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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

From the Midway: Is it cold enough for you?

Friday, February 22, 2008

As of Feb. 15, I am officially sick of winter. I was trying to make it until next month but the old man final beat me down. In year's past I have always taken pride in myself on the fact that winter doesn't get me down.

Each morning, I look out my window and for the last week the snow pile in my driveway has been growing. I tried in vain to keep the driveway clean. I have shoveled the darn thing out at least seven times this winter; as of yesterday the pile has grown to reach my chin.

For the past several weeks, I been hearing grumbles and moans from people I meet in the street. All complaining about nothing that any us can do anything about.

Whenever winter gets me really down, like it has for the last week or so, a certain story always comes to mind. It is a story of extreme survival and is one of the most amazing stories I've have every come upon. I would like to share this story with you fateful readers.

After reading this story you may just find that we really don't have it as bad as we think we do and I hope that this story may give some hope that spring will be here soon.

The following is taken of the PBS website. It is a brief recap of the story of Sir Ernest Shackelton's experience in the Antarctic.

In December 1914, Shackleton set sail with his 27-man crew, many of whom, it is said, had responded to the following recruitment notice: "Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success. --Ernest Shackleton."

Ice conditions were unusually harsh, and the wooden ship, which Shackleton had renamed Endurance after his family motto, Fortitudine Vincimus--"by endurance we conquer," became trapped in the pack ice of the Weddell Sea. For 10 months, the Endurance drifted, locked within the ice, until the pressure crushed the ship. With meager food, clothing and shelter, Shackleton and his men were stranded on the ice floes, where they camped for five months.

When they had drifted to the northern edge of the pack, encountering open leads of water, the men sailed the three small lifeboats they'd salvaged to a bleak crag called Elephant Island. They were on land for the first time in 497 days; however, it was uninhabited and, due to its distance from shipping lanes, provided no hope for rescue.

Recognizing the severity of the physical and mental strains on his men, Shackleton and five others immediately set out to take the crew's rescue into their own hands. In a 22-foot lifeboat named the James Caird, they accomplished the impossible, surviving a 17-day, 800-mile journey through the world's worst seas to South Georgia Island, where a whaling station was located.

The six men landed on an uninhabited part of the island, however, so their last hope was to cross 26 miles of mountains and glaciers, considered impassable, to reach the whaling station on the other side. Starved, frostbitten and wearing rags, Shackleton and two others made the trek and, in August 1916, 21 months after the initial departure of the Endurance, Shackleton himself returned to rescue the men on Elephant Island. Although they'd withstood the most incredible hardship and privation, not one member of the 28-man crew was lost.

To learn more about the Endurance expedition, visit the NOVA/PBS Online Adventure site:

Mike Leckband
From the Midway