set sail on Aug. 1

Photo Of The Day

The Return of the Sun "Extremely heavy precipitation of rime crystals during the night, our rigging being heavily encrusted some of the ropes being over 3" in diameter, but the effect is beautiful" Hurley Diary. Shackleton aimed to make the first-ever land crossing of the Antarctic continent, but his ship became trapped, then crushed and sunk, by ice before the team could reach their starting point for the trek. Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-17, led by Ernest Shackleton. (Photo by Frank Hurley/Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge/Getty Images)

The Return of the Sun “Extremely heavy precipitation of rime crystals during the night, our rigging being heavily encrusted some of the ropes being over 3″ in diameter, but the effect is beautiful”.  Photo by Frank Hurley/Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge/Getty Images.

The Endurance

Survival Against the Greatest Odds

When Antarctica’s hulking glacial landmass—icy and inhospitable—was spotted by 18th century British Captain James Cook, he remarked:

“I make bold to declare that the world will derive no benefit from it.”

 That proclamation did not ward away future journeys, though.

One hundred years ago, one of the most astounding tales of survival began aboard a small wooden ship with 28 men trapped in Antarctic ice.

A year and a half later, in August 1916, the details of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ordeal emerged — a story of a spectacular, yet triumphant, failure.

For the second time, Shackleton had failed to achieve his goal of reaching the South Pole. Yet, with his ship crushed, his men camped on ice floes and then marooned on a barren island, he managed to sail 800 nautical miles (1,475 kilometres) in a small boat, in winter, to get help. Not a single life was lost, cementing his reputation as a man of boundless courage and one of the greatest leaders of all time.

Shackleton set sail on Aug. 1, 1914, the day England declared war on Germany. The British Admiralty let him go, expecting the war to be over by Christmas. When Shackleton returned, the world no longer cared about gentlemen adventurers and their polar dalliances. It seemed trivial when set against death on an unimaginable scale on the battlefields of Europe.

Shackleton was naturally gifted in the traits that make leaders. Much of it for him was instinct.

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