Three explorers retrace century-old expedition

Three explorers retrace century-old expedition

One-hundred years ago Sir Ernest Shackleton, along with Kiwi captain Frank Worsley and Irish explorer Tom Crean, trekked 30 miles across the sub-Antarctic island South Georgia to get help for their stranded crew.

The trio were forced to make the epic trip after their ship was crushed near Antarctica.

Now, three young explorers are about to retrace the epic journey.

There were perfect conditions for a training session on north Canterbury's Mount Cheeseman – a different picture from the icy blizzards faced by Sir Ernest and his two crew members in their legendary survival mission in 1915.

But for Tom Mctavish this will be the adventure of a lifetime.

"Well, who wouldn't want the opportunity to ski in the footsteps of Shackleton across such a remarkable sub-Antarctic island as South Georgia?" he says.

Mr McTavish, alongside Irish adventurer Sinead Hunt and Anglo-Kiwi James Blake, were selected by the Antarctic Heritage Trust to recreate the expedition as modern-day counterparts of Sir Ernest, Mr Crean and Mr Worsley.

The SS Endurance was crushed by sea ice as it neared Antarctica on a polar expedition.

Sir Ernest and his crew sailed and rowed more than 1000 kilometres to South Georgia where he, Mr Crean and Mr Worsley, trekked 36 hours to a whaling station.

One-hundred-twenty-eight days after they left, the remaining crew were rescued.

For Mr Blake, Sir Ernest's bravery and triumph featured in bedtime stories told by his father, Sir Peter.

"The idea of the three guys that had done it 100 years ago – I grew up with their stories, and so being able to do it now in a modern-day environment was really exciting," he says.

A keen skier and climber, Mr McTavish grew up in the South Island fishing village of Moeraki.

"Frank Worsley, who was the captain on the original endurance expedition, he was also a small-town New Zealander," he says.

Ms Hunt has trained in the mountains and also has a strong link to the Irish explorer.

"Tom Crean was a military man as well – he served in the Royal Navy – and I'm currently serving, like my father and grandfather have before, with the Irish army," she says.

The trio are making their way to the Falklands where they will board a ship bound for King Haakon Bay in South Georgia.

They will don their skis and begin to mark the legacy of the early explorers and inspire those of the future.

3 News