National Geographic : 1909 Apr
SHACKLETON'S FARTHEST SOUTH ALL records for South Polar ex ploration have been surpassed by Lieut. E. H. Shackleton, R. N.,who is now returning to England after fourteen months spent within the Ant arctic Circle. Shackleton, on January 9, 1909, gained a point within III miles from the South Geographical Pole, while another of his parties actually reached the South Magnetic Pole on January 16, 1909, according to press dispatches from New Zealand. He has shown that the Geographical Pole is situated on a high plateau about 10,000ooo feet above sealevel, and that the remarkable floating ice-bar rier stretching for 500 miles between King William VII Land and Victoria Land, and justly called one of the won ders of the world, does not apparently reach beyond the eighty-third degree. But to Americans his most interesting discovery is new land and mountain ranges extending from South Victoria Land, which once more confirms the great discoveries of the American Wilkes, made nearly seventy years ago. (See page 402). Lieutenant Shackleton, with a party of about 15 men, dogs, Siberian ponies, mo tor cars, and other equipment, was landed from the Nimrod in January, 1908, at Cape Royds, near the base of the smoking volcano, Mount Erebus. Here he made his headquarters for the year at the same base used by the previous British Ant arctic Expedition (1901-1904), led by Captain Scott, whose splendid achieve ments were described in this Magazine in February, 1907. The motor cars proved apparently of little value during the ensuing year's work, owing to the crevasses in the ice, but the Siberian ponies showed remarkable endurance of cold and great pulling power. Campaigning against the Pole in some respects is easier in the south than in the north. The weather is much harsher and more boisterous in the south, but the working season is longer. The North Pole is surrounded by an ice-covered ocean, which must be crossed in spring before the ice breaks apart under the summer sun. The South Pole, on the other hand, is situated on a great ice plateau, which may be traversed during almost the entire period of daylight. Thus, while Peary must complete his dash from the most northern land to the Pole and back in a period of about sixty days, the South Polar explorer has more than one hundred and twenty days at his disposal. Lieutenant Shackleton not only won the record for farthest south, but he has reached a point nearer the South Pole than any explorer has been able to ap proach to the North Pole. The story of his year's work, as given in the cable dispatches from New Zealand, follows: The southern party-Adams, Mar shall, Wild, and I-with four ponies and a supporting party, consisting of Sir Philip Brocklehurst and Messrs. Joyce, Marson, Armytage, and Priestly, left Cape Royds on October 29, 1908, with ninety-one days' provisions. The sup porting party returned on November 7. Owing to the bad light among the ice crevasses, Adams and a pony were nearly lost. We reached on November 13 the depot laid out in September in latitude 79° 36', longitude 168° east. We took on a pony the maize and provisions pre viously left there and commenced reduc ing our daily rations. We traveled south along meridian 168 over a varying surface, high ridges and mounds of snow alternating with soft snow. The ponies often sank to their bellies. In latitude 81° 4' we shot the pony Chinaman and made a depot of oil, biscuit, and pony meat. The re mainder of the pony meat we took on to eke out our dried rations. On November 26 we reached the Dis covery expedition's southernmost latitude. The surface was now extremely soft, with large undulations. The ponies were attacked with snow blindness. On No vember 28 the pony Grisi was shot. We made a depot in latitude 82° 45', longi tude 1700°. The pony Quan was shot on November 30. We had now traveled 400 miles across the ice barrier.