Sir Ernest Shackleton-expedition leader

Sir Ernest Shackleton organized an ambitious, daring expedition to the Antarctic in order to traverse it using dogs and skis.."From the sentimental point of view," he wrote, "it is the last great Polar journey that can be made.... There now remains the largest and most striking of all journeys-the crossing of the Continent." He was handsome, optimistic, and was considered by all to possess a romantic point of view that allowed him to embrace a challenge with courage and grace. Shackleton was the last explorer of the Heroic Age of exploration and one of history's exemplary leaders. He was 40 years old, Anglo-Irish, and the son of a physician.

Frank Hurley-expedition photographer

Respected for his many skills including photography, Frank Hurley had a pompous streak born from confidence and fearlessness. Gritty, energetic and enthusiastic, and extraordinarily fit, this rugged Australian shunned hat and gloves when he photographed-despite the extreme cold. When the glass plates began to sink along with the pack-ice battered Endurance, he stripped to the waist and dove into the frigid water to salvage them.

Frank Wild-second in command


Frank Wild was as respectful of Shackleton as the men were of him. An easygoing leader, aged 40, Wild nonetheless obtained results. When he told a man to jump, wrote one of the crew members, :that man jumped pretty quick." While on a perilous Antarctic march during a previous expedition, Shackleton gave Wild some of his scarce rations. This generous and considerate act secured Wild's undying loyalty. Wild handled most of the petty complaints, and resolved grievances successfully with compassionate listening.

Frank Worsely-ship's captain


Frank Worsley was, for the most part, a man without a job. Once the Endurance was trapped and lost, his primary mission was concluded. Worsley was from England, though his family relocated to New Zealand. Educated and middle class, they chose to live as pioneers. The rugged outdoors life appealed to Worsley and by 16, he apprenticed on a clipper. An expert sailor, he was hale and hardy. He took baths in the snow and slept outside of his cabin in 0° F. temperatures. His zeal created some concern for Shackleton, who never fully trusted the man's spirited temperament.

The Endurance


The three-masted, coal-burning ship Shackleton purchased from a Norwegian shipyard, traditionally a supplier of polar vessels. A 300-ton barquentine, 144 feet long, built of planks of oak and Norwegian fir up to 2 ½ feet thick, and sheathed in greenheart, a tough wood difficult to work with but durable. Shackleton named her after his family motto: by endurance we conquer.

Owd Bob and the sixty-eight other dogs

Shackleton arranged for sixty-nine Canadian sledge dogs to be delivered to Endurance while docked in Buenos Aires en route to Elephant Island and the Antarctic. The animals were a hardy lot, a mongrel-like mix of wolf, collie, bloodhound, great dane, and various other breeds. To the men's amazement, they loved to sleep outside of their kennels in the snow, and though they required a lot of attention and exercise, the men grew deeply attached. The dogs provided much entertainment in the way of affection, races, and raucous behavior.

Mrs. Chippy

This spirited tabby cat terrorized the poor dogs, tied up on deck and powerless to retaliate. Later discovered to be a male, Mrs. Chippy liked to romp across the tops of the kennels. Full of character, Mrs. Chippy's primary caretaker was the ship's carpenter, Henry McNish, who had the nickname Chippy. Exhibition curator Caroline Alexander has written a book about this endearing life force.

The crew


Twenty-seven men, comprised of sailors, scientists, and officers, survived hardships most cannot imagine. Routinely they subjugated their animosities and their egos for the greater good. Despite the rigid class system of the era, Shackleton tended to blur class lines, opting for camaraderie and team spirit. Regarding the essential relationship between crew and leader, Shackleton's commands were followed due to trust, admiration, and respect.

All photos are property of Scott Polar Institute except
for Endurance beset which is property of the Royal Geographic Society