Shackleton’s evil ice scuppers hopes of finding Endurance

From The Times


On November 21, 1915, Ernest Shackleton left Endurance for the last time and watched as his ship — his only refuge in the bleakest spot in the world — was slowly crushed by the Antarctic floes.

“Huge blocks of ice, weighing many tons, were lifted into the air and tossed aside as other masses rose beneath them,” he wrote. “We were helpless intruders in a strange world, our lives dependent upon the play of grim elementary forces that made a mock of our puny efforts.”

Over a century later, grim elementary forces continue to mock those who venture to the bottom of the world. The team seeking the final resting place of Endurance has given up, defeated once again by Shackleton’s “evil ice”. In a statement yesterday, the expedition said that after losing one submersible to the sea ice, and amid the risk of their own ship being caught in the same floes that doomed the Endurance, they had decided to abort.

Mensun Bound, director of exploration on the expedition, said that over the course of the search he came to appreciate how he and Shackleton shared the same implacable enemy.
“It all comes down to ice, ice, ice and more ice,” he told The Times, speaking from his research vessel. “A massive jigsaw of it is always shifting and mutating as well as expanding and contracting with the tide. Even for a ship like this it is a struggle, charging, reversing, charging again. And we have been caught in its embrace.”

Read the full article at The Times

I consider Ernest Shackleton to be one of the all time bad asses in history.  The loss of The Endurance during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition is an amazing story of courage, leadership, and endurance.  Stuck overwintering in Antarctica and didn’t lose a single member of the crew.

Further reading.

South: the story of Shackleton’s 1914–1917 expedition at Project Gutenberg by Sir Ernest Shackleton

And here is a picture I took of the HMS Endurance’s namesake back in 1993 sailing near the Antarctic Peninsula~ctm

HT/Wayne T

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Sweet Old Bob
February 15, 2019 6:05 pm

But …but… Global Warming !
Why hasn’t the ice all melted !

Charles Higley
Reply to  Sweet Old Bob
February 15, 2019 6:43 pm

You have to understand that ice in a warmer world is just as cold and unyielding and even in greater abundance as the warmth of the world runs and hides in the deep ocean waters, fallaciously making the world appear colder. One has to understand the spurious and rapacious movements of heat according to uber-leftist gods.

Gerald Machnee
Reply to  Sweet Old Bob
February 15, 2019 9:14 pm


February 15, 2019 6:08 pm

Amateurs! Where is Chris Turney when you need him.

Reply to  Steve
February 18, 2019 10:55 am

He’s probably trying to raise money for another ship of fools expedition

February 15, 2019 6:15 pm

“And here is a picture I took of the HMS Endurance’s namesake back in 1993 sailing near the Antarctic Peninsula~ctm”

…now that is cool!

February 15, 2019 6:23 pm


The Infallible Climate Models, Greatest Evha Created indicated there is NO ice! Yet, the cowards coward from the Horrific images within their minds, their minds alone, their own Phantasmagoria.

Ha ha. 😀

Gary Pearse
Reply to  JBom
February 15, 2019 7:20 pm

JBom: ‘cowards’and ‘cowered’ …yeah English is an explosion in an alphabet soup factory.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Gary Pearse
February 16, 2019 1:52 pm

It’s reaky because everyone decided to come and beat up tge English and so many stayed on. The Scotts were tougher, and the Welsh, we’ll the less said the better. All that singing probably drove invaders away…

Duncan Smith
February 15, 2019 6:26 pm

The sea ice expanse is the same, just thinner, more dagger like, honed like a Samurai Sword, cutting through ship hauls at will, hot oceans have made ice sharper, yes, ship will be obsolete in 50 years, it’s worse than we thought. Up next, Penguins decapitated by…..

Reply to  Duncan Smith
February 16, 2019 1:48 pm

ship hauls

Otherwise known as cargo?

Joe Sleator
Reply to  MarkW
February 17, 2019 2:01 am

Ship HULLS. He means hulls. Probably using speech-to-text without a proofread to make sure it’s not peppered with homophones.

Donald Kasper
February 15, 2019 6:31 pm

You explore the whole shelf by submarine and don’t come up.

Phil Rae
February 15, 2019 6:39 pm

If you haven’t read “South” the story of the ill-fated expedition and the almost unbelievable grit and determination of Shackleton and his men in their struggle for survival, you should go buy a copy right now. The leadership and unbelievable feats of seamanship and navigation are heroic beyond belief. The crew’s faith in Shackleton to rescue them and his personal devotion to his men are the stuff of legend. Incredible!

Mike of the North
Reply to  Phil Rae
February 15, 2019 6:52 pm

Also a great read is “The Antarctic Exploration Anthology” with the accounts of Shackleton, Scott, Amundsen and Mawson. It’s a bit more mundane than “Endurance” but really gets into a lot of the science data they collected and the conditions they endured. Not many people left like that, I’m afraid.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Mike of the North
February 15, 2019 7:22 pm

Yeah old white guys are something awesome.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Mike of the North
February 15, 2019 7:39 pm

Many of those young men on the expedition would have ended up in the trenches of the Western Front in 1914-1916, and then forgotten as one of the many hundreds of thousands dead. Two the Endurance went on to die in 1917-18 on the Western Front anyways, and a third died in the Mediterranean of typhoid serving in the war.

Reply to  Mike of the North
February 16, 2019 5:41 am

Another great read – albeit in slightly archaic language is Willem Barentsz account of his expeditions into the Arctic in 1594, 1595 and 1596 in search of a north-eastern passage. In the final voyage his ships became trapped in the ice, so he and his crew were forced to overwinter in the Artic before escaping in small open boats the following spring. Epic stuff !

Reply to  Martin
February 16, 2019 9:48 am

… and don’t forget Jack London’s 1908 short story, “To Build a Fire.”

Reply to  Phil Rae
February 15, 2019 6:58 pm

+1. They made a documentary a few years ago about the crossing from Elephant Island to South Georgia. Recreated it as best they could — even down to the same clothing Shackleton wore. One person managed to complete the journey like that — the others had to resort to modern-day thermal wear.

David Guy-Johnson
Reply to  Phil Rae
February 15, 2019 11:50 pm

Phil. Yes, it’s an incredible read. As is Apsley Cherry-Gerard’s book The Worst Journey in the World. His account of what he suffered on a winter expedition to find a certain species of penguin eggs with a couple of other members of Scott’s party, Wilson was one I think, beggars belief. They were tough cookies.

Reply to  David Guy-Johnson
February 16, 2019 4:35 am

Oddly it is in that journey you may see the roots of Scots failure latter , Wilson may have already been burned-out before they set off . A lot of things went wrong , including the weather , and you can understand why scott wanted to take Wilson , but you can ask after the early experince if he should have .

Paul of Alexandria
Reply to  knr
February 16, 2019 12:18 pm

Read “The Last Place on Earth” by Roland Huntford
A detailed account of the Scott – Amundsen race.
And watch the PBS special. You get cold just reading it!
And Amundsen commented something to the effect of “Everywhere I went, Shackleton has been there first” except, of course, for the inner Antarctic itself.

February 15, 2019 6:43 pm

One of the greatest stories ever told. PBS Shackelton’s Voyage of Endurance. Watch it here on You Tube.

Larry Hamlin
February 15, 2019 6:53 pm

On a trip to Antarctica years ago we cruised by and saw the tiny strip of land on Elephant Island where Shackleton’s crew survived until his heroic efforts led to their rescue. It is hard to imagine the harsh conditions they endured and how he and his crew managed to survive.

Joel O'Bryan
February 15, 2019 7:26 pm

What is not mentioned in this short piece is the HMS Endurance is at the bottom of a nearly 3,000 meter water column. The Weddell Sea is not merely some close shore, shallow bay. A water column that has a surface layer of shifting ice that can crush normal ships. The ice breaker S.A. Agulhas II is a South African modern ice breaker built in 2012 equipped with autonomous underwater vehicles. The AUV was lost in the search on Tuesday.

Read more here (free access):

As for the Hugin 6000 AUV they lost, read about it here:

and here:

or the pdf specs on the Hugin 6000:

It was not cheap to lose that AUV. A Lesson learned the hard way.

Crispin in Waterloo
February 15, 2019 7:47 pm

Losing a rover is a huge loss. It must have run out of power before then could forge their way to retrieve it. Maybe it got crushed against the ship.

They don’t let on how scary it was. If a modern vessel if being battered, it would have to be not just grim, but looking hopeless and a real danger of being locked in all winter.

Are we past the ice minimum? Isn’t that in perhaps three weeks?

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
February 15, 2019 7:59 pm

Antarctic Sea Ice minimum is mid February (i.e. now). They had arrow operating time window and are getting the hell out of there.

Andy Ogilvie
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
February 17, 2019 9:36 am

So despite “global warming/climate change” its still funking cold and the ice is at least as bad (or worse) than in 1914……..My head hurts, need another beer!

February 15, 2019 7:57 pm

Reading about that man’s exploits makes me feel like he was of a different species.
After everything he did, he insisted on getting into the Navy in WW I after he got back and rammed and sunk a German sub.
Today we would call it toxic masculinity. Then, it was just being a man.

David Guy-Johnson
Reply to  joel
February 15, 2019 11:46 pm

Joel, sadly ramming a submarine wasn’t one of Shackleton’s accomplishments. In 1918-19 he served in the army as a major fighting against the Bolsheviks in Russia.

Reply to  David Guy-Johnson
February 16, 2019 9:51 am

The story is told in the account by F.A. Worsley called Endurance: An Epic of Polar Adventure. He was speaking of himself, not Shackleton. It was a great post-adventure adventure.

February 15, 2019 8:30 pm

Today, February 15th, is his birthday. Born in 1874.

February 15, 2019 8:53 pm

Including the Endurance expedition Shackleton was a failure at every business scheme he encountered. His gold mining, transporting troops home from wars and stamp collecting — all ended in disarray. He left debts of more than $1 million in modern dollars.

His previous expeditions went like this. In 1901, Shackleton fell ill during the Discover expedition and was shipped home early.  In 1907 he led the Nimrod expedition and with the Pole 97 miles away, he made the decision to turn back and survived. Nothing wrong with that I guess

As for Shackleton not losing a man. Three men died in his last expedition . The expedition had 2 prongs. The Endurance ships prong ended with the ship crushed by ice and no deaths. But there was a 2nd prong on the other side of the continent that was responsible for the supply depots the expedition would need. Three men died after their ship blew out to sea and they were stranded. The entire expedition was FUBAR and conducted at a time his nation was at war, something known before he departed Buenos Aires for Antarctica

Phil Rae
Reply to  Pft
February 16, 2019 12:16 am


Nobody said Shackleton was perfect but his ability to inspire and lead his men despite their grim situation as well as his own courage and determination leading to their eventual rescue is a matter of record.

The expedition may have been ill-advised and poorly-timed with respect to the outbreak of WW1 but it certainly wasn’t an attempt to dodge military service (see below)

“Despite the outbreak of the First World War on 3 August 1914, Endurance was directed by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, to “proceed”, and left British waters on 8 August.”

Reply to  Pft
February 16, 2019 2:37 am

“Nothing wrong with that I guess”

It shows that he had a lot of moral courage. And in a way it makes him responsible for the death of Scott and his companions. Scott was obsessed by Shackleton and determined to beat him whatever the cost.

And if Shackleton hadn’t found and surveyed the best route over the Transantarctic Mountains up the Beardmore Glacier Scott quite possibly wouldn’t even have made it up to the high plateau. He did not have enough supplies to find a new route like Shackleton and Amundsen had.

Reply to  tty
February 16, 2019 8:59 am

“And in a way it makes him responsible for the death of Scott and his companions. Scott was obsessed by Shackleton and determined to beat him whatever the cost. ”

tty, sounds like the person “responsible for the death of Scott and his companions” was SCOTT. Scott was the one “determined to beat [Shackleton] whatever the cost,” even if the cost was the lives of his men. Scott was a arrogant idiot.

Reply to  Barbara
February 16, 2019 11:07 am

Indeed he was. That is why I said “in a way”.

The ironic thing is that Scott would only have had to make one phone call to cure most of the problems that beset his expedition. Frithiof Nansen was Norwegian Ambassador in London at the time. He was arguably the World’s second greatest Arctic Specialist (his Second in command during the first Fram Expedition, Sverdrup, being numero uno). Nansen would have been delighted to help Scott and his men to get ski training and learning how to use dog sleds as well as telling him what to eat to avoid scurvy (which Scandinavian expeditions had not had any problems with since the 1860’s). But Scott would do things the British way, using men and horses(!) to pull the sledges.

February 15, 2019 9:41 pm

So of the average temperature of Antarctica is -40 C if the earth warms by 2 C the average temp of Antarctica wold be -38 C.

in 100 years – Big whoop….!!!

Most unlikely BTW. It could be colder…

Reply to  Jon P Peterson
February 15, 2019 9:45 pm

…if the average Temperature…..

Alan Tomalty
February 15, 2019 10:15 pm

“It all comes down to ice, ice, ice and more ice,”

The global alarmist warmist bedwetters constantly tell us there won’t be any ice or snow left in the world. Some of them like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez says it will be in 12 years. Well, reality has it, that we have had ice on the planet for at least the last 50 million years because the earth has been cooling for that long. The Shackleton ship rescue expedition serves as a reminder that the Antarctic ice is not going away any time soon.

February 16, 2019 12:35 am

Miss Cortez is the best thing that could happen to get Pres. Trump for a second term.


Ivor Ward
February 16, 2019 12:40 am

The cat died. What kind of man let’s the expedition cat die?

Reply to  Ivor Ward
February 16, 2019 5:52 am

Obviously not a person from Michigan. We take pets (dogs) from all over, flying em in ( 🎵…from California . to the New York islands….this land was… )

February 16, 2019 2:25 am

One more group that actually believed that the Arctic/Antarctic is no longer arctic. There are quite a lot of them these days. About 40 ships and yachts tried the Northwest Passage last summer. Two made it, the fewest since 1991.

And I must admit I am not entirely immune myself. Before visiting Antarctica I had visualized it as rather like Greenland or Svalbard. A bit harsher of course but similar. Well, it isn’t. It is much, much worse. Svalbard is a Garden of Eden in comparison.

Incidentally South Georgia where Shackleton went to get help is rather similar to Svalbard. And that crossing of the Scotia Sea in an open boat must be one of the greatest feats of seamanship in history. And then they capped by making the first crossing ever of the heavily glacierized mountains of South Georgia.

Shackleton is buried in the old Norwegian cemetery at Grytviken in South Georgia where he died on a later expedition. I am normally not one for visiting graveyards but I went there to pay my respects when visiting Grytviken.

February 16, 2019 4:35 am

On that picture of a ship —
It looks like it’s had some averaging/infilling/homogenizing of the pixels so that we can see and extract so much more image information from it. 🙂

Reply to  tom0mason
February 16, 2019 9:53 am

Is is due to CO2 absorbing white color radiation and reemiting back to the nearest pixels.

It happens at high latitudes.

Reply to  Urederra
February 16, 2019 10:39 pm

lol 🙂

Mike Higton
February 16, 2019 4:54 am

“Scott for scientific method, Amundsen for speed and efficiency but when disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton”.
Tribute from Raymond Priestley, a member of the Nimrod and Terra Nova expeditions.

While the heroism of the English explorers is undoubted, the circumstances where it was needed was much their own fault, sadly. They were amateurs where Amundsen was a professional.

Reply to  Mike Higton
February 16, 2019 5:37 am

Amundsen was indeed a professional. He even stayed on a year extra at Gjöa harbor when going through the Northwest Passage to study how the Netsilingmiut survived and travelled in the high Arctic.

Reply to  tty
February 16, 2019 8:48 am

I think the true unsung hero to be Frank Wild, He went on five expeditions to Antarctica for which he was awarded the Polar Medal with four bars, one of only two men to be so honoured, the other being Ernest Joyce.

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