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Antarctic trek revisited

(China Daily/Agencies) Updated: 2013-01-25 10:20

Antarctic trek revisited

This photo released on Thursday shows a British-Australian team prior to their departure on the expedition on Elephant Island off the Antarctic Peninsula. On the same day, the team got under way in their re-creation of Ernest Shackleton's perilous 1916 crossing of the Southern Ocean in a small boat. [Photo/Agencies]

Team to make sea crossing in small boat.

A British-Australian expedition re-creating Ernest Shackleton's perilous 1916 crossing of the Southern Ocean in a small boat set off on Thursday, braced for fearsome seas and icy, bleak conditions.

Led by renowned adventurer Tim Jarvis, the team of six plans to sail 1,480 km in a spartan lifeboat from Elephant Island off the Antarctic Peninsula to rugged South Georgia.

While there were unusually moderate winds and a small swell as they pushed off, the team was heading for looming pack ice to the east as they bid to relive part of what is widely regarded as one of the greatest-ever survival tales.

They plan to use only the equipment, navigational instruments and food available to Shackleton during his 16-day voyage before facing a two-day climb to 900 meters over the mountainous, crevassed interior of South Georgia.

That will take them to the old whaling station at Stromness on the other side of the island, where Shackleton and his crew, with little more than the clothes on their backs, raised the alarm about the sinking of their ship, the Endurance.

"We are well aware of the dangers but believe we have a good little boat (an exact replica of the original James Caird), a great team and the spirit and courage to be able to honor the legend of Shackleton," Jarvis said.

"I hope this expedition not only does his memory justice but also reminds us all of how incredibly beautiful, yet fragile, this part of the world is," the environmental scientist and polar explorer added as the boat left.

He said he was expecting "constant hardship," and the crew would need to be vigilant, with icebergs and whales among the obstacles they expect to face.

Along with Norway's Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole, in 1911; Australian explorer Douglas Mawson; and Briton Robert Falcon Scott - his patron-turned-rival - Shackleton was among the great Antarctic explorers.

When he set off on his third trip to the region in 1914 with the ship Endurance, he planned to cross Antarctica via the South Pole. But the vessel became trapped in 1915, and sank 10 months later when it was crushed by the advancing ice. Shackleton and his crew lived on the floating ice until April 1916, when they set off in three small boats for Elephant Island. From there, Shackleton made the treacherous voyage to South Georgia.

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