The history of the expedition
“Men wanted for hazardous journey.
Long months of complete darkness.
Safe return doubtful.
Honor and recognition in case of success.”
This was the advertisement used by Ernest Shackleton in 1913 to recruit the 27 members of his Endurance expedition. They hoped to become the first men to reach the South Pole. Shackleton sailed south with the Endurance, from England via Argentina, becoming trapped in the pack ice of the Southern Ocean in February 1915, enduring a winter without sunlight and braving violent storms and temperatures of minus 50 °C with no prospect of rescue. Shackleton was finally forced to abandon the ship and his plan for a Trans-Antarctic journey and to suddenly refocus the goal of the expedition on surviving. In the winter months, they crossed the frozen ice cover, pulling three 7-metre lifeboats with them. A year later, they reached the open sea again and rowed their lifeboats to Elephant Island, a barren island 1,500 kilometres from a whaling station on South Georgia that was only occasionally occupied.
Shackleton and four other men set off in an open boat in April 1916 knowing that the life of 28 men depended on the success of their journey. Thanks to the team’s exceptional physical and mental state and perfect navigation in the most difficult conditions, they reached South Georgia two weeks later, where they first had to negotiate a 1,000-metre high glacier before reaching the life-saving whaling station in a state of complete exhaustion.
Shackleton ultimately succeeded in bringing back all 28 men safe and sound. He is seen as one of the best “managers in special situations” that the world has ever seen, and the Endurance is considered the embodiment of solutions in “exceptional situations”.