A tumultuous departure!

Published on 19.11.2008 - Matrix Shackleton Centenary Expedition

Little wonder that the people at McMurdo provided the best possible reception to the 'Shackleton Centenary' expedition, because it is just the 4th expedition in history to set out from there (Hut Point) to head for the South Pole!

The last time the Americans at McMurdo saw explorers set out from their base to conquer the South Pole was back in 1985 with Robert Swan's expedition. So it came as no surprise to learn that they had rolled out the red carpet for the Shackleton Centenary venture. The team had also insisted on taking the same compass used by the great explorer on his Nimrod expedition in 1909. The evening prior to the departure, expedition leader, Henry Worsley gave a speech telling the crew at the base all about the aims of the project.

This is what one of the McMurdo residents, Kevin Pettway, wrote about the visit from the three men on the Shackleton Centenary Expedition: "I have been to the Antarctic several times and done all sorts of amazing things all over the continent. But no experience compares with the encounter I have just had with the three guys on the Shackleton Centenary expedition, and especially with the fact that I have now been able to hold the compass used back then by the great man himself..."

The cherry on the cake came when the people at McMurdo offered the three members of the expedition something to drink and some biscuits to eat. They declined to accept anything at all ("with great difficulty", wrote the expedition leader) on account of the fact that the Shackleton Centenary Expedition is designed to be completely unassisted.

According to the expedition's comparative calculations with what Shackleton achieved, the three men should reach the point '97 miles from the pole' (where Shackleton turned back) on 9th January. To get to that point, they will have to cover an average daily distance of 12.17 nautical miles, or 22.5 km.

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