American RadioWorks: Walking Out of History - The True Story of Shackleton's Endurance Expedition

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"Walking Out of History: The True Story of Shackleton's Endurance Expedition," an American RadioWorks documentary about Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance Antarctica expedition. MPR’s John Rabe presents various interviews, readings, sounds, and commentary.

Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.

Today is special broadcast of walking out of history is supported in part by Brit's Pub, and it's English Garden Park this summer presenting the comedy the complete works of Shakespeare information available at 612-332-1442. The story were going to tell you for the next hour is true. 28 men lost in Antarctica for almost two years fighting ice in the ocean the world gave them up for dead. But every one of them survived as fantastic as it sounds it's all true. It's the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton the endurance and the Imperial trans-antarctic expedition of 1914. I'm John Ray and this is walking out of History. Attitudes womb can the ice and the hoary Frost of Heaven who has gender did the waters are hit it with a stone and the face of the deep is frozen don't you know me I said, my name is Chuck Odum. The real blessing to Shackleton was a fact that his ship was crushed. The miracle was at all 27 men survived in the other man that the sky was cheering and then a moment later I realized what I'd seen was not a rift in the clouds, but the Pinecrest of an enormous wave has a codon it's got us. I started to reread his accounts of the endurance Expedition because it was just his leadership qualities that I was trying to learn from for a scientific discovery. Give me Scott for Speed and efficiency give me amundsen but when you're in a hopeless case and disaster strikes get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton and then an exultant shout their all their Skipper. They're all safe check out and stood up in his vows crying out to why are you all well which one? We had pierce the veneer of outside things. We had suffered starved and Triumph Robert down yet grasp the glory room bigger in the business of the whole. We'd seen God in his Spenders heard the text that nature renders. We had reached the naked soul of man. When we hear about an airliner going down or cruise ship sinking or mountaineering team caught in an avalanche. We all have the same reaction response that goes beyond sadness or sympathy or something more. I think we all want to hear that at least some of the people didn't die after all we want to turn on the radio and hear the newscaster say miraculously a dozen passengers of the down jet clung to debris and managed to hang on until the rescue ship arrived. We want to hear about the Plucky mountain climbers who huddle together for warmth in a snow cave and ate Hershey bars to survive and we want to see them worn out but alive on the evening news after they make their way to Safety in 1916 World worn down by world war was treated to just such a story. On June 2nd, 1916 almost lost and all the news from the front readers of the times of London picked up the paper and learn of a miracle. So he's Shackleton safe marooned men in danger of starvation the king yesterday sent a gracious message to Sir Ernest Shackleton on his wonderful Journey. The men of the endurance have been lost in Antarctica for the better part of two years by the time the story ran in the paper. Everyone had assumed they were dead as one scholar put it when they re emerged in 1960 and it was as if they were walking out of History. Sir, Ernest shackleton's wonderful Journey set out with these intentions collecting valuable scientific information and re-establishing Britain's exploring Glory as Shackleton the native Irishman explained in South his Memoir the endurance Expedition after the conquest of the South Pole amundsen there remained but one great main objective is the crossing of the South Pole a continent from sea to Sea. After hearing of the Norwegian success, I began to make preparations to start the last great journey, so that the first crossing of the last continent should be achieved by a British Expedition. Modern polar Explorer will stieger has read and reread shackleton's books and journals shackle. It definitely was the man at the early Century to 2%. If there was anyone that could do it. I think forgets that Shackleton got within 90 miles of the South Pole five or six years before we're Scott. He actually trouble of some of the men that were on on the same Expedition on the endurance. So he was his it as an organizer is a person that could get the funds together and Lead an expedition and draw the respect from his men. He was really the person of that era for a man who excelled at Adventure. Organizing big projects, but found ordinary life difficult to handle Ernest Shackleton was born into the ideal age. The beginning of the twentieth century was a Heyday of polar exploration and took a boat through the almost mythical Northwest Passage. Cook raise for the North Pole and amundsen again and Scott race for the South it wasn't easy, but you could be an Explorer simple. By making it to an unknown place. You didn't have to make your goal under some permutation of hardship to make it into the record books in these years before cruise ship tours to Antarctica, man was still testing his limits against the natural world and explorers were the astronauts of the era in 1922 in the worst journey in the world has book about the June Scott Expedition apsley cherry-garrard rights, even though the Antarctic is to the rest of the earth as the Abode of the Gods was to the ancient Kelly's a precipitous of Mammoth land line far beyond the Seas which encircled men's habitation. Nothing is more striking about the expiration of the Southern polar regions than its absence for when King Alfred reigned in England. The Vikings were navigating the ice fields of the north yet. When the Wellington fought the Battle of Waterloo, there was still an Undiscovered continent in the south. Nations took pride in having their explorers be the first to the new lands, but there were also big holes in the atlas isn't scientific journals of the day. So Expeditions brought along geologist glaciologist zoologist biologist and meteorologist were kept busy every mile of every trip in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, which was actually aboard the endurance their pages and pages on Polar Exploration with the map of the Antarctic interior is virtually blank and then like almonds and Scott and Shackleton long to fill it up or in the words of one of shackleton's favorite Robert service. They long to Mark the maps void spaces. Shackleton got his training in the British Merchant Navy when he was in his mid-eighties Pierce told the BBC the future sir Ernest was a blend of hard-working sailor and literate romantic. Really Russian X shuichi on Jackie was stowed away and he's coming with his boots. He was full of poetry and could quote it by the yard. The other issues to say over shocks busy with these boots but hums UT you resolve it was first hooked it again before the other buyers Generations cultures and Miles Away polar Explorer and Bancroft draw strength from Shackleton. Every time she heads out on a new Expedition Bancroft was the first woman to reach both the North and South Poles when she was a kid. She read about Shackleton and went back to his story before leading her own team of Four Women in an attempt to cross the continent that farted Shackleton reported her to know I related so much to Shackleton. Obviously I had read just about everything there is to read about polar Expeditions before the Antarctic trip in 92 93 and Shackleton for me is not only been the Catalyst for thinking about Antarctica as a young person but I started to re-read his accounts of the endurance Expedition because it was just his leadership qualities that I was trying to learn from by 1914 when Shackleton was 40 years old. He'd already been to Antarctica. Twice went with Scott and 1901 and he let another Expedition himself in 1907 on the first trip. He was sent home with scurvy on the second. He made it to 88 degrees south known an Explorer shorthand as farthest South before he had to turn back Shackleton turn back because even though he was less than a hundred miles from the pole pushing on would have probably killed one or more of his team. It was typical of him to put the safety of his men had of the chance for immortality is the discoverer of the South Pole his men might sometimes call him sir Ernest but more often it was simply and admiringly the boss. Endurance collar Caroline Alexander says they had a saying about Sir Ernest by scientific discovery. Give me Scott for Speed and efficiency. Give me amundsen. But when you're in a hopeless case and disaster strikes get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton. This is not to say that Shackleton was a soft touch the Redman Hillary who is Tenzing Norgay conquered Mount Everest 1953 is another admirer. He says Shackleton could overcome appalling circumstances because he could really read his men and adapters reaction. Unlike the rigid Scott Hillary made friends with an old sailor who served was Shackleton and Scott in 1901 and the old man told him this story 1 Merchant Seaman in particular was most reluctant to accept orders and was regarded as a very bad influence on the rest of the crew Captain Scott decided that he would have to be sent back on the first relief vessel. The Scott absolute astonishment the semen refuse to be repatriated if signed a contract and new is right. He was staying on to the end of the Expedition whatever Scott might think then Shackleton ask permission to deal with the problem and calmly informed the semen that he was returning to Britain the man insolently disagreed. So Shackleton a powerful man step forward and knock him to the deck the man Rose slowly do was feed and Shackleton gave him his instructions. Once again, someone more slowly and much less arrogantly the man refused. Once again, the man was flattened by a mighty blow when he got up this time and realize that Shackleton was prepared to carry on the procedure indefinitely. He was happy to agree to an immediate departure summer 1914 Roald amundsen at reach the South Pole three years earlier being Robert Scott froze to death on the return trip. The world was just about to enter what Shackleton called the red horror of war. Shackleton was ready to begin what he'd call the white Warfare of the South. Where is the salt in the last continent Shackleton hand-picked a crew of twenty six Sailors and scientists take them not just for their experience at sea or in polar exploration, but for their Spirit you apparently simply like the looks of Captain Frank. Where is Lee and he asked another applicant this thing for him an eighteen-year-old stowaway brought the crew total 227 putting the full complement at 28 with Shackleton. This is Hollywood cast in going out and getting sort of 28 ready-made Heroes who are all going to go in together on a mission. These were you know a shy scientist straight out of Cambridge a young stowaway handful of tough Sailors who toughest they were had never plan to spend any time on the ice of Antarctica brought 60 dogs aboard sturdy mutts read for strength the name for the English schools that contributed to the Expedition. We had worked out details of distances courses stores required and so forth the dogs get promise after training of being able to cover a 15 to 20 miles a day. Hey, what's loaded stages? The Transcontinental Journey at this rate should be completed in 120 days. Unless some unforeseen obstacle intervenes. We long for the day when we could begin this much the last great adventure in the history of South polar exploration of the obstacles that lay between us and our starting point served in patients. Most of the men of the Expedition Board of the endurance in London in early August 1914 and headed to Buenos Aires was Shackleton join the ship endurance left Argentina in late October and made for what Shackleton called the most southerly Outpost of the British Empire the mountainous in Glacier covered island of South Georgia a thousand miles east of the Falkland South. Georgia was discovered by Captain Cook and 1774 became a southern-based for sealers and Wailers. And if it wasn't the most luxurious Port of Call in the world, it was the natural point of embarkation for an expedition like shackleton's Shackleton's ship was different in at least one important respect and here's how I take a globe like this one and turn it so that you're looking down at the South Pole. I see how Antarctica is roughly circular and right there south of New Zealand. There's a giant indentation. That's the Ross sea, which is really a giant chef of ice the other major expedition to the South Pole including Scott's shackleton's in Ahmanson had been through this Inlet, but take your finger and move it to the other side of Antarctica aside the south of South America. Now, there's another wider than their that's the Weddell sea shackleton's Imperial trans-antarctic Expedition would try for vassal Bay on the Eastside of the Weddell and then go to the South Pole. Nobody done that Shackleton was to travel through almost totally virgin land. There's a great photo taken in south Georgia just before the endurance left for Vaso pay the day looks peaceful the men in the foreground look like Alpine day-trippers not men about to embark on the most remarkable survival journey in history in the endurance weight sleek and black in the harbor. She was Bill that would withstand. I switch was the special problem polar navigating today were used to Steel Hall ice breakers. But in those days the steel wasn't strong enough and the ice crush the metal Halls like a car tire flat in the Popcaan up to a point would can take it in his account of the endurance Expedition Alfred Lansing Rights was built in Norway by the famous polar shipbuilding firm, which four years have been constructing vessels for wailing and ceiling in the Arctic and Antarctic. However, when the builders came to the endurance, they realized that she might well be the last of her kind as indeed. She was and the ship became the yards Pet Project. Kerr construction was meticulously supervised by a master would ship Builder who insisted on employing men who are not only skilled shipwrights, but I've been to see themselves in wailing and sealing ships. They took a proprietary interest in the smallest details, they selected each Timber and plank individually with great care and fitted each to the closest tolerance by the time she was launched on December 17th 1912. She was the strongest wooden ship ever built in Norway and probably anywhere else the endurance set sail from South Georgia, December 5th, 1914 near the beginning of the Antarctic summer and in just two days, she encountered her mortal enemy the ice, which should come further north than anyone could remember Shackleton was worried. All the conditions are unfavorable. The Navigator's point of view. The winds are comparative enlightened consequently new eyes conform even in the summertime. The absence of strong winds at the additional effect of allowing the ice to cumulated masses undisturbed the strong currents pressing the ice masses against the coast. Heavier pressure than is found in any other part of the Antarctic. They made good progress for a while. At first they could break through the sheets of Pat guys, but the further south they got the less Cooperative the ice became until on January 18th, 1915. The endurance was good and stuck in the ice Shackleton writes the ice and closed around the ship during the night and no water could be seen in any direction from the deck. So I wasn't the death sentence it might seem to you and me ships have been stuck in the ice many times at both poles mother some were crushed or drifted for months or years many others made it out. So they hunkered down the ship was well appointed with food and diversions and by all accounts. The members of the Expedition kept themselves amused as they waited for the ship to be set free in 1957 able Seaman Walter how gave the BBC a cheery account of life in the immobilizer ship that activity is outside the optimism that still reigned offer citizen scientist in the rich. Rich by the way, what's a ship's hold which it been cleared and converted into warm living quarters? The fo'c'sle hands we were well enough to have a good stove. We will well fed everybody the same. We went out off to see you whenever we saw Andy and Penguins. Weird games of football on the ice and some of the officers had charge of dog teams and we're training them ready for the journey. Oh, no, the bus hasn't given up the idea of the journey across the Antarctic only postponed it but the problem wasn't being stuck in the ice. The problem was what the ice did to the ship think of the ice flows in the Weddell sea is tectonic plates in the endurance as a building on the fault line shipwrights have never done Sounder and better work. But how long could you continue to fight under such conditions? The vital question for us was whether or not the ice would open sufficiently to releases or at least give us a chance of release before the drift characters in the most dangerous area. There was no answer to be back from the silent Berg's and the grinding flows and we Face the month of October with anxious hearts. The endurance is beset in mid-January and has carried by the ice for more than half a year first the eye steaks or west for a few hundred miles then roughly North for another thousand. It's heartbreaking to read the accounts time. And again Shackleton the crew try to get out try to follow a crack in the ice, but can't time and again, they get their hopes up with L Escape time and again men go out on the ice and try to physically chop and pry a path for their ship. But the ice is just too thick to add insult to injury when they first got stuck. They were just a day or two sailing from fossil Bay where they'd hoped tool and all the while is there carried in the ice. The pressure on her is building the Timbers are creaking and groaning emitting. What sounds like pistol shots and she begins to leak badly October 26th. A strange occurrence was a sudden appearance of H emperor penguins from a crack 100 yards away at the moment when the pressure on the ship was at the climax. They will fill it away towards the haunted and after a few ordinary calls proceeded to other weird prize that sounded like a dirge for the ship. None of us had never before heard the Emperor or anything other than the most simple call Zach rise, and the effect of this concerted effort was almost for the Ancient Mariner the emperor penguins were Greek chorus telling Shackleton the end of the ship was a hand October 27th. Again, the pressure began at 5 p.m. I ordered all hands onto the ice. The twisting grinding flows were working there. Will it last on the ship was a sickening sensation to feel the decks breaking up under one's feet the great beams bending and then snapping with a noise like heavy gunfire. Just before leaving. I look down the engine room Skylight as I stood on the quivering deck and saw the engines dropping sideways as the stays in bed plates gave way. I cannot describe the impression of Relentless destruction that was forced upon me as I looked down and around the flows with the forces of millions of tons of moving ICE behind them, which simply and dilating vision. There will be no more cozy fires and dry bugs Shackleton is 27 men are now camped on the ice the same ice that slow their progress took them helplessly past their goal and then Crush their ship things look pretty bleak for the Imperial trans-antarctic Expedition at this point. You're probably thinking Shackleton is reach the ultimate Misfortune, but at the same time unbeknownst to the men of the endurance losing the ship may have actually been a stroke of good fortune. And here's why remember that Shackleton intended to cross Antarctica for the journey from the Weddell sea to the South Pole. He provide his own supplies for the second half of the journey from the South Pole to the Rossi. He kind of supplies laid out their party working concurrently on the other side of the continent this group sailing on the Aurora made it to the Ross sea and set up some of the supply caches but not all of them. And then the iStore the Aurora from its Moorings and dragged it for 315 days the Aurora finally, escaped and Back to New Zealand leaving a supply Mission incomplete polar Explorer will stieger who crossed Antarctica himself in 1990. The real blessing to Shackleton was a fact that his ship was crushed how the miracle was that all 27 men survived it knowing Shackleton you would have probably made the poor may be beyond that to a point where there was no retreat and he would probably would have found that you know, there's no snow supplies. No Cashes in his situation would have been even more impossible he and his men would have died. But this was before radio was fully developed and Shackleton had no idea what was going on with the Aurora all he knew that night. Was it as main bulwark Against The Killing ice had just been destroyed for myself. I could not sleep. The thoughts that came to me is I walked up and down in the darkness would not particularly cheerful. Task now is to secure the safety of the party and that I must spend all my energies and mental power and applied. Every bit of knowledge has experience of the Antarctica giving me. Task would like it to be long and strenuous and an ordered mind in a theater program. What is Central if we were to come through without loss of life. A man must shave himself to a new mock directly the old one goes to ground. Somehow Shackleton had to hold that group intact wizard of no physical structure to back him up no ship or building or hot to retreat to everybody was as it were naked on the ice him. Most of all endurance collar Caroline Alexander for those who analyze Shackleton the leader the five months the men spent on the ice are the most instructive. It's really the sense of his commanding presence that one gets even today just reading about it is clearly what he'll do men together shackleton's own hopes for Glory and successive being dashed. He knew he was going back to an uncertain future and to continually be interested in every single one of these men so does never throw a fit of pique never stamp off never bully or threatened but always be there for all of them always be there to sort of prevent any spark from catching a light was perhaps as much his genius of leadership as in being able to lead men across high seas, the crew abandoned ship in late October 1915 from then until early April 1916. They lived on the ice 5 months of what for most of us would be mine numbing tedium. But Shackleton kept them busy. They played football. He taught them to play bridge. They hunted killing countless seals and Penguins and as the Expedition meteorologist Leonard Hussey told the BBC they race their sled dogs cup, of course without bits of wood and the two teams wild in the end. He'll he started it was about seven hundred yards. Of course one man dressed. Okay, I will lay Bets with him across the Antarctica Lindsay is a chocolate off. The back of money is no good down there and we started off with a big face. Remove the whole length of the cost of the hardly see them in the darkness of the Antarctic midday and with a terrific finished Satan's team won from Samsung by Bob at 10. Don't think shackleton's men didn't realize they were very possibly doomed and that the boss is activities and intentions alone trick them into thinking they'd make it. This is 19:15 and death was no stranger to say another Adventures. But this was a Shackleton Expedition many jumped at the chance to serve with him literally thousands of men applied for positions on the endurance when for instance. The first cook was fired for drunkenness. They were instantly 20 applicants for the position his men new the saying when disaster strikes get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton. They took it seriously. They knew they were being led by a man who would do everything to give them every chance of survival than they knew that pessimism could only hurt them as seen in Walter how tall the BBC he was quickly the old always found a way out. That helps explain the cruise good cheer, but it doesn't explain how Shackleton managed to keep his cool. The simple answer might be that getting stuck in the ice wasn't the worst thing. He been through in his Memoir Shackleton mentions a good six months of what he calls me will work before the endurance expedition was even publicly announced by mule work. He means the drudgery of convincing people to contribute money and material to the Expedition fundraising. He planned you speeches books and photos to pay off the expedition's debt. Once he returned. He named the endurance lifeboats after major sponsors fundraising is extremely hard frustrating humiliating work and will stieger thinks there's no question it ready to Ernest for his Expeditions putting together a major Expedition. I don't think it's much different now than what it was a hundred years ago because you have to raise money and raising money is for me harder than the Expedition itself. Someone was just gave me the money and I did I was going to go to the North Pole. I don't think I would have succeeded. Because the raising of the money and that that whole segment of the Expedition retempered me, I learned it for 1 how to deal with stress and all the pressure of the media on top of you and if you collapse you're in big trouble so, you know you live in the here and now and you have to be real practical and have a lot of faith in yourself. This is walking out of history on John, Raby. By the way, if you are joining us later, we're going to be rebroadcast in walking out of history at 9 tonight. And you can also hear it at 3 tomorrow afternoon. So couple of opportunities to hear you're walking out of history. And also we invite you to take a look at to our website actual path of the endurance many many pictures of the actual Expedition that's on our website You're listening to walking out of History the true story of Sir Ernest shackleton's endurance Expedition. It's 1915 and 28 men are stranded on the ice of Antarctica their boats crushed and they have no hope of rescue. They had the best gear money could buy but it couldn't make them immune from the Antarctic weather ship's Captain Frank Worsley. Each successive frostbite on a finger was marked by a ring where the skin had peeled so that we could count our frostbite by the Rings after the method of a Woodman telling the age of a tree. I don't know why there isn't more Frostbite the winter issue for each man included to Yeager wolf shirts long underwear Shetland wool Mets and sweaters and Burberry pants and coats designed to be wind and waterproof. When they camped on the ice, they slept under thin tents and neither will a reindeer hide bags. No GPS or Gore-Tex drysuits for shackleton's men. But while Explorer and Bancroft isn't about to try a polar Trac and vintage gear. She thinks it's a mistake to put too much emphasis on the new and better equipment of today. I think what excites me about Antarctica and places like that that are so harsh. Is that even though there are huge differences certainly the technology of both clothing and gear the winds are the same and the storms are the same and the unpredictable nature of the continent is the same it hasn't gotten all that much easier. The biggest areas is the navigation now with our global Positioning Systems. It's much easier to do but if you follow any of the modern-day Expeditions that are going on at both ends of the globe right now as we speak, they're struggling. They're still dragging their sleds their sleds are made out of different material, but they're laboring with the same kinds of physical challenges ahead of them and not a whole lot has changed in that regard. So there's sort of a Poorly put it an equalizing force that nature provides just a few days after his ship was crushed shackles and began one of two aborted attempt to March the men toward safety, but they had to keep the ship three lifeboats with them and it proved impossible to drag them over the rough ice. The attempts were Valiant and before the first try Shackleton set a startling example when he ordered the men to Pare down their personal belongings out of the Bible the Queen Alexandra given to the ship with her own Rising it is and also the wonderful page of Joe containing the verse Out of whose womb can the ice and the holy Frost of Heaven who have gender did the waters are HID does with a stone and the face of the deep is frozen Shackleton threw away the rest of the Bible but Sailors are known to be superstitious and one of them retrieved and hit it not wanting to jinx their chances of Escape. One thing they did leave behind with a pile of glass. Let me explain if you only encounter this adventure in Alfred lansing's best-selling book endurance, you're missing an important part of the story the fact that you can see how it all happened from the first day at Sea to the triumphant return to the real world. You can see exactly what it all look like because Shackleton brought along the photographer Frank Hurley who shot hundreds of negatives and even some movie footage of the endurance the story of the endurance is so fantastic. It seems like it could only be fiction but seeing the pictures makes you realize these were real people this really happened and here's where that pile of glass comes in. Historian Caroline Alexander compiled the first comprehensive book of her lease photographs most of them printed from the glass negatives that were standard at that time. Alexander says that the photos exist is a miracle in itself. It's one of the great photo edits probably in history. Frank Hurley was the Australian photographer and when the ship went down he was resigned to losing all of his precious lost plate negatives. However, it appear that they were going to be camped on the ice floes for some time and after a sort of. Of some days he thought he would try and Salvage these actually against shackleton's orders because Shackleton has said that only the things they needed for survival should be kept with them and her lead oven to his submerged Arc room his feet held by one of the sailors. Is he sort of stumbled around in the water and he came up with a canister of his glass plate negatives and then Shackleton saw them and relented in the two men sat down on Ice together and selected the hundred and twenty images that they would keep and God with their lives essentially and the rest was smashed to pieces on the ice specific Place O'Hurley wouldn't try this stunt again. And there they are black girl with the ship's cat on his shoulder. Where is Lee got in the pilot through the ice lucky much younger than I imagined. There are the dogs pictures especially point because the men would eventually be forced to shoot them. And there is the endurance self dark and stately sailing free at first then imprisoned then crushed into a pile of lumber and see you at all after lingering on the surface the ruins of the ship finally sank beneath the ice on November 21st. 1915 is the ice took them North past the possible safety of Paula Thailand at the tip of the long arm of the Antarctic Peninsula. They needed the ice to start breaking up so they could use their lifeboats and that finally happened on April 9th. The big ice floe they were camping on got smaller. Turn smaller and began to break up dangerously Shackleton gave the order to man the boats 28 men in three lifeboats James caird The Dudley Docker and the stand Caldwell's they'd make for Elephant Island a chunk of rock less than a hundred miles away across a nasty patch of ocean. I'll tell you ahead of time. They're going to make it but given their chances. You shouldn't believe me. I was met the Widow of the doctor on the on the Expedition. I was with her and Antarctica Explorer will stieger paging through the new photo book. I was there when she said Asad Elephant Island for the first time. It's just very very emotional and her husband had suffered there so much when she knew she knew about Shackleton and they'll the whole whole crowd. She was very young when she married cuz this thing right there and he's he's in one of these pictures here and Elephant Island. This is just amazing. When you see this the beach at these guys lived on if you ever smelled penguin guano, it's just horrible horrible in Imagine these poor guys living there. No heating seal. MTG walrus mating little spit of sand waves Awash almost right from their case whitewash woman's way up to their camp. Greatest lights as desolate As Eva places you could find I think on the Earth. for most of the men of the endurance the seven days it took to self Elephant Island would be the most intensely difficult the entire Expedition the conditions were bitter the men were wet through they had little to drink eating became very hard if not impossible and for much of the trip, the three little boats had the thread their way among ice floes that could any moment catch and crush them or capsized and golf them in water a cold wet rotten night all hands wet and shivering with rain at first-hand snow showers 1 oil skin only in the docker no-sleep ship's Captain Frank Worsley retelling the story in his book shackleton's boat journey in spite of all the men inspired by Shackleton where magnificent their courage and humor came to the front when most needed It was well that they had been toughened untempered to hardness for this ordeal by the progressively severe conditions, which we had undergone since leaving civilization. Now that conditions were worse the men like true British seamen ceased complaining and said grin and Barrett growl and go Worsley. The count isn't entirely accurate one of them and wept openly in at one point Shackleton rights. I doubted if all the men would survive that night Shackleton was simply amazing. He stayed at the stern of his Lifeboat for all three days never sleeping the whole time. They finally landed on Elephant Island on April 15th 1916 at not set foot on Solid Ground for 497 days. The men have different reactions some played in the Pebbles many wandered aimlessly one man Took an Ax and killed seals. They can't for the night drink gallons of glacier water + 8 + 8 + 8 but even then there were deal wasn't over it became obvious. But this little spit of beach they landed on wouldn't be safe for the next day that had to load up all the boats again and move 7 miles down the coast. They were on dry land. But now what the outside world probably thought they were dead. And even if they didn't whoever look for them here, I vote journey in such a relief was necessary and must not be delayed. Confusion was forced upon me. It was not difficult to decide that South Georgia must be the objective the hazards of a boat journey across eight hundred miles of Stormy sub-antarctic ocean obvious. But I calculator that are the worst The Venture would add nothing to the risks of the man left on the island consideration that away with me was that there was no chance at all of any such being made for Us on Elephant Island the ship's Carpenter built up the James caird the best of the three lifeboats and stretch the canvas across the top kayak like to give some protection from the weather and so on April 24th. Began one of the most remarkable sea voyages ever undertaken 800 miles of the world's worst ocean in the double-masted 22-foot boat shackles and pick five men to go with him including the irrepressible Captain an expert Navigator Frank Worsley. From the day after leaving Elephant Island. We had being a competent at end of those by Albatross never seeming to rest week after week. He follows the sailing ship day after day. He followed our boat is poetic motion fascinated as the ease with which he swept the meiosis. I filled it with M V cheat code with a Southwest Gale have made our whole journey in 10 hours. Conditions aboard the cared where Bleek to say the least the men at the tiller at the rear of the ship could sit or stand up straight but was continually washed over by the cold saltwater. There was a little Shelter From the weather under the tarp stretched across the Lifeboat, but it wasn't waterproof and being under it was a little like being in one of those prison cells designed specifically to be too low to stand up and too short to lie down in + 2,000 pounds of ballast rocks dug into the men's knees elbows and fax the men slept in their wet clothes inside reindeer hide sleeping bags that have begun to write shed and stink. The first day at Sea was uneventful the six men in the care and sales and then rode until 10 at night when they got clear of the last ice State see on their way to South, Georgia. How'd we cleared the stream the wind shifted to the southeast our starboard quarter Ernest wise they wanted me to make Jew North to avoid the ice and get less rigid weather. He sent the others below to get some warmth and sleep in the reindeer skin bags while we kept a sharp lookout for ice. I steered he sat beside me. We snuggled close together for four by midnight. The sea was rising and every other wave that hit her came over watching us through and through cold and clear with the Southern Cross High overhead. We held her North by the Stars the swept in glittering per session over the Atlantic to wash the Pacific. While I steered his arm thrown over my shoulder we discussed plans & Beyond in low tones. We smoked all night. He rolled cigarettes for us both a job at which I was on Hyundai. I often recall with private affection memories of those hours with a great Soul Worsley Shackleton in the rest must have enjoyed this brief quiet time and is retelling of the endurance Voyage Alfred Lansing described for his readers. What Shackleton and his men Knew by heart the dangers of the stretch of the South Atlantic they were about to cross this then was the Drake Passage the most dreaded bit of ocean on the globe. And rightly. So hear Nature has been given a Proving Ground on which to demonstrate what she can do if left alone the results are impressive it begins with the there's an immense area of persistent low pressure in the vicinity of the Antarctic Circle it acts as a giant sump into which high pressure from farther north continually drains accompanied by almost ceaseless gale-force Westerly winds. The six men in their tiny boat weather Gales and dangerous ice buildup Worsley had the bases course and only a handful of fleeting glimpses of the hazy Sun so we couldn't even be sure he was heading them towards South Georgia. It could have been shooting them passed it to the open Atlantic and Asher death at Sea and there were always the waves the highest broadest on the longest swells in the world 400 thousand yards in a mile apart and find weather silent and stately. They pass along Rising 40 or 50 ft two more from Crush to Halo. They rage in a parent disorder during heavy Gales fast Clippers Loftus ships and small craft are tossed on their foaming snowy brows and stomped and battered by their owners feet. Once every 90 seconds or less the carriage sale would go slack as one of these gigantic waves luminous turn threatening Shirley to bury her under a hundred million tons of water, but then buy some phenomenon of buoyancy. She was lifted higher and higher up the face of the onrushing swell until she found herself rather unexpectedly caught in the turmoil of phone at the summit and hurtling for word over and over again a thousand times each day. This drama was re-enacted on the night of May 5th when they were finally within Striking Distance of South Georgia Island Shackleton was at the helm and his men were below sleeping at midnight. I was at the tiller and suddenly noticed a line of clear sky between the South and the Southwest I told you the other man that the sky was tearing and then a moment later. I realized what I had seen was not a rift in the clouds. But the white crest of an enormous wave 26 years experience of the ocean in all its moods. I have not encountered a wave so gigantic. It was a mighty upheaval of the ocean that thing quite apart from the big pipe cap sees that should be no stylist enemies for many days. I sharted for God's sake hold on. It's got us. Then came a moment of suspense that seem drawn out in 2 hours. I was crawling out of my bag is deceased Rucker's there was a roaring of water around and above us it was almost as though we had founded the boat seemed full of water. We other five men seized any receptacle we could find and pushed scooped and bailed the water out for dear life. While Shackleton held her up to the wind. We works like Madmen but for 5 minutes, it was uncertain whether we would succeed or not the men in the card never faced a way of that big again, but Alfred Lansing says it had a lasting effect. They've been beaten up by the ice the cold and the wet and now they were bullied and almost buried by this giant wave Lansing rice for 13 days that absorb everything the Drake Passage could throw at them and now by God they deserve to make it on May 8th at half past noon after 14 days at Sea. They finally sighted land just a glimpse through the clouds of the black clips of South Georgia. They were only a few miles away, but the waters were treacherous and they couldn't land the next morning still see off the island or hurricane stronger than any Shackleton had experienced hit them and almost tore up their Mast finally after two days of being teased with the promise of Refuge. They made it through the reefs in the breakers and landed. South Georgia, but they were on the wrong side of the island separated from stromness whaling station by glaciers and mountains. No one has ever crossed at the crow flies. It was 22 Mi they set up camp and recover their strength sleeping scouting the land and filling their bellies after 8 Days Shackleton Tom crean and Frank Worsley with screws set into the soles of their boots to give them some purchase on the ice set off leaving three crew members behind. Worsley Drew would he call the rough memory map their Trek across South Georgia snowfields glaciers mountains and crevasses his pencil line. Zig zags stops and retraces indicates where they literally slit on their butts down a Mountainside and shows their final descent to the whaling station through a waterfall Wesleyan. I lowered Tree in over the waterfall and he disappeared altogether in the phone in water and came out gasping at the bottom. I went next sliding down the rope. And what is Lee who was the largest most Nimble member of the party came last? At the bottom of the Fall we were able to stand again on dry land the Rope cannot be recovered with run down the ads from the top of the fall and also the log book and the cooker wrapped in one of our blouses. That was all except our wet clothes. We brought out of the Antarctic which we had entered a year-and-a-half before with well-found ship full equipment and high hopes episode of tangible things about in memories we were rich We had pierce the veneer of outside things. We had suffered starved and Triumph Robert down yet grasp the glory growing bigger in the business of the whole. We'd seen God in his Spenders heard the text that nature renders. We had reached the naked soul of man. They were filthy ragged and exhausted by their trip which an absolute terms now totaled exactly 0 miles from their starting point, but nature for all its harshness has is it Saving Grace? The fact that it doesn't know better. It's impersonal in the way. It hangs out punishment. But Shackleton and his men were now to enter again the world of man punishing and personal we came to the war for The Man In Charge stuck to his station. I asked him if mr. Shirley the manager was in the house. Yes. He said as he stared at us, we would like to see him I said, Who are you he asked we've lost our ship and come over the island. Replied. Mr. Surly came to the door and said well. Don't you know me I said, my name is Shackleton immediately put out his hand and said come in come in. Tell me when was the war over I asked. The war is not over millions of being killed Europe is mad the world is mad. In the evening, the manager told us Earnest. That's a number of old captains and sailors wish to speak to on shake hands with him and us. We went into a large low room full of captains and mates and sailors and hazy with tobacco smoke three or four white haired Veterans of the sea came forward one spoken North and the manager translated. He said he could be in that seat over 40 years that she knew this storm is Southern Ocean intimately from South Georgia to Cape Horn from Elephant Island to the South Harkness never thought he heard of such a wonderful Feats of Daring seamanship as bringing the 22 ft open bow boat from Elephant Island to South Georgia, and then to Crown it tramping across the ice and snow on Rocky Heights of the interior and that he felt it an honor to meet and shake hands with sir Ernest and his comrades He finished with a dramatic gesture. These are men. A ship went out immediately to rescue the men left on the other side of South Georgia. But the rescue of the men still on Elephant Island was to prove more problematic finding a suitable ship was hard because of the war but the weather didn't cooperate either three separate attempts about a month apart turn back because of ice around Elephant Island on August 25th. The yelcho a totally inappropriate little Chilean Tugboat set off. August 3019 16 4 months after the James caird left Elephant Island the yellow chill between stranded Berg's on hidden reefs Shackleton peered through his binoculars with painful anxiety. I heard his strange tones as he counted the figures that were crawling out from under the upturned boat 257 and then exultant shout their all their Skipper. They're all safe. His face lit up on years seem to fall off his age. We three sullenly shook hands and see if we were taking part in some ritual and Duran's meteorologist Leonard Hussey was one of the 22 man who lived on limpets and seal meat an elephant Island for 4 months and who could scarcely believe their eyes when they yell chew appeared on the horizon. That's how she told the BBC the rescue was still brighten his memory more than 40 years. Later. Call lunch time that must have been so I should be emerging from The Mist Of hung over the sea at first when mustard yellow the ship. We took no notice mistaking it for the much more customers call of lunch. Oh, it was not long. However before he came running up towards the breakfast as one man, we made a dive through the narrow door of the hot it was a scram There Was You couldn't get through the door went to the sides and I lunch precious little bit and seaweed waiting for distribution in the park with Kik that were in a rush who can it was a much better. Turn it to see a person gets a small ship flying the Chilean flag. We tried to share the excitement of gripped are vocal cords, make leather made a rush for the Flagstaff. The running gear wouldn't work on. The flag was first it was solid Mass. So he died is Jersey to the top of the pole for a signal to pick through a lost remaining ten of petrol and soaking mitson sucks and it tell them to the top of penguin Hill on soon. They were to blame then the ship stopped and we were able to recognize Shackleton is he got into town again? We gave a chair with more fitting from the Hopton I could express in words. We said to each other. Thank God the buses safe. When the boat was Worthen calling reach check out and stood up in his balls crying out to while you all well which one of them all well I must have given to the bus. They made it after a year and three quarters at the mercy of the elements all 28 men were safe and sound the worst casualty was frostbite that claimed a few toes from a foot of one of the man on elephant Island Shackleton called himself an Explorer yet a cynic my question how much of an Explorer he really was did he reach any of his goals know you got sick on one attempt to reach the South Pole and turn back the second time and the endurance Expedition never even touch the continent. He wanted to cross and Bancroft return back or self halfway through the same Journey Shackleton attempted says that's not the point. The exploration is is really about the attempt there were many explorers that didn't achieve all that they set out to do some are dead as a result of their trying I happen to be of the persuasion that believes that there is much more wisdom in knowing when to turn back and that there will be more to explore If we have that wisdom because we'll be able to go on and on and on if this is the first time you're hearing the story of the endurance. I think you're going to find yourself telling it to someone else pretty soon. It seems to be a universal Experience One scholar Caroline Alexander thinks she can explain by retelling it you can be the bearer of good news. Well, I think it is the real thing and that sounds very good thing to say, but I think it is the heroic Venture power excellence in the annals of all expeditionary literature. It isn't just about guys toughing it out. There's something in there that is ennobling somehow. It's men at the limit of his endurance and he comes through not just to live but somehow unsullied a mangled. There's nothing here to drag this down. It's 28 men. In the fight of their life against only nature who win and somehow come out of it and it makes you feel bigger for being part of it. Shackleton died of a heart attack January 4th 1922 was only 47. He died on South Georgia at the start of yet another Expedition. His wife Emily asked that he be buried on the island. His grave is still there. Frank Worsley is loyal follower and friend help barium 6 years later when looking at shackleton's grave under the Cairn which we his comrades directed to his memory on a Windswept Hill of South Georgia. I meditated on his great Deeds. It seems to me that among all his achievements and two triumphs great as they were. His one failure was the most glorious. By self-sacrifice and throwing his own life into the balance. He saved every one of his men not a life was lost. Although at times. It had looked unlikely. The one could be saved. One footnote to our story if Shackleton himself was never to successfully cross what he called the last continent his desire that it should be accomplished by a British expedition was realized but it wouldn't be until the late 1950s and then British scientist Vivian Fuchs needed motorized vehicles to make the track. Walking out of history is a Minnesota Public Radio production It Was Written produced and narrated by John R A B edited by Mike Edgerly Joe Dowling of the Guthrie Theater was Sir Ernest Shackleton Rodger prestwich was Captain Frank Worsley the additional reading by Eric Raynham and Michael Dennis Browne. Thanks to Stephanie Curtis. Tom crann and recs lavang recording engineer Greg thoreson technical help from Alan Strickland. Rosenberg is NPR's vice president of news and information publisher is Carolyn graph Norton and kanouff an agent Shield Landon Associates gave permission to use a standard excerpts from their books South by Ernest Shackleton shackleton's journey by Frank Worsley Endurance by Alfred Lansing the Endurance by Caroline Alexander and the worst journey in the world by apsley cherry-garrard archival sound from the BBC and special things to Will stieger and and bankrupt with this writing was planning a two-woman trek across Antarctica. For more information about walking out of history in a link to the new American Museum of Natural History endurance photo exhibit go to our website Thanks for listening. Hoping you'll catch yourself retelling the story of the endurance. I'm John, Raby. Today's special broadcast of walking out of history is supported in part by Brit's Pub, and it's English Garden Park this summer presenting the comedy the complete works of Shakespeare information available at 612-332-1442. By the way, we're going to be rebroadcasting John rabies. So special documentary walking out of history at 9 tonight, and if you can't listen tonight to him tomorrow afternoon 3 another rebroadcast heck of a story. That does it for midday today Monday. We're going to talk with Senator Rod grams at 11 and then over the noon hour David breashears at Westminster course, he's the climber author and award-winning Emmy award-winning cinematographer associated with Mount Everest that's on Monday during the day still want to be in the audience for A Prairie Home Companion this weekend, but didn't order your tickets while you might be in luck stop by the Fitzgerald Theater box office Saturday morning at 10 and get a number that holds your place in line for $10 Rush seats box office open Saturday morning at 10. You're listening to Minnesota Public Radio. We have a partly cloudy Sky 66° Ave. Kenner W FM 91.1 Minneapolis. And st. Paul should be partly cloudy all afternoon with a high reaching the mid-70s clear tonight with an overnight low in the low 50s tomorrow back under the under the rain again 40% chance for showers and thunder showers with high in the 70s.


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