Pictures of Antarctica
Antarctica Picture | Antarctica Cruise | Facts | History | Boots | Store | Clothes | Whales  | Books | Video | Schools | Forum | Site Map | FIDS / OAE's

Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922)
British Imperial Antarctic Expedition - Nimrod - 1907 -1909

History: The Heroic Age | Historical timeline | Geological timeline | Ships of the explorers | Explorers quiz Antarctic Expeditions crew lists and biographies
Explorers: Amundsen Fram pictures | von Bellingshausen - Vostok and Mirny | Borschgrevink - Southern Cross | Bruce - Scotia | Charcot Français Pourquoi-Pas? | Dumont D'Urville - Astrolabe and Zéléé | von Drygalski - Gauss | de Gerlache - Belgica | Mawson Aurora | Nordenskjöld - Antarctic | Ross - Erebus and Terror | Scott: Discovery South Pole The journey to the pole Pictures | Shackleton: Nimrod Endurance Quest
Ebooks: The South Pole - Amundsen | Home of the Blizzard - Mawson | Last Expedition - Scott | South - Shackleton

Ernest Shackleton led his  first expedition to Antarctica on the Nimrod. One of the objectives of the journey was to reach the South Pole. It was the second time that he tried, the first being with Robert Scott on the Discovery expedition in 1902. On that occasion he had come to within 480 miles of the Pole, this time the distance reduced, but it was still to remain an elusive goal for Shackleton.


Sir Ernest Shackleton


The Nimrod


Nimrod sailing in the tropics en route for Antarctica


The Towing Steamer Koonya as Seen from the Nimrod in a heavy sea

picture courtesy NOAA
"Day with the Motor-car on the sea ice"

Day was the mechanic with responsibility for the running of the car

picture courtesy NOAA
"Motor hauling stores for a depot"

The Nimrod expedition was the first to take a recently invented motor-car to Antarctica, it kept breaking down through over-heating and getting stuck in even shallow snow.


"A Quiet Evening on the Barrier"

From "The Heart of the Antarctic", Volume I, by E. H. Shackleton, 1909.


"The Aurora Australis"

From "The Heart of the Antarctic", Volume I, by E. H. Shackleton, 1909. P.212


"The Southern Party on Board the Nimrod. Left to right - Wild, Shackleton, Marshall, Adams.

From: "The Heart of the Antarctic", Volume I, by E. H. Shackleton, 1909. P. 364.


Nimrod Returns

From: "The Heart of the Antarctic", Volume I,
by E. H. Shackleton, 1909. P. 122

Book "Heart of the Antarctic" from: USA  UK


Nimrod, Shackleton's Forgotten Expedition
by Beau Riffenburgh (book)
Buy USA
 Buy UK

Free world delivery
Originally a Yorkshire family, the Shackleton's had moved to County Kildare in Ireland where Ernest was born on February 15th 1874. His father hoped for Ernest to enter the field of medicine, though Ernest had other ideas, at the age of 16 he joined his first ship sailing out of Liverpool. He took naturally to a life at sea and progressed through the ranks, by the time he was 24 he was qualified to command a British ship anywhere she may be.

In the summer of 1900, Shackleton volunteered for the National Antarctic Expedition that Robert Falcon Scott was in the process of arranging. He was accepted as third lieutenant in charge of holds, stores, provisions and deep sea water analysis and left on this expedition in 1901, the Discovery expedition.

This was not a successful voyage for Shackleton as he became ill with scurvy and though wanting to remain in the south had to be taken back home earlier than he wished on the relief ship Morning.

Shackleton was chosen to be leader of an expedition to leave for Antarctica in 1907 aboard the ship Nimrod, not the first choice of ship, but as in many Antarctic expeditions, one forced by the available budget. The Nimrod sailed initially for New Zealand on August 7th 1907.

From New Zealand, the Nimrod was towed by another vessel the Koonya in order to save coal that would be used at a great rate once the ship met pack ice. Douglas Mawson an Australian geologist had secured a place on the expedition and the subsequent journey to the South magnetic pole. On January 14th 1908, the an iceberg was sighted for the first time, shortly afterwards the Koonya cast her line off and the Nimrod sailed free and was now on her own.

"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success."
From an advertisement (almost certainly apocryphal as it has been attributed both to Shackleton's Nimrod and also to the Endurance expeditions)

By necessity rather than design, the Nimrod entered McMurdo sound, the original landing place (the Bay of Whales) being too congested with heavy pack ice and icebergs. She anchored to the sea ice edge some 16 miles from where the hut was to be erected at Hut Point, preparations were made for unloading, but this was delayed to allow the ice to break up further back to Hut Point. By February 3rd the ice had indeed broken back to Hut Point and so the Nimrod was fastened alongside the ice foot and unloading began. Shackleton had brought ponies for transport and a motor car especially adapted for Antarctic conditions. The ponies did not fare well on the journey and were in poor condition, one had been injured and had to be shot during the journey, another was shot on arrival. The temperature was now consistently cold and below -20°C. The Nimrod left the landing party and headed back towards New Zealand on February 22nd.

Scientific reading and observations began immediately, particularly meteorological and biological of the seas through cracks in the ice. A party of six succeeded in the first ascent of the 4023m (13,200-ft) nearby volcano Mount Erebus. The base then embarked on the mundane chores of winter life livening them with distractions wherever possible, but in the main life slowed and chores filled the time available, the cold and wind making even simple activities become much more involved and time consuming. There were of course tensions to be expected of such disparate characters living closely together

Come the spring the plans for sledging parties made over the winter started to be put into action. Shackleton, Adams, Marshall and Wild would head south for the Pole.

Another party led by Edgeworth David, (aged 50 at the time) with Mackay and Mawson would set out to reach the southern magnetic pole, itself a 1260 mile journey. This latter party had no experience of Antarctic exploration at all and did not have the help of dogs or ponies, they did however have the motor car taken on the expedition and used it to establish two depots, 10 and 15 miles from the winter base. Ironically the car suffered from overheating of the engine and the men had to wait in the cold for it to cool down again before it could run. They set out on September 25th 1908 and were soon running out of food, having to ration themselves quite strictly by early November. They soon learnt the lessons of Antarctica from brushes with disaster as each of the men and the sledge fell or nearly fell into ever present crevasses. Snow blindness sunburn and frostbite made travelling all the more difficult, but by January 15th 1909 they reached the southern magnetic pole, photographs were duly taken and the Union Flag hoisted.

"I hereby take possession of this area now containing the Magnetic Pole for the British Empire"
Edgeworth David

On the return journey they worked out that to reach the arranged depot and signal the Nimrod on time, they had to cover 17 miles per day from January 17th to February 5th. They were within a mile of the depot on February 5th when the Nimrod was heard signalling with a gun. By that afternoon, they were aboard the ship and luxuriating in the tea, food and being able to have a bath for the first time since September. David felt that had they had dogs, they could have completed the 1260 miles in half the time.

The polar party led by Shackleton left on a fine day on October 29th 1908. Only those who have experienced Antarctica directly can appreciate the feeling of exhilaration, and excitement that setting out on a journey on a fine day in the Antarctic spring can give.

They had ponies on this journey, but they became weak and caused problems as much as they helped solve them. Adams was kicked under the knee and the bone exposed on the first day out. Rations were very short and the men soon became very hungry. The weakest pony was shot on November 21st, some of the meat eaten and the rest depoted. On November the 26th they passed the previous furthest south point reached by Robert Scott (a trip that Shackleton was also on) in 1902. A further two ponies were shot soon afterwards, this freed up some of the food and the men began eating pony maize.

Christmas was celebrated with some carefully held back treats, plum pudding, brandy, cigars and a spoonful of crème de menthe each. By December 27th, they were on the polar plateau at an altitude of 10,200 feet with the wind against them, suffering from a lack of food and with hands and feet almost on the point of frostbite. Shackleton was aware of the worsening situation, knowing that they only had a limited time in the light of their rations and physical state. They battled southwards into blizzards, sometimes the blizzards kept them in their sleeping bags all day. On January 9th they reached their furthest south point of 88°23'S, just 97 miles from the pole. A flag was planted and photographs taken, they turned around and began to head for home.

Farthest South - l to r - Adams, Wild and Shackleton

"I thought, dear, that you would rather have a live ass than a dead lion."
Sir Ernest Shackleton to his wife Emily, after deciding to turn back 97 miles from the Pole.


On the journey back, the wind that they had battled against was behind them, they used a sail on the sledge and rushed across the ice making up to 29 miles a day. They were able to obtain food from the depots they had lain on the outward journey including the meat from the ponies and so by contrast to earlier weeks were well fed and relatively content. They reached Hut Point to find a note saying that the Nimrod was sheltering nearby, burning the magnetic hut to provide a signal summoned the Nimrod they were soon safe aboard. They had walked 1700 miles.

Next Shackleton pages, the Trans-Antarctic expedition

The Nimrod Expeditioners

Historical photographs on this page by permission of National Library of Australia


Full Moon in the Winter

From: "The Heart of the Antarctic", Volume I,
by E. H. Shackleton, 1909. P. 122


The Returning Sun

From: "The Heart of the Antarctic", Volume I,
by E. H. Shackleton, 1909. P. 26


A Blizzard on the Barrier

From: "The Heart of the Antarctic", Volume I,
by E. H. Shackleton, 1909. P. 82

The Nimrod Expeditioners

 The Heroic age of Antarctic Exploration
Roald Amundsen

Douglas Mawson
Robert Falcon Scott


Ernest Shackleton Prints


The Beginning of the End

The Endurance is gripped by the ice and is tilted over before being crushed


The Agony of The Endurance
Dogs at rest beside the crushed and soon to be sunk Endurance

  Explorer Ernest Shackleton's Ship "Endurance" Trapped and Slowly Crushed by Ice in Weddell Sea Photographic Print
"Endurance" Trapped and Slowly
Crushed by Ice in Weddell Sea

The "Discovery" Frozen in During the Scott Shackleton and Wilson Exploration of the Antarctic Giclee Print
The "Discovery" Frozen in

During the Scott / Shackleton and Wilson Exploration of the Antarctic

Ernest Shackleton Preparing for a Trans-Antarctic Expedition
Photographic Print

Lt. Shackleton, Captain Scott and Dr. Wilson, Antarctica
Photographic Print

Ernest Shackleton's Expedition Reached Within 100 Miles of the South Pole
Photographic Print
Shackleton's South Pole Car Giclee Print
Shackleton's South Pole Car

Giclee Print

Ernest Shackleton, Irish Antarctic Explorer
Photographic Print

Ernest Shackleton
Giclee Print
Sir Ernest Shackleton Explorer c.1909 Photographic Print
Sir Ernest Shackleton Explorer c.1909

 Photographic Print

Sir Ernest Shackleton
Photo
Search for more Shackleton pictures
Recommended Books DVD's and VHS

Endurance, The Greatest Adventure Story Ever Told, book
Endurance : Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
Alfred Lansing (Preface)
Buy USA   Buy UK
Free world delivery


South with Endurance:
Frank Hurley - official photographer
Buy USA   Buy UK
Free world delivery

South: The Story of Shackleton's Last Expedition, 1914-17
South! Ernest Shackleton
Shackleton's own words
Buy USA   Buy UK
Free world delivery
Shackleton's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer
Shackleton's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer
Buy USA   Buy UK
Free world delivery

Shackleton's Boat Journey: The narrative of Frank Worsley
Buy USA  Buy UK
Free world delivery

Shackleton
biography by Roland
Huntford
Buy USA   Buy UK
Free world delivery

The Quest for Frank Wild
biography by Angie Butler
USA  UK
Free world delivery

The Endurance : Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition
by Caroline Alexander
Buy USA   Buy UK
Free world delivery

Mrs. Chippy's Last Expedition:
The Remarkable Journal of Shackleton's Polar-Bound Cat
Buy USA   Buy UK
Free world delivery

Shackleton's Forgotten Men
Lennard Bickel
Buy USA
   Buy UK
Free world delivery
Tom Crean an Illustrated Life: Unsung Hero of the Scott & Shackleton Expeditions
Tom Crean: Unsung Hero
biography by Michael Smith

Buy USA  Buy UK
Free world delivery
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World, The True Story of the Endurance Expedition
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World -
Jennifer Armstrong
for ages 12 and up
Buy USA    Buy UK
Free world delivery
Movies / Documentaries
South - Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition
South - Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition (1919)
original footage
Buy from Amazon USA DVD  Buy from Amazon UK DVD
Shackleton - The Greatest Survival Story of All Time (3-Disc Collector's Edition)
Shackleton
dramatization
Kenneth Branagh (2002)
Buy from Amazon USA DVD  Buy from Amazon UK DVD
Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure (Large Format)
Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure (2001)
IMAX dramatization
Buy from Amazon USA DVD  Buy from Amazon UK DVD
The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition
The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Expedition (2000)
PBS NOVA, dramatization with original footage
Buy from Amazon USA DVD  Buy from Amazon UK DVD


Cool Antarctica Store - Pictures, Shirts, Calendars, Cards etc.



Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository


Lonely Planet travel guide Antarctica
Buy from Amazon USA USA  |  Buy from Amazon UK UK
Free world delivery


Frozen Planet
Buy from Amazon USA DVD  |  Buy from Amazon UK DVD


Shackleton
Buy from Amazon USA DVD  |  Buy from Amazon UK DVD


The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Expedition
Dramatization with original footage

Buy from Amazon USA DVD  |  Buy from Amazon UK DVD


Custom Search

Home | Site Map | Pictures | Antarctica Stock Photos | Facts | History | Antarctica Travel | Antarctic Clothing | Video | Books | Calendars
FIDS | Feedback | Buy pictures | Find a trip to Antarctica | Whales | Photography | Women's Winter Boots Sale | Schools | Jewelry

Copyright  ©  2001 Paul Ward  |  copyright issues  |  privacy policy  |