LONDON (AFP) — Descendants of legendary Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton and his men made it Friday to the record-breaking furthest point south that the pioneering hero reached -- a century to the day later.
The trio reached 97 nautical miles (112 miles, 180 kilometres) from the South Pole, exactly 100 years on since Anglo-Irish Shackleton's team were forced to turn back in dreadful conditions with limited food.
Now the team of descendants plan to go on to the Pole and complete some "unfinished family business," said expedition leader Henry Worsley, 47.
Worsley said it was "exactly 100 years to the day that those four brave and extraordinary men stood where we are camped now."
He is a descendant of Frank Worsley, Shackleton's skipper on the Endurance, the ship used in a following Polar expedition in 1914.
"We will continue tomorrow and take their spirits with us the remaining 97 miles to the South Pole," he added, on the expedition's online diary.
The Nimrod Expedition of 1908-1909, the first of Shackleton's ill-fated attempts to reach the South Pole, got further south than anyone had ever been before.
Henry Adams, 33, a great-grandson of Shackleton's number two, Jameson Boyd-Adams, added: "Our thoughts and emotions are slightly muffled by weariness and reflection.
"We've been taken aback by the severity of the cold and the difficulty of pulling our burdens through thin air of the polar plateau. But we have plugged on with intent, we've remained positive and always aware of the size of the footsteps we are following.
"What we find unfathomable is the fact that 100 years ago today, they were about to embark on a 700-mile return journey, utterly defeated, and with so little food.
"We are in awe of their extraordinary positive attitude, their panache and, especially on their return journey, their indomitable will to survive in terrible circumstances.
"They were truly great men. Pioneers. We are neither. But as we stand at their furthest south, we have never been prouder to be their descendants."
The explorers are following the same 80-day route chosen for the Nimrod Expedition.
Rather than the ponies and dogs of Shackleton's era, the crew has modern equipment and navigational aids and will fly out from the South Pole, first reached by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen on December 14, 1911.
Shackleton's diary for January 9, 1909 reads: "Our last day outwards. We have shot our bolt, and the tale is latitude 88 degrees, 23 minutes south, longitude 162 degrees east.
"At 4 A.M. started south, with the Queen's Union Jack, a brass cylinder containing stamps and documents to place at the furthest south point, camera, glasses, and compass.
"We hoisted Her Majesty's flag and the other Union Jack afterwards, and took possession of the plateau in the name of His Majesty.
"While the Union Jack blew out stiffly in the icy gale that cut us to the bone, we looked south with our powerful glasses... we feel sure that the goal we have failed to reach lies on this plain.
"We stayed only a few minutes, and then, taking the Queen's flag and eating our scanty meal as we went, we hurried back.
"We were so dead tired that we only did two hours' march in the afternoon and camped at 5:30 P.M. The temperature was minus 19 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 28 degrees Celsius).
"Homeward bound at last. Whatever regrets may be, we have done our best."
The expedition can be followed on www.shackletoncentenary.org.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »