Photo of Ernest Shackleton
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Public domain image from NOAA photo library
Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton was one of the famous explorers in the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. He was of English-Irish ancestry and was born in Ballitore, Ireland on February 15, 1874. Like Amundsen, he dropped out of college to go to sea against the wishes of his parents.
In 1901-1903, Shackleton participated in the National Antarctic Expedition, also known as the Discovery Expedition which was named after their ship. This expedition was led by Robert Scott. In 1907-1909, Shackleton organized his own expedition, called the Nimrod Expedition, to the South Pole. The explorers reached a point only 180 km from the South Pole but had to turn back due to harsh weather, lack of food and loss of ponies that the explorers had used for transport. However, they were the first men to cross the Trans-Antarctic mountain range and set foot on the South Polar Plateau. They also located the Magnetic South Pole. Shackleton returned to England a hero and was knighted.
Shackleton's most famous expedition was the Endurance Expedition in 1914-1916. It was planned to be an attempt to cross Antarctica from the Weddell Sea south of the Atlantic, to the Ross Sea south of the Pacific, by way of the Pole. But in the Weddell Sea their ship was trapped and then crushed by the ice. Shackleton and five other men managed to cross 800 miles of treacherous seas in a small boat and reach the whaling station on South Georgia island, from where Shackleton organized a rescue operation to bring home the remaining men. This amazing feat became a subject of numerous books and movies.
Shackleton died in 1922 during another Antarctic expedition and was buried on South Georgia island.
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