The Duke of Cambridge met and sent off Henry Worsley a brave adventurer aspiring to become the first solo explorer to cross the Antarctic without assistance or support as he follows in the steps of Sir Ernest Shackleton at Kensington Palace on Monday.
Worsley, aged 55 is a descendant of Frank Worsley, Shackleton’s skipper on the Endurance. The former Army officer will face freezing temperatures, high winds and dangerous ice as he journeys to the South Pole. He then will attempt to travel to the other side of the land mass during an arduous journey presumed to last 75 days.
Prince William, Patron of Worsley’s 2015/16 Shackleton Solo Challenge, commented: “It’s a huge challenge, but there’s no better person than you, we’ll be thinking of you at Christmas.”
A former lieutenant colonel, Worsley wishes to finish Sir Ernest Shackleton’s incomplete journey to the South Pole from the Weddell Sea following part of his proposed route.
Shackleton’s journey that took place 1914 was never completed. After months of fundraising and getting the approval to embark on the epic voyage, Shackleton would see his dreams crushed when his ship the Endurance became trapped in ice floes less than six months after embarking on the adventure.
The ship began to sink four months later, and the crew had to abandon ship. The 27 crewmembers dragged their lifeboats for six months across the frozen Weddell Sea barely surviving before the finally made it to the open waters.
They were able to travel to Elephant Island, which was desolate and remote. Facing life-threatening challenges such as starvation, Shackleton and five of his crew endured an 800-mile trek across glaciers to arrive at the closest outpost in South Georgia.
Shackleton would return to the island on the Yelcho, a steamship to rescue his men. Amazingly enough, all had survived.
Worsley will undertake the treacherous journey on skis pulling a sledge with supplies. He will not receive any aid via supply drops as many expeditions of this type usually do.
On Tuesday, the adventurer will fly to Chile, leaving early next month to travel to his Antarctic logistics base. He will then travel to the starting point at Gould Bay. The Bay is the nearest point to Shackleton’s start at the edge of the Weddell Sea.
Worsley’s goal is to raise £100,000 for the Endeavour Fund, a foundation Prince William, Prince Harry and The Duchess of Cambridge began through their Royal Foundation. The Endeavour Fund provided the necessary finances for sporting and adventure schemes that assist the recovery of wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.
Prior to Shackleton embarking on his journey, King George V gave him a Union flag. When he returned, the flag was presented to the king and is part of the Royal Collection.
A replica of the flag was presented to Worsley by Prince William during today’s send-off. Just as Shackleton returned his flag, Worsley will do the same when he returns from his journey.
“It’s the journey Shackleton planned and never achieved. Most importantly I’m raising money for the Endeavour Fund. As I’ve just left the Army I wanted to leave a financial legacy to my mates,” Worsley commented.