To the End of the Earth
A modern-day explorer prepares for a historic adventure to Antarctica
PHOTO: Tim Jarvis will sail in a replica of Shackleton’s lifeboat. (www.timjarvis.org)
MAP: The journey will cover roughly 800 nautical miles and should take about two months. (Jim McMahon)
In 1916, British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton made one of the first trips to Antarctica and barely survived. Now an adventurer named Tim Jarvis has announced plans to re-create Shackleton’s dangerous journey next month, hoping to raise awareness about climate change.
Shackleton wanted to lead the first expedition across Antarctica, from the northern side to the south. But the adventure went off course when ice crushed his ship, and he and the crew had to fight their way back to civilization.
With nothing but a lifeboat and a small amount of food, Shackleton and 5 members of his 22-man crew sailed 800 nautical miles through icebergs and freezing conditions, from Antarctica’s Elephant Island to a whaling station on an island called South Georgia, off the continent’s coast. Once there, Shackleton was able to get help to rescue the crewmembers he had left behind months before.
Almost 100 years later, Jarvis plans to re-create the voyage in the same kind of lifeboat that Shackleton was forced to use in 1916. The replica lifeboat is named after Alexandra Shackleton, the great explorer’s granddaughter, who originally asked Jarvis to consider the trip.
“We’re on a boat with absolutely no modern navigational aids whatsoever,” Jarvis recently told reporters. “We'll just be going into darkness.”
STEERING INTO DANGER
Why take the trip? Little was known about Antarctica at the time of Shackleton’s journey. The expedition gave the world important information about Antarctica’s climate and geography. Jarvis intends his 2013 mission to show how the continent’s icy environment has changed over the past hundred years because of climate change.
“The irony is that Shackleton tried to save his men from Antarctica,” Jarvis told reporters. “We are now trying to save Antarctica from man.”
But this crew will not be in the same kind of danger that the Shackleton expedition was. A high-tech boat will follow Jarvis at all times and help if necessary. Jarvis and his crew will compare what they see of Antarctica’s melting ice with Shackleton’s descriptions, then document the differences.
Jarvis will leave for Antarctica from the southern tip of South America in January. He believes the trip will take two months if everything goes according to plan.