Along with Scott and Amundsen, Ernest Shackleton was one of the world’s greatest polar explorers. From 1901 to 1904, Shackleton accompanied Scott into the Antarctic.
In 1907, he returned, this time in command of his own expedition and determined to be the first man to the South Pole. Like Scott, Shackleton preferred ponies to dogs.
He took ten with him, but two perished before he landed on the continent and another seven died from the cold or from eating volcanic grit in the snow. Still, Shackleton and three companions pressed on. A crevasse suddenly opened underneath the expedition and the last pony disappeared into the gaping crack.
Shackleton led the men for another month, up to a plateau 11,200 feet above sea level, where a blizzard forced them into their tent for 60 hours. “We simply lie here shivering,” wrote Shackleton. If one of their feet was frozen, they placed it on the skin of their companion to warm it up again.
The cold was too much. Just 97 miles from the Pole, Shackleton turned back. He returned to his native England a hero, but also, as a newspaper described him, a “splendid failure.”