Embracing the Shackleton spirit in Antarctica

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by admin on January 22, 2014

Matt Trenkler, a student on the expedition, worked the ice core drill as the rest of hte students took the opportunity for a photo op. Photo courtesy Mike Beedell.

Matt Trenkler, a student on the expedition, worked the ice core drill as the rest of hte students took the opportunity for a photo op. Photo courtesy Mike Beedell.

By Courtney Merchand

Just off the coast of Elephant Island, a mountainous isle coated in ice 245 km away from the nearest Antarctic peninsula, the tale of Ernest Shackleton was told to over 70 students and staff who travelled from around the world to be part of the Students on Ice program.

In 1915, the ship that Shackleton and his 27 crew members were sailing sank. They were forced to live on open boats floating in the ever-shifting ice flow before they could finally travel to the closest landmass – Elephant Island. It was the first time he and his crew had set foot on dry land in 496 days. A week later, Shackleton set off for South Georgia Island, 1,287 km away. This was the greatest open boat journey in the southern seas. The men who stayed behind on Elephant Island lived off their trust in Shackleton, who finally returned 137 days later to rescue them.

For Chelsea resident Claudia Schroder-Adams, the retelling of Shackleton’s story and being able to walk in his footsteps is about as memorable as it gets.

“It was extremely moving seeing the spot where the crew waited,” said the palaeontologist and earth sciences professor from Carleton University. “We visited where it all happened.”

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