Leadership Lessons from Ernest Shackleton

by Brett & Kate McKay on August 2, 2011 · 34 comments

in A Man's Life, Lessons In Manliness

In September of 1914, Anglo-Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton set out on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition with the goal of being the first man to traverse the Antarctic continent. Aboard what would become his aptly-named ship, the Endurance, he and 27 men set sail for the South Pole. But along the way, the ship became trapped in ice, setting off a series of events that would lead him away from his original goal and yet test him as a man and enshrine him as a hero far more than the attainment of it would have. While he did not complete the transcontinental journey he had hoped for, he brought back all 27 of his men alive, a feat of magnificent leadership without parallel.

How did he do it? Shackleton’s leadership abilities were myriad, but today we will focus on the two most vital: his resilience and service.

A Leader Must Be Supremely Resilient

Resiliency involves both the hardihood and courage to take on risks and challenges, and the ability to bounce back from difficulties and disappointments. Shackleton would face hardships that almost defy belief, and it was his iron-clad resilience that allowed he and his men to survive.

The story of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition is the story of surging optimism met with crushing defeat manifested over and over and over again. That the former never failed Shackleton, and the latter never broke him, is truly what brought his men through to the other side.

Numerous times, Shackleton and his men felt incredibly hopeful that a goal was in sight and things were turning their way, only to have these hopes utterly dashed:

The Endurance trapped in ice.

  • The Endurance gets stuck in the ice floes before reaching Vahsel Bay, where the expedition across Antarctica was to begin. But Shackleton is still hopeful that if they wait until the ice melts in the spring, they’ll be able to continue the journey.
  • But after months trapped in ice, the pressure from the shifting floes twists and breaks the ships; it slowly fills with water and Shackleton must issue the order to abandon the vessel. The men must now camp on the ice floe.

The men attempt to pull the boats across the ice floes.

  • Shackleton is hopeful that the men and dogs can pull the supplies and boats across the ice floes until they reach open water, at which point they can set sail for Paulet Island, 346 miles to the northwest. He leads the party, breaking the trail and trying to smooth the pressure ridges with a shovel and pick. But the wet snow soaks the men’s tents and sleeping bags and slows progress considerably. After only making it two miles in two days of marching, the plan is abandoned. The men will have to remain camped on a barren sheet of ice, where they must be careful that the ice does not crack and the killer whales do not rise to the surface and tip them into the freezing waters.
  • After 2 months camped on the ice, Shackleton decides to attempt another march. The men once more leave in high spirits, but again, the progress is so painfully slow that the expedition is quickly abandoned. The men will have to camp for four more months as their icy home drifts for hundreds of miles, their lives completely at the mercy of nature. At one point, the coast of Antarctica comes within sight, but the way is blocked by ice, and Shackleton is forced to slowly slide away from his goal.
  • After almost six months of living on ice, it finally melts sufficiently for the boats to be launched. The men set off for Elephant Island, which is only 30 miles away. After an arduous day of sailing, Shackleton feels hopeful they are almost there. But when their position is checked, they find they are now 60 miles from their destination—the current has carried them off course.

En route to Elephant Island the men first tried camping on ice floes, but this was abandoned when one cracked open as the men slept, tearing a tent apart and dropping its inhabitant, still inside his sleeping bag, into the icy waters. Shackleton, ever vigilant about the safety of his men, had sensed something was wrong, and was right on the scene, immediately fishing the man out.

  • For seven days, Shackleton and his men row and sail in small, open boats upon the stormy seas. Blocks of ice threaten their path. Rain and snow squalls soak them though. Snow showers dust them in white. The sun is absent for 17 hours a day, and the temperatures dip below zero in the dark. Sleep comes only in tiny, involuntary snatches, and the men are completely exhausted. On the fourth day of the journey, the water supply runs out and the men grow so dehydrated they cannot eat. Elephant Island is spotted, but as they pull close, a strong gale prevents them from landing. For two days they can see their goal but not approach it.
  • When the men finally make land, they dance along the “beach” and let the pebbles dribble through their hands. Despite the fact this was “an inhospitable place, devoid of any vegetation, covered with glaciers and swept by ice laden surges of the South Atlantic Ocean,” the men are overjoyed; this is the first time they’ve been on solid land in 497 days. But Shackleton realizes that their landing spot is too open to wind and waves, and the men must get back in the boats and move another 7 miles around the island.
  • The men make camp and are greatly relieved, believing they will be able to spend the winter on the island and be picked up by whalers in the spring. But Shackleton realizes there will not be enough food on the island to last that long; he must break the news to the men and get back in the boat to sail another 800 miles to the whaling stations on the island of South Georgia.

The launch of the 22-foot James Caird from Elephant Island, the boat that would carry Shackleton 800 miles on the open sea to South Georgia.

  • Shackleton chooses five men to accompany him, loads a boat with a month’s supply of rations, and takes off to their last hope of salvation. South Georgia was only a tiny speck of an island, and with the smallest mistake in navigation, the men would be swept out into the Atlantic Ocean, where the nearest land was thousands of miles away. For 16 days, the men are battered by waves and wind, fierce gales, and the constant spray of freezing ocean water, which chills them to the very marrow of their bones. Water makes its way into nearly every nook in the boat, including their moldering sleeping bags, and has to be continually pumped and bailed out by hand.  The men cannot stand or sit up straight, and with the ship violently pitching back and forth, they must crawl over the stones serving as ballast to move from one part of the boat to another. Their bodies grow sore and bruised; exposure leaves their mouths cracked and swollen. As the men near the island, water rations grow low and have to be cut; desperate dehydration sets in. Land is spotted on the 14th day, but there is nowhere safe to put in. The drinking water is now completely gone. A hurricane-force gale rocks and floods the boat. The men feel the end is near. But the next day they finally find a bay in which to put in.

The small boat encountered 80-foot waves.

  • But the men’s journey is far from over. They find themselves on the opposite side of the island from the whaling stations. Shackleton decides to make an overland journey to reach them, an expedition never before attempted, and one that would take the men over steep snow-slopes and glaciers, jagged mountain peaks, and impassable cliffs. But first another delay—bad weather keeps the men from starting the march for ten days, an anxiety-filled time as their thoughts continually turn to the men left on Elephant Island.

The island of South Georgia was beautiful and forbidding.

  • When the march begins, Shackleton as always breaks the trail for the other men, trudging through soft, knee-deep snow and across fields of ice. Without flashlights, the darkness hides the deadly crevasses until they are just upon them. Several times the men grow hopeful that they are almost there, only to realize they have gone the wrong way, forcing them to gloomily retrace their steps. For 36 sleepless hours the men march in search of the whaling stations, stopping only for meals.
  • Finally, Shackleton reaches the first signs of civilization he has seen in a year and a half. And still, the setbacks are not over. Shackleton is desperate to rescue the men on Elephant Island as quickly as possible. He makes three attempts to retrieve them, but each time the ship is forced to turn back because ice blocks the way. It takes a fourth ship and four months until Shackleton makes it back to Elephant Island, but he is greeted with the most rewarding sight of all: all 22 of the men he had left behind, alive, waving from the beach.

Hope. Progress. Crushing setback. Hope. Progress. Crushing setback. This was Shackleton’s reality for a year and a half. Such a string of endless disappointments might have made a lesser man want to curl up and die. But not Shackleton. Although he had moments where the weight of the situation sat heavily upon his shoulders, he would always shake off the gloom and resiliently move forward once more; his manly spirit could not be defeated.

This was true from his first setback to his last.

While the Endurance was trapped in ice, the ship’s captain, Frank Arthur Worsley, said of the man everyone called “The Boss:”

“Shackleton’s spirits were wonderfully irrepressible considering the heartbreaking reverses he has had to put up with and the frustration of all his hopes for this year at least. One would think he had never a care on his mind & he is the life & soul of half the skylarking and fooling in the ship.”

No matter what befell him, Shackleton remained of good cheer and always found reasons to laugh. Even on the soul-crushing boat ride to South Georgia, Worsley remembered him laughing. And on the arduous 36 hour hike to the whaling stations, Shackleton could still earnestly say, “laughter was in our hearts.”

And here is the mark of a real leader: the worse things got, the more cool and collected Shackleton became. Worsley remembered that Shackleton could sometimes be irritable when the going was good and he could afford it, “but never when things were going badly and we were up against it.”

How did Shackleton maintain his resilience amidst trials that would have made other men crumble? He concentrated not on the things that couldn’t be altered and weren’t under his control, but on what he could do.

After the Endurance sank, Worsley remembered that Shackleton was:

“bitterly disappointed, as sorely grieved as I was myself, and he let me get a glimpse of his mind when he said, sadly, one day: “It looks as though we shan’t cross the Antarctic Continent after all.” He paused, and then squaring his shoulders, added cheerfully, ‘It’s a pity, but that cannot be helped. It is the men that we have to think about.’”

And for the rest of the journey, that is essentially all he focused on, finding his strength in a service and a cause greater than his own ambitions.

A Leader Serves Those Under Him

“Shackleton’s first thought was for the men under him. He didn’t care if he went without a shirt on his back so long as the men he was leading had sufficient clothing.” –Lionel Greenstreet, First Officer

“How he stood the incessant vigil was marvelous, but he is a wonderful man…He simply never spares himself if, by his individual toil, he can possibly benefit anyone else.” –Thomas Orde-Lees

“Shackleton had a genius—it was neither more nor less than that—for keeping those about him in high spirits. We loved him. To me, he was a brother. The men felt the cold it is true; but he had inspired the kind of loyalty which prevented them from allowing themselves to get depressed over anything.” –FA Worsley

Equal in importance to Shackleton’s supreme resilience, was his care, almost obsession, for the well-being of his men.

Shackleton was ever concerned about his men’s morale. He understood that idleness quickly begets depression, and so he kept the men as active as possible, sending them out for vigorous games of football and hockey while the Endurance was trapped in ice. This is also why he chose to attempt the marches across the ice once the ship sank, wisely observing that:

“It would be, I considered, so much better for the men to feel that they were progressing—even if the progress was slow—towards land and safety, than simply to sit down and wait for the tardy north-westerly drift to take us from the cruel waste of ice.”

On the way to South Georgia, he assured that the men got regular meals and drinks of hot milk every four hours; the routine gave the men stability and something to look forward to. Worsley wrote:

“It was due solely to Shackleton’s care of the men in preparing these hot meals and drinks every four hours day and night, and his general watchfulness in everything concerning the men’s comfort, that no one died during the journey. Two of the party at least were very close to death. Indeed, it might be said that he kept a finger on each man’s pulse. Whenever he noticed that a man seemed extra cold and shivered, he would immediately order another hot drink of milk to be prepared and served to all. He never let the man know that it was on his account, lest he became nervous about himself, and while all participated, it was the coldest, naturally, who got the greatest advantage.”

He always thought of the needs of his men above his own, and he was always ready to sacrifice his own comfort for others. As Worsley put it, “It was his rule that any deprivation should be felt by himself before anybody else.”

When they sailed to Elephant Island, the expedition’s photographer, Frank Hurley, lost his mittens, so Shackleton gave him his own; when Hurley protested, Shackleton threatened to throw them them overboard. Hurley accepted the mittens, and Shackleton’s fingers became frostbitten. Yet he never complained. When they made land in South Georgia, the men were too exhausted to pull the boat all the way in. Therefore Shackleton decided to let the men eat and rest before finishing the job. But the boat had to be watched to make sure it did not float away. Shackleton took the first watch, and let the men sleep; he then took the second watch as well, which had been assigned to Worsley, because he was so grateful for the “Skipper” having brought them safely ashore. When the men marched over the island, Shackleton was in thin leather ski boots because he had given his warm, specially-made expedition boots to another man.

Shackleton thought of himself as the father of the men, and believed it was his responsibility to get every man out alive. This was a great weight to bear upon his shoulders, but he bore it stoically.

When the men landed on Elephant Island, Shackleton said to Worsley, “Thank God I haven’t killed one of my men!” Worsley replied, “We all know you have worked superhumanly to look after us.” To which Shackleton answered gruffly, “Superhuman effort…isn’t worth a damn unless it achieves results.”

A leader who serves and loves his men as Shackleton did, makes a sacrifice that is not simply altruistic, for such actions have the effect of forging the deepest loyalty.

When Shackleton prepared to leave on the voyage to South Georgia, he gathered his men, men who had just been through hell, and told them that the journey would be fraught with danger and had only the slimmest chances of succeeding. And then he asked for those who were willing to accompany him to step forward. Worsley recalled the scene:

 “The moment he ceased speaking every man volunteered…On the island was still safety for some weeks. The boat journey promised even worse hardships than those through which we had but recently passed. Yet so strong was the men’s affection for Shackleton, so great was their loyalty to him, that they responded as though they had not undergone any of the experiences that so often destroy those sentiments. They were as eager to accompany him as they had been on the first of August, 1914, the day upon which we had sailed nearly two years before.

It must have been a great moment for Shackleton. There was a long and pregnant pause before he replied, and then he said only three words: “Thank you men.” I remember thinking that this was one of the finest and most impressive utterances I had ever heard.”



South by Sir Ernest Shackleton

Endurance by F.A. Worsley



{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brandon August 2, 2011 at 4:36 pm

I love Shackleton’s story! I read “Endurance” in high school and the story has given me inspiration many times since.

2 Emily August 2, 2011 at 4:50 pm

What an incredible story! The pictures are so realistic too, it makes me feel like I’m there with them. Shackleton was a fantastic and inspiring man.

3 Bruce August 2, 2011 at 5:31 pm

I love Shackleton’s story, and have read several versions. I’ve also seen the spectacular photographic exhibits. No doubt Shackleton was an admirable leader, for the reasons Brett and Kate enumerate. However, Shackleton says, “Superhuman effort…isn’t worth a damn unless it achieves results.” Of course this may be true — when it comes to human life, especially. Nonetheless, I think we sometimes confuse results with effort, or talent with luck. If Shackleton had drowned while sailing from Elephant Island to New South Wales (as could easily have happened, despite his manifold talents) he would have been just as talented a leader as he actually was when he survived. But he wouldn’t have been as feted.

I’ve done a lot of mountaineering — and mountaineers love to second-guess disastarous and fatal climbs. This mistake or that mistake; this want of leadership or that want of leadership led to the tragedy. It’s only natural — especially since most of the stories of the “epics” are written by other mountain climbers, who think that they could avoid a similar disaster. However, it doesn’t necessarily follow that because Shackleton was more successful at shepherding his men through trying circumstances than (say) Scott, he was better at it than Scott was. As I just said in another discussion, time and chance happeneth to it all.

I don’t know why I mention this – it certainly doesn’t detract from Shackleton’s manly virtues. However, I object to the flip side of the coin – to the notion that because Franklin or Scott led their men to death and failure, we can assume that they lacked these virtues. We tend to blame the victim – it’s a sort of defense mechanism and an assertion of the power of the individual. But an individual is often powerless against nature: Shackleton combined his talent with luck to escape. Others with the same talents do not escape. The successful climber may have made 20 “errors” as egregious as the one for which he is quick to blame another (now dead) climber – the only difference is that he got away with it.

4 Harry August 2, 2011 at 9:03 pm

I’ve heard the story in broad strokes many times before, but never in this much detail. I’m adding this to my very long reading list.

It really is amazing that not a single man died. In the military, they have an axiom, “Officers eat last.”

One thing I think missed here is that part of being a leader is picking a good team to start with. If they didn’t have a superbly skilled navigator on the crew, no amount of leadership would help them hit South Georgia Island.

Also, planning is critical – they were expecting to be out in the elements carrying everything they needed to survive and sleeping out in the middle of miles-wide sheets of ice with no shelter in the bitterest cold imaginable as part of their crossing effort, so they had enough provisions and equipment to survive, and they were trained for such environments.

5 Justin August 2, 2011 at 10:07 pm


I don’t think the words Shackelton says (Superhuman effort…isn’t worth a damn unless it achieves results) that matter so much as the philosophy you live by that causes you to respond that way.

When I read those words, I didn’t picture a man who would look down on someone who failed. I see a man where failure doesn’t even register, he can’t and won’t allow it to happen.

Very Cortez in burning the boats. In modern terms, straight bauss.

6 Playstead August 3, 2011 at 12:10 am

My first thought was, “who the hell is Ernest Shakelton?” Now I know.

Good story, especially the “Superhuman” quote.

7 JJ August 3, 2011 at 12:11 am

Wow…what a story and what a man! What I love about the Art of Manliness is that I think I know about things, but then I’ll read an article here and realize I really had no idea about it at all. Like with this, sure I knew that Shackleton with an Antarctic explorer and something about them getting stuck in ice, but I just realized I really didn’t know anything about the story at all. Same with stuff like 401ks. Always educational. AoM. Keep it up.

8 Keith August 3, 2011 at 1:02 am

Shackleton’s story is amazing – he’s a genuine hero and was a great leader of men. He couldn’t have achieved what he did without the help of Tom Crean though.


His story is just as fascinating. My father held Crean up as a role model and gave me all there was to read about him from as early as I can remember. Shackleton, Scott, Crean, Wallace and all the others from the golden age of Polar exploration really show how much can be achieved with an iron will and an adeventurous spirit.

9 marc August 3, 2011 at 2:06 am

I have read and studied much of captain Falcon scott and also of shaclketon,both were impressive and the men who went with them to the pole.
It has recently become fashionable to believe that all of Shackletons party survived
I wanted to point out that Shackleton did have some of his expedition die on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.Of the group that were Shackleton all did indeed survive,but there was a second group commanded by Captain Aeneas Mackintosh,this other group were to lay out supplies and were sailing in a ship called the Aurora,10 men were marooned of which 3 died including Captain Mackintosh. i find all the antarctic and arctic travel fascinating and i am glad to see this article.

10 Nick Pierce August 3, 2011 at 2:10 am

I’ve heard this story before, and actually this telling left out one of my favorite parts (no offense meant towards the writer, another great post from my favorite blog). Shackleton’s recruitment poster for his crew read “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.” Hundreds, if not thousands, of men applied.

11 Chaz August 3, 2011 at 4:31 am

They broke the mould when they made Shackleton, that’s for sure. The scope of his achievements on the Endurance expedition is probably understated here – the open boat voyage to South Georgia across the wildest seas in the World is a feat of navigation, boatmanship and endurance that it is hard to imagine will ever be surpassed.

However, the man himself was far from straightforward. He had fantasised previously about a “great open boat voyage”, so this wasn’t a completely altruistic act. There was a great deal of the glory hunter about Shackleton. In other situations, he could be arrogant, abrasive and snobbish

If I needed a great leader in a tight corner, Shackleton would be my only choice. However, if I wanted a leader who wouldn’t get me into the tight corner in the first place, I’d choose pretty much anyone else. I have nothing but admiration for the man though.

12 Stephen August 3, 2011 at 8:26 am

But wait, there’s more… Not only did none of the men in Shackleton’s crew die, but two of them (from memory) were stow-aways!!!!

13 Dave Lewis August 3, 2011 at 10:33 am

I came across a copy of Endurance in a used book store about 35 years ago. I’ve read it at least a dozen times, usually when things got a little rough in my life. I remember line from somewhere that said,”If you’re in lost, pray. If you’re lost in the Antarctic, pray for Shackleton.”

14 Janet August 3, 2011 at 10:35 am

Forcing his men to include seal fat in their food, and rewarding the cook little favors (like soap when no on else had it) because he had to work while the others rested are two more reasons that Shackleton was able to keep everyone alive. His planning, forethought and attention to these “little” details are incredibly impressive.

15 Sylvia Lafair August 3, 2011 at 10:55 am

Excellent overview. I used Shackleton as an example in my book “Don’t Bring It to Work” as an exemplary explorer. Not quite what you may think. I am talking about an inner explorer, of emotions a person who can take the fear of thinking like a victim (he certainly could have gone that route) to exploring and finding new solutions over and over again. His leadership skills are a great example for leadership development programs today and how to be resiliant.
Sylvia Lafair

16 Brett McKay August 3, 2011 at 4:30 pm


Actually, many sources say that advertisement was placed by Shackleton for his Nimrod expedition. Although you can find it attributed to either one, as the the ad is apocryphal and the hard copy has never been found. But it’s still a lot of fun…we put it in our upcoming Manvotionals book.

17 Sam August 3, 2011 at 7:06 pm

The man was British. Wouldn’t expect anything less of him.

18 MikeC August 3, 2011 at 11:40 pm

Outstanding post. Very inspirational. Once again, AoM has come up with a winner.

19 john parker August 4, 2011 at 2:36 am

For any people out there who like their tales delivered visually, or for anybody who’d just like to see a dramatisation of shackleton’s expedition, there’s a 2-part serial of the story. Made for tv, in 2002, it’s very good, with loads of emmy, bafta and golden globe nominations. It was where i first heard the full story, and it’s well worth watching. Kenneth branagh plays shackleton, and very well. Bits that stick out in my mind are the breaking of the glass exhibition slides (the images taken by the photographer), the sheer dogged persistence and selflessness, and the arrival in the whaling station, which is handled brilliantly. Oh, and the scenes of what was happening back in england, where shackleton’s wife was being passed around from pillar to post while people got committees together to discuss if they’d do anything to rescue the men. Highly recommended, well worth watching and keeping, it’s available on amazon.

20 Mato Tope August 4, 2011 at 9:35 am

In the T.V. dramatisation mentioned by Mr J Parker, Shackleton (played by Branagh) quotes Prospice by Robert Browning to rally his men in the face of despair.

“For sudden the worst brings the best to the brave.”

Excellent article and deeply inspiring.

21 EB August 4, 2011 at 12:25 pm

I hadn’t heard about Shackleton before reading this article. I’m glad I read it.

22 Tyler Opsahl August 4, 2011 at 3:57 pm


I’ve ordered the two books cited. Would you recommend we read one before the other? My inclination is to read the autobiography first, but thought I’d get your thoughts.

23 Bruce August 4, 2011 at 5:51 pm

For those interested in polar exploration, I recommend two books in addition to the Shackleton stories. One is “The Quest for the Arctic Grail” by Canadian historian Peirre Breton. It’s a history of attempts to find the Northwest Passage (eventually navigated by Amundsen,the same man who beat Scott to the South Pole) and the North Pole. Great stuff!

The other is “The Worst Journey in the World” by Apsley Cherry-Garrard. It’s an account of the fatal Robert Falcon Scott expedition to the South Pole, although the “worst journey” actually refers to a winter treck to the roosting grounds of the Emperor Penguin, which Cherry-Garrard made the winter prior to Scott’s polar expedition. Both books speak to the question of “manliness” that I have been discussing in another thread. Here’s the final paragraph of “Worst Journey”:

“And I tell you, if you have the desire for knowledge and the power to give it physical expression, go out and explore. If you are a brave man you will do nothing: if you are fearful you may do much, for none but cowards have need to prove their bravery. Some will tell you that you are mad, and nearly all will say, “What is the use?” For we are a nation of shopkeepers, and no shopkeeper will look at research which does not promise him a financial return within a year. And so you will sledge nearly alone, but those with whom you sledge will not be shopkeepers: that is worth a good deal. If you march your Winter Journeys you will have your reward, so long as all you want is a penguin’s egg.”

24 Toby August 4, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Really great article AOM! Thoroughly enjoyed it. Shackleton and his men were all tough as nails. Bless them and their feats of endurance. “All in” committment and a whole lot of trust existed there.

25 Jeff August 6, 2011 at 9:45 am

Another great read on polar exploration is “The Last Place on Earth” by Roland Huntford. (http://www.amazon.com/Place-Earth-Modern-Library-Exploration/dp/0375754741/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1312637962&sr=8-1). While a huge mythology has been generated around Scott, Shackleton and Roald Amundsen were the true leaders of the polar explorers. Honestly, this is probably the best book on leadership I have ever read. Amundsen beat Scott to the South Pole Scott by over a month and got all his men back safely. Scott starved to death on the march home. Amundsen actually gained weight on the way home and left almost 1/2 his supplies unused on trail.

26 Kerry girl August 6, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Excellent article.

I highly recommend the excellent one-man play “Tom Crean” which has toured the U.S. I’ve seen it three times and am always moved to tears.

Sam, Shackleton was Irish – albeit partially Anglo-Irish – he was the son of a Kerrywoman. Tom Crean was also an Irishman and a Kerryman. The English have a long history of appropriating things that don’t belong to them, including Irish things. This happens particularly with Irish writers.

I won’t allow that to happen on this thread.

27 Michael T August 8, 2011 at 7:08 am

A great writer named Patrick McLean http://www.theseanachai.co​m/ has a fantastic article (written and audio) about Scott of the Antartic, it makes a great companion piece to this.

Scott of the Antartic:

And, for the AOM people in general,

28 JD Nolan August 14, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Kerry Girl, thanks for bringing that up. Shackleton was indeed Irish. He was a Kildare man.

The amazing accomplishment described above was due to the endurance and talents of three exceptional men. Ernest Shackleton, Frank Worsely and Tom Crean.

Very disappointed at the lack of mention for Crean in this article. I would encourage anyone interested to read “Unsung Hero”, the story of Kerryman Tom Crean, one of our greatest heroes and a story to make any Irish person proud.

29 marc August 20, 2011 at 12:51 am

Ireland was part of Britain at the time of the expedition.It was a British expedition.
When they made it back from the expedition the crew joined the royal navy and British army to fight in the Great war.

30 Lori Nelson October 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm

I have retweeted this story so many times! Shackleton was the greatest leader the world has ever know, and his story is the greatest adventure in history. If anyone wonders why Hollywood has never made a movie about it, the wait is over. Check out the Ice Project and Variety’s exclusive story: http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118059921

31 Gerónimo LEVRERO March 2, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Would be good for you to know that when Shackleton reached Elephant Island and operated the radio station, inmediately the Uruguayan Navy prepared and displayed the ”Instituto de Pesca N°1” under orders of the Lieutenant Elichiribiehti, but Shackleton judged that boat not to be able to do the rescue. Sorry for my bad english.

32 Kory August 2, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Shackleton has been one of my heros for many years. He felt a deep responsibility for the lives of his men, including those he disliked and kept his eye on the main goal of getting them all out alive, despite his personal feelings. Getting the job done and not letting his ego get in the way is why one of the reasons he was such a remarkable leader.

33 John Turner August 3, 2013 at 6:43 am

I’ve been on “The Ice”. It is an awe inspiring, thin your gene pool kinda place. These were hard men.

34 Buddy November 4, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Thank you for posting this. I’m reading “Endurance” right now for a science & exploration course and the story is just mind-blowing. Shackleton and his men were pinnacles of manliness and yet they are only a handful of the hardy men who were a dime-a-dozen back then. Stories like these are truly inspiring. Thank you AoM for collecting this stuff. Whenever my sense of manliness is waning, whenever I feel like I’ve lost my rudder, it’s tales of other great men that fan the flames of determination brighter for me. It’s easy to forget about the power we each possess for greatness when living in these feminized states of misandry.

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