Why read Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing?

Throughout history, people raced to be the first at Everest or the North and South Poles. In 1914, Ernest Shackleton and crew raced to be the first to cross the Antarctic from west to east. They failed. Their story is one of the greatest survival and adventure stories of all time.

Shackleton had a crew of twenty-seven men. The plan was to go to the edge aboard the ship, Endurance, cross the land mass by dogs, and board another ship. Things started going bad when they found themselves stuck in ice. Immense pressures crushed the Endurance. They had to abandon ship.

They camped in ice floes for months living off their rations and seals around the area. When supplies got depleted they had to shoot their dogs. This time they only drifted with the ice floe. The ice began to show cracks. It could no longer support them.

They jumped into lifeboats and spent weeks in terrible conditions. For the last couple days, they ate nothing. They rowed until they reached Elephant Island. Touching land for the first time in 497 days, they find out that the island is uninhabited. They had to get help.

Shackleton with five men sailed another 600 miles to a whaling station. For those left at Elephant Island, life went on for months holding on to the promise of their leader coming back. Meanwhile, Shackleton braved storms and huge waves. They arrived at the wrong side of South George Island.  Three of the five no longer had strength to move. They could no longer sail by boat and they still had to move.

Shackleton and two others traversed through mountains and glaciers. At one point they slid thousands of miles of elevation with no gear. They arrived at the whaling station; got help and went to the remaining crew at the other side of the island. Shackleton made good on his promise and came back for his men at Elephant Island. All of them survived.

By this point, I felt nothing but relief.

Why read Endurance?

Why did they have to go through all those? The explorers know. In a way, they are grandfathers to future pioneers; Apollo 11 and the race to the moon, even Elon Musk racing to Mars.

How can you use this information?

Explore. Endure. And continue pushing what’s possible.


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