Although a child of the Apollo program, I was gripped by Alfred Lansing‘s 1962 book Shackleton’s Valiant Voyage, a great tale of endurance, leadership, and survival and an inspiring true story from the heroic age of Antarctic exploration. In the 1910s, shortly after Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott separately reached the south pole, Ernest Shackleton organized an expedition to cross Antartica from sea to sea via the pole. Unfortunately, over the course of nearly a year, the ice slowly caught, crushed, and sank the expedition’s ship, the Endurance. After camping on ice floes for months, Shackleton and his crew of 28 (including one stowaway) used lifeboats to reach a desolate island, from which Shackleton and 5 companions sailed 1330 km of stormy, icy ocean via dead reckoning to bring rescue. All of the crew survived.
Even as a child, the expedition seemed remote in time, but Frank Hurley meticulously documented it, and the cover image of Lansing’s book is an actual photograph of the Endurance trapped in the ice. Today, almost exactly 100 years after Shackleton’s death, news broke that a team of scientists and adventurers have found Endurance 3008 meters beneath the surface of the Weddell Sea. Protected by cold waters and the Antarctic Treaty, the wreck is upright, well preserved, and will not be disturbed.