4th January 2016

Tuesday, January 5, 2016, 16:19
4th January 2016 – all expedition members have now returned to the UK, the blog will be officially closed, but it will be updated as and when they are available so that we have a record. Tim Holmes has asked me to pass on his thanks on behalf of all the expedition members to everyone who has followed the blog and who have been interested in what the expedition has sought to achieve by way of the commemoration and the digitisation of Wordie's diary.
The team are able to say that they are very pleased to have been able to achieve their ultimate objective of reaching the South Pole and to commemorate those events 100 years ago. All have said that it was a much tougher challenge than they envisaged, in terms of physical hardship. The very cold temperatures, and on one day, extreme wind chill certainly gave a good idea of what it would have been like for those explorers and indeed others to have battled through to Antarctica one hundred years ago. Tim has also asked us to post a thank-you to all those who have been involved in making the expedition a success, particularly David Hempleman-Adams who led the expedition, and his team, involving Nicky Webster at Cold Climates, to Runa Gujlnes for his part in being his Deputy Leader and setting the pace. Apparently his two minutes call was a legendary call to get ready to start pulling sledges for the next fifty minutes; to Tim Fortman-King who was the third Leader. Finally a big thank you to the many friends who have supported the members. Thank you also to staff and Directors of ALE, who, despite the poor weather, made every attempt to make sure the logistics worked as planned.

The website will keep an update on other activities during the commemoration of the Centenary during 1916 and, in particular, the handover of the digitised diary to the Scott Polar Research Institute at St John's College. We are pleased to say that the expedition managed to raise over £25,000 to digitise Wordie's diaries and the family are sorting out the final arrangements for a hand-over in the next months. This will mean that Wordie's diary and the historical information will be made available to historians, scientists and anyone else interested in that era of Antarctic history; a fitting legacy for the expedition. Watch this space for updates.

Tim has also asked me to post a thank-you to Robert Altham for managing the web-site, dealing with phone calls at all hours and for running photographs and information of interest to the web-site, particularly during those times when the expedition was held at "Patience Camp" either at Punt Arenas or on Antarctica.


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On Friday January 22, 2016 as many of you know Henry Worsley, a distant descendant of Frank Worsley the Captain of the Endurance sent a message via satellite from his tent having walked 913 miles over 70 days on his own and unaided in his quest to cross the Antarctic on the route Shackleton intended. Worsley was 30 miles away from his finish line, but he was snowbound by a blizzard's whiteout and by exhaustion.

"When my hero Ernest Shackleton was 97 miles from the South Pole on the morning of January 9 1909, he said he had shot his bolt," Worsley said in his final dispatch before he called for an airlift. "Well today, I have to inform you with some sadness that I too have shot my bolt."

The airlift was successful. Three days later however Worsley died at a hospital in Punta Arenas, Chile from peritonitis, an infection of the abdominal wall. His expedition, shackletonsolo.org, has raised over £100,000 for British war veterans..

Many of the Endurance South Pole 100 expedition knew Henry and one member had served in the Army with him. He had been a real font of knowledge in planning the expedition and making siure we did something worthwhile and create legacy. He was giving us valuable advice at the end of October from his "Patience Camp " in Punta Arenas and allway s made time to help. An extract from one email was

"Be prepared for the cold and effects of altitude when you get out of the plane at your start point.
And expect a slow accumulation of miles covered each day until you have all acclimatised a bit.
Some will be affected much more than others and you will have to go at the speed of the slowest ship in your convoy"
.
His compassionate advice proved very valuable as we struggled with the cold and wind in our attempt to walk just a short part of the route to the South Pole that Shackleton would have travelled 100 years earlier.
We spoke to Henry on a satellite phone from Union Glacier in early December and wished him well.. he was cheery and optimistic despite finding it very hard and unbearably slow as he skied up to the Polar Plateau in some very unseasonal snowy conditions
Many of us followed his blog with interest and admiration. We realised from the efforts we were making in a much smaller endeavour that what Henry was doing was a massive feat, and to get so far is to be commended

It was fitting that on Day 61, Henry invoked Tennyson's line in that old motto of British exploration and heroic endeavours.
"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield," he said in an increasingly raspy, thin voice.
That line of poetry captures the will and courage to endure the unendurable. Shackleton was a man who sought glory and legacy but discovered true heroism by saving all the lives of the "Endurance" crew. That has always been the lesson and the poetry of Shackleton's "Endurance" for many.

Frank Worsley had some poet in him, too. His wonderful book, "Shackleton's Boat Journey," ended by saying of Shackleton, "It seemed to me that among all his achievements, great as they were, his one failure was the most glorious."

"My summit is just out of reach," Henry said in his final dispatch.

Perhaps not: We can wish that a bit of Shackleton's true glory can be part of the legacy of Henry Worsley, 1960-2016

We will remember him for his help in planning our expedition, his advice to create a worthwhile legacy and his optimism that we would get likeminded people together to make it all happen. It was really appreciated.







One hundred years on , you would think that there is little more left to say about the Imperial Trans Antarctic Expedition. Over the years, volumes have been written about what is now one of the most famous events in polar exploration. as well as films, television dramas and even an opera.
Then, a new voice is heard . James Wordie was the quiet man of Shackleton's crew.  A thoughtful, studious scientist, with  a dry Scottish wit, he doesn't feature much in the literature . Yet he was  there through it all in the background, just diligently getting on with his work.
Now though his voice can be heard. For the first time, his complete personal diaries of those dramatic times will be made available.  
It was customary for all senior members of an expedition to keep a jounal of their adventures and  work. This would be handed in at the end, so the expedition leader could write up the official account. In this case, Shackleton, and the publication of 'South'.
When 'Endurance' was abandoned, the diaries went with the crew on their dramatic journey. Researchers from all disciplines can thus read the journals of Shackleton, James, Hurley, Orde-Lees and the others. Each gives a different, personal insight into the expedition and its fate. But one of the main scientific voices is silent. That of James Wordie, the ship's geologist. 
Wordie was a conscientious writer and recorder of data. His diary includes unique information about experiments and samples taken during the voyage.  His illustrations and  navigation records could be used alongside other sources, to verify and shed new light on their jouney.
Making available his complete diaries for the first time is thus an historic and exciting step for all those interested in the Endurance and its crew.
Working with the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) , the descendents of James Wordie are now exploring the best ways of digitising the diaries.  
The 2015 expedition , and related events, such as the commemorative dinner at St.Johns College in May 2015, are raising funds to enable this to happen.
The quiet man might soon break his silence.

 

David Crichton Henry , April 2015.

Part of the team have been training in Eastern Greenland during the Easter Holidays.
See the photos on the Galllery pages. Other Photos are on the Team Dropbox files.

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