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16-May-2017 14:58

Although he was not physically overpowering, he competed as if something were gnawing at him, diving head first after balls and skiing off marked trails to plunge through murderous woods.

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Every direction he turned, he could see ice stretching to the edge of the Earth: white ice and blue ice, glacial-ice tongues and ice wedges. And, whereas Shackleton had been part of a large expedition, Worsley, who was fifty-five, was crossing alone and unsupported: no food caches had been deposited along the route to help him forestall starvation, and he had to haul all his provisions on a sled, without the assistance of dogs or a sail. Worsley’s sled—which, at the outset, weighed three hundred and twenty-five pounds, nearly double his own weight—was attached to a harness around his waist, and to drag it across the ice he wore cross-country skis and pushed forward with poles in each hand.

And so it remained all day and has showed no sliver of change this evening.

Navigation under such circumstances is always a challenge. I reckon I lost about three miles’ distance today from snaking around, head permanently bowed to read the compass, just my shuffling skis to look at for nine hours.

Some are actuated simply by a love of adventure, some have the keen thirst for scientific knowledge, and others again are drawn away from the trodden paths by the ‘lure of little voices,’ the mysterious fascination of the unknown.” The book was illustrated with photographs from the expedition, and Worsley stared at them in wonder.

There was the hut, crammed with a stove and canned goods and a phonograph, where Shackleton and his men had wintered on Ross Island, off the coast of Antarctica.One day, he retrieved a copy of “The Heart of the Antarctic,” Shackleton’s account of his gallant but doomed attempt, in 1907-09, to reach the South Pole.(The journey was known as the Nimrod expedition, for the ship he had commanded.) Worsley read the opening lines: “Men go out into the void spaces of the world for various reasons.To Henry, his father often seemed like a Biblical force: commanding, revered, looming but absent.