Job done on epic Shackleton journey

Cold comfort ... Expedition leader Tim Jarvis, left, and mountaineer Barry Gray and their crew travelled 1482km.
Cold comfort ... Expedition leader Tim Jarvis, left, and mountaineer Barry Gray and their crew travelled 1482km.

THEY'VE done it. Nineteen freezing, frost-bitten, dangerous days after they set out in the Antarctic, Tim Jarvis and his crew arrived at the Stromness whaling station.

Mr Jarvis, Royal Marine Barry Gray and navigator Paul Larsen have completed their epic recreation of the 1916 rescue mission by pioneering explorer Ernest Shackleton - an 1482-kilometre ocean crossing from Elephant Island to South Georgia followed by a climb across steep, hostile mountains. Shackleton and his men raised the alarm that the crew of the trapped Endurance ship needed rescue, almost 100 years ago.

Mr Jarvis and his team had expected to start the climb across the interior last Friday, with a break in the weather, but it was short-lived. Three other team members, who had completed the journey in a small open lifeboat replica from remote Elephant Island to South Georgia, were unable to undertake the icy climb, stricken by trench foot.

A blizzard pinned down the reduced team for 24 hours atop the plateau at Shackleton's Gap. Later, when the blizzard passed, they began the 72-hour climb across South Georgia's mountainous interior

''It was epic, really epic, and we've arrived here against the odds,'' Mr Jarvis, a veteran polar adventurer, said. ''The ice climb at the Tridents is a serious thing and Shackleton didn't exaggerate - with ice at 50 degrees [angles], with one wrong foot, we could have careened down a crevasse. It was the same for the Crean and Fortuna glacier. We had more than 20 crevasse falls up to our knees and Baz fell into a crevasse up to his armpits, Paul and I had to haul him out.''

Before they embarked on this part of the journey, Mr Jarvis wrote a letter in case something happened to him. Luckily, he can now throw it in the bin. As the news came through, none was more excited than Mr Jarvis' wife Elizabeth, at home in Adelaide with their two children.

''I was a bit worried over the last couple of days with all the danger they faced,'' Mrs Jarvis said. She kept in constant contact throughout the journey, but the pair's young children, William and Jack, couldn't quite grasp what their dad was up to.

But home is still a way off for the keen adventurers. Next they will travel to London to face the Royal Geographical Society to talk about their harrowing journey. Beyond that, the exhausted adventurer had a sensible plan. ''In the future, I think I'm going to do warmer expeditions,'' he said.

This story Job done on epic Shackleton journey first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.