The late Henry Worsley’s family on Antarctica

In January 2016, Henry Worsley passed away in an attempt to become the first person to cross Antarctica solo without wind-support (unassisted and unsupported). His family is currently on the Continent to experience the place which Henry was so passionate about. He had complete 3 full route expeditions.

“When my hero, Ernest Shackleton, stopped 97 miles from the South Pole on the morning of Sunday the 9th of January 1909, he said he shot his bolt, at 88.23 South. Well, today I have to inform you with great sadness, that I too had shot my bolt. My journey is at an end.” Henry Worsley, January 22, 2016.

Last season, 2015-16, Henry Worsley attempted his third expedition on Antarctica, commemorating the centenary expedition of someone he had huge admiration for, Ernest Shackleton. His aim was to become the first skier to traverse Antarctica solo without wind support (kites). Henry started at Gould Bay, Berkner Island, on November 13, 2015, pulling a sled of nearly 150 kg. He was adamant to do this expedition as a challenge of ultimate self-sufficiency, solo, ’unassisted’, no resupplies, receiving nothing from anybody else on route, not following vehicle tracks.

On Day 51, January 2, 2016, Henry arrived at the Geographic South Pole, taking a rest day before carrying on beyond the Pole. In the last degree of latitude before the Pole he reported that the early starts and long, 12-hour hauling were tiring as he fell asleep on his sled during a break. He said he had to motivate himself during the last degree by telling himself to stop focusing on the end at the Ross Ice Shelf, but rather focus on the closer goal, the South Pole. Temperatures plummeted to -40. His face mask froze and restoring life to his hands and fingers became a constant battle.

On his traverse heading North, Day 66, January 17, Henry reported “a punishing day. White-out. Hellish soft snow sapped every little energy out of my skinny legs.” To make it to the Ross Ice Shelf he had to cover 16nm per day. He had seven days food left, to the 24th, but could stretch it a bit. 67 nm to get to the Shackleton Glacier, the Glacier is 75 nm long; 142 nm to the finish line.

Unfavorable conditions during Days 67-69 hampered Henry’s progress. Poor visibility and soft snow drained his reserves, which was clearly audible in his voice dispatches over the satellite phone. A discouraging report on Day 69 stated, “A very unproductive day, unfortunately, from the realization that I won’t have time to reach the Ice Shelf,” adding that he is in “an extreme weakened state”. Location S86º 22.597, W177º 44.337, covering 3.5 nm in 5 hours. Accumulated Distance 794 Nautical Miles (1,470 km), Altitude 9460 Ft, Temperature -30°C, Wind Speed 3 Mph, white-out conditions.

Staying put in his tent, he called for an evacuation and was picked up on January 22 and flown to Punta Arenas where he was hospitalized and diagnosed with peritonitis. On January 25 Henry’s home team reported, “It is with great sadness that we can confirm that Henry Worsley died on the 24th January 2016 in hospital in Punta Arenas, Chile.”

Henry’s three South Pole Expeditions

This was Henry’s third South Pole expedition, commemorating Shackleton’s Endurance expedition hundred years ago and his intended route, had he set off. Both Henry’s previous routes were full routes (Coast to Pole), starting from the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf, following Scott/Shackleton and Amundsen’s routes, through the Beardmore Glacier (1,480 km) and Axel Heiberg Glacier (1,230 km), respectively. During the 2008-09, expedition Henry carried Shackleton’s compass in his pocket. Back then, Shackleton didn’t reach the Pole, he turned around 97 miles before the Pole. During the 2011-12 expedition, Henry carried the polar medal posthumously awarded to Lawrence (Titus) Oates, a member of Scott’s team.

November 4, 2008, Henry Worsley posted this poem written by Shackleton, from Punta Arenas, where he came across it:

We were the fools who could not rest

In the dull earth we left behind

But burned with passion for the South

And drank strange frenzy from its wind

The world where wise men sit at ease

Fades from our unregretful eyes

And thus across unchartered seas

We stagger on our enterprise

EH Shackleton July 1916

Family at Antarctica

Yesterday, December 12, ALE flew Henry’s wife, Joanna, and two teenage children, Alicia and Max, to Union Glacier, their main base camp, to show her and the kids the Great White Continent, which Henry was so passionate about.

In October Henry’s family announced that, in December 2017, his ashes will be taken to a final resting place in the Whaler’s Cemetery in Grytviken, South Georgia, where he will be laid alongside his hero, Ernest Shackleton.

Previous Exweb Interviews with Henry Worsley:

Antarctic solo traverse: Henry Worsley talks to Exweb/Pythom from Punta Arenas (2015)

Shackleton’s leadership skills, by Henry Worsley (2015)

Exclusive: South Pole anniversary final week interview with Henry Worsley (2012)

ExWeb interview with Henry Worsley and Mark Langridge: Obviously no one will be Going outside for some time (2011)

Previous 2015-16 updates on Explorersweb/Pythom:

Henry Worsley at the South Pole (posted January 3, 2016)

Antarctica: So Near And Yet So far (January 21, 2016)

Antarctica evacuations: Journeys end (January 23, 2016)

South Pole Skier in Hospital (January 24, 2016)

South Pole skier, Henry Worsley, passed away (January 25, 2016)

“Memories of a great friend,” Lou Rudd remembers Henry Worsley (January 26, 2016)

Henry Worsley: Memories and Lessons (January 27, 2016)

Henry Worsley’s other expeditions

Henry Worsley shared Shackleton poem; exhibition in Punta Arenas (November 2008)

Antarctic wrap-up: Shackleton descendants at the South Pole (Jan 2009)

2016-17 season

Front skiers in 85ºS; SPoT vehicles at the Pole – UPDATED

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