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Timeline of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Trans-Antarctic Expedition


  • Aug. 1Endurance, the expedition ship, departs London.
  • Oct. 26After stopping for supplies, the Endurance departs from Buenos Aires.
  • Nov. 5Endurance arrives at the whaling station of Grytviken, South Georgia Island, the last outpost of civilization encountered en route to Antarctica.
  • Dec. 5Endurance departs the Grytviken whaling station.
  • Dec. 7Endurance first encounters pack ice.

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  • Jan. 18Endurance becomes surrounded by pack ice. Immobilized, it begins drifting in the ice.
  • Feb. 21Endurance drifts to its furthest south point, 76°58'S.
  • Oct. 27The ship is severely damaged by ice. Shackleton gives the order to abandon ship.
  • Oct. 28 – Shackleton orders each of the twenty-seven men to dump all but two pounds of personal possessions. Exceptions are made for photographer Frank Hurley's 35mm motion-picture footage and photographs, as well as meteorologist Leonard Hussey's banjo.
  • Nov. 1Shackleton establishes a camp on an ice floe, dubbed Ocean Camp.
  • Nov. 8Hurley dives into the flooded ship to recover the precious glass plates for his photographs. With Shackleton, he chooses 120 photographs to keep. They then destroyed the remaining 400 or so, so Hurley isn't tempted to risk his life to return for them later.
  • Nov. 21Endurance sinks at 68°38.5'S, 52°28'W.
  • Dec. 29After a failed attempt to march across ice to the safety of land, Shackleton establishes "Patience Camp" on an ice floe. The men hope to drift north to safety.

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  • April 9Shackleton orders the lifeboats—the Dudley Docker, Stancomb Wills, and the James Caird—to be launched. The boats are named for the expedition's main patrons.
  • April 16The three boats land on Elephant Island, a remote, uninhabited island far from shipping lanes. This is the first time that the men have stood on solid ground in 497 days.
  • April 24Shackleton decides to sail the James Caird to South Georgia Island, where a whaling station is located, to get help. He brings Captain Frank Worsley, Second Officer Tom Crean, carpenter Chippy McNeish, and seamen Tim McCarthy and John Vincent.
  • May 10The James Caird arrives on the uninhabited south coast of South Georgia Island.
  • May 19 Shackleton, Worsley, and Crean begin their trek across the island's unexplored and largely unknown interior to get help at the whaling station on the north coast.
  • May 20 – Shackleton and his men arrive at Stromness whaling station. Worsley sails to the south coast to pick up the three men left behind.
  • May 23Shackleton borrows a ship, Southern Sky, and sails to Elephant Island to rescue his men. The pack ice prevents passage and the ship returns. Two subsequent rescue attempts, aboard the Instituto Pesca No. 1 in June and the Emma in July, are also stopped by pack ice.
  • Aug. 25Shackleton departs on the Yelcho.
  • Aug. 30 – Shackleton rescues the twenty-two men on Elephant Island.

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