Shackleton Epic: Phase two
The moment of truth for the Shackleton Epic expedition is only hours away. After surviving the 800 mile crossing of the Southern Ocean in the 22.5ft lifeboat, Alexandra Shackleton, a replica of Shackleton's original James Caird, now the three fittest crew members will attempt to climb South Georgia’s mountainous, crevassed interior to reach the old whaling station at Stromness, just as Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men did almost 100 years ago.
South Georgia’s unrelenting foggy, wet and freezing weather looks like giving the crew a break tomorrow – a short window in which to start the final leg of their history-making journey over the mountains in less than 24 hours from now (midnight on Thursday 7 February UTC). It took Shackleton and his men 36 hours to make the journey into unknown territory. The Shackleton Epic team believes they will cross in a faster time - possibly within a day.
British/Australian expedition leader Tim Jarvis is currently grappling with the decision of who is fit enough to join him on the trek – the same decision Shackleton himself had to make.
“Royal Marines mountaineer Baz Gray will be on the trek, however, our intrepid cameraman and mountaineering veteran Ed Wardle who has climbed Everest twice, may be in doubt due to a case of trench foot,” Jarvis said.
Wardle, along with two other crew members, is suffering from ‘trench foot’, developed during the 12 day ocean crossing from Elephant Island. He is hoping for an improvement in his condition before the climbing team of three are due to depart. Otherwise another member of the expedition crew will be selected to climb.
Jarvis, Gray and Wardle have set up camp, sheltering in a cave at Peggotty Bluff, South Georgia. They are still in the original period gear they have worn since they left Elephant Island more than 16 days ago. Consistent with Shackleton’s expedition, the men now also have screws in the soles of their boots to help gain traction on the ice.
If successful, the team will become the first to authentically re-create Sir Ernest Shackleton’s voyage and trek of survival of 1916, honouring the British legend as the centenary of his heroic Antarctic expedition draws near.
If other members of the Shackleton Epic crew are given the ‘all clear’ to climb, they will form a shadow climbing party wearing modern climbing gear. Alexandra Shackleton skipper Nick Bubb will not be making the crossing with the second party. Expedition Doctor Alex Kumar, who is on the support vessel Australis has ruled Bubb unfit for travel due to his more advanced case of trench foot (for some really unpleasant images of what this looks like - click here)