LONDON (AFP) — Three descendants of legendary Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton and his men completed some "unfinished family business" Sunday when they reached the South Pole.
The trio's expedition on foot across Antarctica came 100 years after the Anglo-Irish pioneer was forced to turn back at 97 nautical miles (112 miles, 180 kilometres) from the pole, setting a new furthest south record in the process.
Henry Worsley, 47, Will Gow, 35, and Henry Adams, 34, arrived at the South Pole at 0900 GMT.
"We're absolutely ecstatic," said expedition leader Worsley, speaking by satellite phone.
The army officer is a descendant of Frank Worsley, Shackleton's skipper on the Endurance, the ship used in a following Polar expedition in 1914.
"The past 65 days have been physically gruelling and mentally exhausting, but this moment makes it all very, very worthwhile," he said.
"Ever since I was a child, completing this journey has been my lifetime ambition.
"To stand here, with Shackleton's own compass, which never made it to this point all those years ago, is a humbling experience."
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. The descendants followed the same route.
Only two previous expeditions have succeeded in reaching the pole along this route: Captain Robert Scott's in 1912 and Robert Swan's in 1986.
On January 9, exactly one century on, the trio reached the same spot where Shackleton's team had been were forced to turn back in dreadful conditions and with limited food.
Rather than the ponies and dogs of Shackleton's era, the modern crew has state-of-the-art equipment and navigational aids.
They will fly out from the South Pole, which was first reached by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen on December 14, 1911, five weeks ahead of Scott.
They will also be joined by three other members of their expedition -- Shackleton team descendants David Cornell, 38, Tim Fright, 25, as well as Andrew Ledger, 23 -- who flew out to the 97-nautical-mile point on January 9 to complete the final leg. They should reach the South Pole by late Monday GMT.
The expedition can be followed on www.shackletoncentenary.org.
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