Episode 527: Ernest Shackleton: Life and Death at the South Pole
On this episode of the Sofa King Podcast, we talk about the life, adventures, and death of one of the UK’s greatest explorers, Ernest Shackleton. Shackleton was on a quest to be the first person to reach the south pole starting as a teen ager. He made several of the dangerous, years-long expeditions down there until he was able to command his own ship, the expedition. What happened on that voyage is one for the record and history books. For over 497 days, he and his crew were at sea, either on their ship which was frozen in ice or on life rafts. The most amazing thing is that he managed to save all 22 crew members and then went on to serve in WWI and try to go back to Pole yet again!
Ernest Shackleton was born in Ireland, and though his father wanted him to follow the family footsteps and become a physician, he didn’t. At age 16, his grades were good enough that he was able to be done with school and join the merchant marines. He skyrocket in rank due to his charisma, intelligence, and endurance. Eventually, he was placed on the ship called Discovery where he and Captain Scott traveled to the lowest latitude any human had reached. Shackleton fell ill, however, and the captain sent him home on a resupply ship, although his motivations for that are very much in question.
After several years, Shackleton was able to fund his own ship, the Endurance. The South Pole had already been reached by another explorer, but Shackleton decided his new quest was to cross the land mass of Antarctica. When they got there, they had a hard time establishing a base and soon found their ship frozen in an ice floe that would keep them in their grips until the following spring. By the time spring came, however, the pressures on the hull were too great, and the ship started to sink.
The men had to survive on life rafts and hopping from chunk of ice to chunk of ice for almost two years. Eventually, Shackleton was able to head out in a modified life raft and mount a rescue for everyone. He returned to England a hero, and immediately volunteered to join the Army to fight in WWI. He was sent as a diplomat instead and eventually found himself training British troops for war in Russia during the Russian Civil War. This man won every award an explorer could ever win and had a dedication to discovery that nobody could ever crush. If you want some inspiration, listen, laugh, learn.
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