epic expedition leader Tim Jarvis, the Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, and crew.

FFI's Chief Executive Mark Rose with the Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, Expedition Leader Tim Jarvis and crew.

FFI’s Chief Executive Mark Rose is delighted that Shackleton Epic is raising funds to support its work in the area of global biodiversity.

“Change to global weather patterns is one of the greatest threats that will face biodiversity over the coming years and the Shackleton Epic partnership with FFI highlights the need for action to conserve the Antarctic ecosystem,” Rose said.

“I know I speak on behalf of all of FFI when I say that we are truly honored that Tim Jarvis has selected us as a conservation partner,” said Melissa Shackleton Dann, Chair of FFI’s US Board. “When I first met Tim through my cousin Alexandra Shackleton I knew immediately why she felt confident that Tim stands a very good chance of being able to replicate Shackleton’s gruelling boat journey. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be associated with such an exciting adventure and to know that FFI will benefit from it as well.”