An Exhibition in Faith, the story of Ernest Shackleton. by Dan Green
On August 1, 1914 sir Ernest Shackleton set sail with a crew of 28 on an exhibition to the Antarctic.
The goal of their expedition was to cross the Antarctic on foot —something never done before. Shackleton
was a successful and highly respected explorer known for his faith, determination and conviction.
He was knighted for his successful exhibition to Antarctica in 1907-09. In order to recruit his crew
of 28 he took applications from 5,000 men. It's been told that he placed the following ad in a London
newspaper to attract the applicants:
Clearly he was looking for a very special type of person; the word grit comes to mind.
This expedition was going to be different than any other one that Shackleton had led. Five months into
the expedition their ship, the Endurance, became stuck in the heavy ice flows near Antarctica. This was not
an uncommon circumstance in the thick icy waters. Shackleton believed that the ice would eventually recede like
other times and free the ship. His focus was on the exhibition and he held fast on that course. However, over
the next three weeks the ship became solidly frozen in the ice. Attempts to free the ship were futile.
At the end of February, 1915, the crew prepared the ship to become their camp for the remainder of winter.
At this point, Shackleton abandoned his primary goal for the exhibition and turned his focus towards returning
to England. His expedition had become a rescue mission. By October, eight months after being stuck, the
pressure created by the ice finally took its toll on the Endurance. the ship began to come apart and sink,
making it uninhabitable. the order to abandon ship was given and the entire crew began to salvage as many
supplies as they could. they took the sled dogs, food, gear and three lifeboats and moved their camp to the
ice flow next to their sinking ship. the temperatures were brutal, settling around -15°F on an average day.
For the next five months the exhibition camped on the ice flow surviving on what little food they had left.
In April the ice flow they were camped on began to break apart. Shackleton ordered the crew to take only
essential supplies and board the life boats. they fled the disintegrating ice flow and traveled seven days
by sea to Elephant island. Elephant island was a barren place to be stranded, made up mostly of rock covered
snow with temperatures consistently below -20°. For the next nine months, under Shackleton’s leadership,
the broken expedition remained loyal, optimistic, focused and faithful to their leader’s belief that they
Ultimately, Shackleton knew that their survival depended upon his ability to reach a whaling outpost more than
800 nautical miles across the most treacherous ocean seas in the world. Determined to save his crew, Shackleton
set out in one of the lifeboats with five crew members to make the journey. the odds of success were at best 1 in 100.
In what is widely regarded as on of the greatest nautical journeys in maritime history, Shackleton successfully
landed on South Georgia Island. However, another adventure within an adventured then occurred. They landed on the side of
the island opposite of the outpost. They would have to cross treacherous frozen mountains in order to reach the
outpost. Eighty years later, a team of professional climbers using modern day gear attempted to retrace
Shackleton's footsteps. At break neck speed, this team covered the trail in 48 hours. Shackleton covered the same
ground, under the same conditions in 24 hours!
From this outpost Ernest planned the rescue mission. However, bad weather conditions prohibited safe passage until
4 months later. On August 30, 1916 after 22 months of being trapped on an ice flow, after living on a barren rock
in sub zero temperatures, the crew of the Endurance was rescued. All twenty eight crew members survived the ordeal and
largely credited the strong faith of their leader as the catalyst in their survival.