Shackleton crossing hit by wild weather

Six men set out to cross the mountainous South Georgia Island near Antarctica at 9am Friday morning, hoping to reach the other side within 24 hours.

British-Australian adventurer Tim Jarvis and mountaineer Barry Gray, with a support team of four, were expecting a smooth journey as they recreated British explorer Ernest Shackleton's legendary crossing in 1916.

But 12 hours in, wild weather on the island left the two men stranded on a plateau above Shackleton's Gap. Winds had been blowing at 45 knots, knocking some expeditioners off their feet.

“Horizontal” rain and zero visibility forced Mr Jarvis and Mr Gray to hunker down and weather the storm. Their support team evacuated and sought refuge on the support ship Australis, anchored in Possession Bay.

Two members, Australian Paul Larsen and British cameraman Joe French, returned to the mountain with extra supplies and provision that will last until Monday.

“They are both experienced mountaineers and they've said they will continue with the expedition unsupported when there is a break in the weather, carrying a rucksack with the tent and provisions – which they must do for their own safety,” Paul Larsen, the team's navigator, said.

“They have dried out quite a bit since we left them and they are feeling a bit better,” said Ben Wallis, a member of the support crew vessel.

The second leg of the journey to recreate Shackleton's expedition has proved to be just as rough as the first, which involved braving a 1500 kilometre voyage through the choppy Southern Ocean to safety. They crossed in a small 6.9 metre wooden lifeboat Alexander Shackleton, an exact replica of Shackleton's James Caird.

Three of the six men found they had trench foot, an excruciating condition that was experienced by soldiers in the muddy trenches of World War I. Mr Jarvis had to re-organise the team that would embark on the second leg to cross the frozen island.

It took Shackleton 36 hours to cross what was then uncharted glaciated land to locate Stromess, an old whaling station, to seek help for the rest of his crew in 1916. Mr Jarvis and his team were expecting to reach the station within 24 hours, but now it could take an extra day.

In their tribute to the British Explorer, the team sacrificed modern luxuries and settled with similar provisions and equipment used in the original expedition. They endured sodden reindeer-skin sleeping bags at night and chewed on nougat, dried meat and lard.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop