Available at Barnes and Noble

Available at Barnes and Noble

I was reading a book about the Endurance Expedition to Antarctica and unfortunately began with this version of the story.  It was very long winded and too detailed about things that did not really get to the heart of the story.  

I took it back and picked up the version shown to the left.  It was a quicker and more entertaining read to get through.

The story is amazing and shows exactly how vital the leader can be to the welfare of any expedition or serious undertaking.

Here is the story in brief.  Sir Ernest Shackleton was an experienced explorer of polar regions and had been to Antartcica a couple times and wanted to go again.  He organized a party of about 30 men to go on a trans Antarctic trek.  He secured a boat for the trip south, and organized a party to pick him up on the other side of Antarctica and in the process of making land fall in Antarctica, the ship was caught in an ice floe.  The ship was stuck for several months before the pressure of the ice crushed the ship.  The men evacuated the ship and camped on the ice for a few more months before the ice melted and they had to evacute on the life boats from the ship.  The men managed to land on Elephant Island in Antarctica and then Shackleton with five other men set sail in one of the lifeboats to cross 800 miles of open ocean to land at a very small island.  After landing at the small island, the men were on the opposite side of the island from the inhabited part and three men of the six hiked overland to the other side where help was finally secured and all of the members of the crew were rescued.  Not one man died on the trek.

A map of the course of travel is here.   A Wikipedia article about the expedition is here, a bio of Sir Ernest Shackleton is here, and a short about the voyage of the James Caird is here.  The James Caird was the name of the life boat that was modified for the trip from Elephant Island to South Georgia Island.  

What continued to strike me as I read the book was just how blessed the explorers were and the impact of Sir Ernest Shackleton on the whole venture.

Sir Ernest Shackleton was optimistic and positive the entire time.  He watched his men carefully for signs of illness and other problems that arose over the course of the venture.  There are two events that bear scrutiny in particular.

Some background: I believe in goal setting, optimism, the power of attraction, and listening to the inner voice.  By a focused effort in a righteous goal, you will be blessed with good timing and the ability to realize your goals.

When Shackleton decided to leave Elephant Island to get help, he started organizing and working and departed as soon as practicable.  He left and just one day later the area was iced in and it would have been impossible for the James Caird to depart successfully.  The timing and effort were perfect and the effort was a success.  In the course of 16 days, the navigator was only able to get a handful of observations with a sextant to determine their position and location.  They were blessed to find the island.

The other event was the overland trek on South Georgia Island.  The men were more or less pinned down on the beach and unable to go futher and Shackleton decided to go over mountainous and glacier ridden land to the sea port on the other side to get assistance from whaling vessles and crews.  They left as soon as they could from their base camp and hiked for about 36 hours non stop to make it over the island.  Just a few hours after they safely made it to the harbor and got help, a winter storm blew in that would have been the end for this very desperate group of men.

Shackleton’s optimism, faith, determination, and ability to work carried the day.

One man can make a difference and for very good  purposes too.  I have a new hero.

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