Magazine article Geographical

The Last Voyage

Magazine article Geographical

The Last Voyage

Article excerpt

Explorer Henry Worsley passed away last January following in the footsteps of his hero, Sir Ernest Shackleton. Journalist and co-director of Ice Tracks Expeditions, Angie Butler, reports on the plan to reunite the two adventurers one final time

It is a selfless act to have the remains of a loved one returned to a remote and inaccessible place. It is the final goodbye. When Sir Ernest Shackleton died at the age of 47 on the 1922 Quest expedition, his wife Emily insisted that her husband be buried on the island of South Georgia. His body, already in Montevideo en route to England, was turned back and finally laid to rest among the whalers and sailors in Gry tviken.

In 1939, Beatrice, wife of Frank Wild, Shackleton's right-hand man, tried in vain to have her husband's ashes taken to Grytviken to join his beloved 'Boss'. Her efforts were thwarted by the outbreak of the Second World War. For the next 30 years she carried his ashes with her until she died in 1970. I eventually discovered them in Johannesburg and five years ago took them to be interred next to Shackleton.

Now another grieving wife prepares for a final goodbye. Explorer Henry Worsley died on 24 January 2016, some 30 miles from the head of Shackleton glacier, while attempting a solo Antarctic traverse. His ashes will make their final journey across the South Atlantic to be laid to rest with his hero Shackleton in a place that was once described by Frank Wild as '... one of the most perfect little harbours of the world, at times disturbed by the fierce winds from the hills and lashed by the gusty squalls to a mass of flying spume and spindrift ... an ideal resting-place this for the explorer who felt, more than most men, the glamour of such surroundings.'

Lieutenant Colonel Worsley, an SAS veteran, served with the 2nd Royal Green Jackets and later the Rifles. Before his ill-fated expedition he was the only man to have sledge hauled both the Shackleton/Scott route through the Trans Antarctic mountains and the Roald Amundsen route over the Axel Heiberg glacier to the South Pole.

In 2009, in the footsteps of Shackleton, his team reached to within 97 miles of the South Pole on the very day Shackleton did so 100 years earlier. …

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