Glasgow Digital Library Voyage of the Scotia BRUCE PEOPLE SHIP ANTARCTIC INDEX
Scotland and the Antarctic

Section 3: Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen ... Shackleton's Imperial Transantarctic Expedition

South Georgia

image from Voyage of the Scotia

Shackleton suggested that the fittest - himself, Worsley and Crean - make the overland trip 30km (20 miles) to the whaling station at Stromness. There was plenty of food for the remaining three. After five days of rest Shackleton and his colleagues moved the boat further up the bay to Peggotty Camp before setting off across the icy mountains to the north.

The mountains of South Georgia are known for their poor weather, but fortunately on this occasion the conditions were good although the party was ill-equipped - their clothes were threadbare and they were all suffering from fatigue.

The party had no sleeping bags and hoped to complete the journey with only stops for meals. The carpenter McNeish had made a small sledge and fixed screws into their worn footwear to give them a grip on the ice. They had a chart of the north coast made by Filchner in 1911. They left Peggotty Camp at 2am and by 5am could see Possession Bay after climbing over 600 metres (2000 feet). The party had to turn back on several occasions as they were stopped by vertical cliffs and steep downward slopes.

The next morning, at 7am, they heard the steam whistle of the whaling station, but it was 4pm before they knocked on the station manager's door. Three scarecrows with blackened faces and matted beards stood together. 'I'm Shackleton,' the leader said. 'Tell me, when was the war over?'

The party learnt for the first time of the millions who had died in the war, of poisonous gas, submarine warfare and battles in the air.

The party at Haakon Bay was picked up and sent home. Shackleton's main aim was to rescue the Elephant Island party. The first attempt from South Georgia was in the whaler Southern Sky but the pack was too thick to penetrate. They returned to the Falkland Islands.

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Glasgow Digital Library Voyage of the Scotia BRUCE PEOPLE SHIP ANTARCTIC INDEX