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Shackleton Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1915 Postcard Endurance at Night Side ViewModern Reproduced Oversized Picture Postcard. approx. 16.5cm x 12.2cm. Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1914-1917, aboard "Endurance". / Endurance at Night (side View), 1915. Photograph by Frank Hurley.
Background: The Quest for the South Port. During the early 20th century's "Heroic Age" of Antarctic exploration, 4 British expeditions set sights on reaching the South Pole. The British National Antarctic Expedition of 1901-1904, led by naval officer Robert Falcon Scott aboard the ship "Discovery", came within 857km (463 nautical miles) of the pole and laid the ground for future scientific research in Antarctica. Ernest Shackleton, who had been a member Scott's expedition, then organized and led the British Antarctic Expedition (1907-1909) in hopes of being first to the pole. Reaching Antarctica aboard the "Nimrod", this expedition came within 180km (97 nautical miles) of its goal before turning back due to harsh weather, poor rations, and physical weakness. Nevertheless, expedition members were the first to reach the polar plateau, first to ascent Mount Erebus, and first to reach the South Magnetic Pole. (Shackleton's "Furthest South" record would stand until the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen reached Geographic South Pole in December 1911). In 1910 Scott embarked on a second expedition, aboard the "Terra Nova". Using Shackleton's route across the plateau, this expedition aimed to reach the South Pole and undertake further scientific research and exploration. The expedition accomplished its scientific goals and mapped Victoria Land and the Western Mountains. But when Scott and a small team reached the South Pole, they discovered that Amundsen had beaten them there by one month. Tragically, they all died on the return journey. Shackleton's next effort, the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917 aboard the "Endurance", set out to be the first to cross Antarctica. But the Endurance was destroyed by ice, and the 28 men endured 22 months in the Antarctic, isolated with poor food supplies at temperature below -37C (-35F). Eventually, Shackleton and a crew of 6 went for help in a small whaleboat, the "James Caird". Crossing 800 nautical miles of the treacherous Southern Ocean, Shackleton completed one of history's most remarkable voyages, returning within months to rescue his stranded crew. The Quest for the South Pole celebrates the achievement of all 4 expeditions through dramatic photographs taken by, among others, the distinguished photographers Herbert Ponting and Frank Hurley. These images reflect the bravery and determination of the expeditionary teams and capture a sense of the Antarctic's majestic natural beauty.
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