Henry Worsley, a descendant of famous Captain Frank Worsley from Shackleton’s ship “Endurance”, had attempted to cross the Antarctic continent unaided and alone. After having travelled over 900 miles in 71 days, Worsley fell ill and had to be evacuated and hospitalized. Last Sunday, January 24th, he sadly passed away in Punta Arenas after a multiple organ failure.
Crossing the Antarctic continent has been attempted first by Sir Ernest Shackleton on his famous, but ill-fated “Imperial Transantarctic Expedition” in 1914 – 1917. The story of hardship, near death and miraculous rescue has earned itself a place in the annals of Antarctic exploration. More than 100 years after the unsuccessful attempt, one of the descendants of Shackleton’s crew, Henry Worsley, had the ambitious goal of embarking on a similar expedition and finishing it in the spirit of his idol Sir Ernest Shackleton, notabene unassisted and alone. However, the expedition was also bound to a charity aspect: he had raised more than £100,000 for The Endeavour Fund, a charity organization for helping wounded British soldiers to recover. Henry Worsley has served 36 years in the British Army and has recently retired. He also had led several Antarctic expeditions retracing the steps of Scott, Amundsen and especially his personal hero, Sir Ernest Shackleton.
On November 13th 2015, Henry Worsley arrived on Berkner Island in the Weddell Sea which was the starting point for his expedition to complete the first solo unsupported and unassisted crossing of the Antarctic continent. He estimated 75 – 80 days for the entire expedition, which would take him over the South Pole to the Ross Ice Shelf. After 71 days and having walked 913 statute miles, battling extreme weather conditions and deteriorating health conditions, he made the brave decision to “shoot the bolt” (like Shackleton had said) and ask for an evacuation, only 30 miles short of his ultimate goal.
After being flown to Antarctic Logistics & Expedition camp at Union Glacier and treated for exhaustion and dehydration, he was transferred to Punta Arenas for further medical examination. There, he was diagnosed with a bacterial peritonitis and thus admitted for surgery the next day. However, Henry Worsley passed away on Sunday January 24th. His wife Joanna gave the following statement: “It is with heartbroken sadness I let you know that my husband Henry Worsley has died following complete organ failure; despite all efforts of ALE and medical staff at the Clinica Magallanes in Punta Arenas, Chile. Henry achieved his Shackleton Solo goals: of raising over £100,000 for the Endeavour Fund, to help his wounded colleagues, and so nearly completing the first unsupported crossing of the Antarctic landmass. A crossing made, under exceptionally difficult weather conditions, to mark the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition – his lifelong hero. On behalf of myself and family I wish to thank the many hundreds of you who have shown unfailing support to Henry throughout his courageous final challenge and great generosity to the Endeavour Fund. Donations now total over £106,773.”
The Endeavour Fund is a charity organization which is managed by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Catherine) and Prince Harry. Both have expressed their grief and their condolences to the family of Henry Worsley. The Duke also stated: “We have lost a friend, but he will remain a source of inspiration to us all, especially those who will benefit from his support to The Endeavour Fund.”
In his last statement sent from Antarctica via Satellite phone, Henry stated: “I set out on this journey to attempt the first solo unsupported crossing of the Antarctic landmass, a feat of endurance never before achieved. But more importantly, to raise support for The Endeavour Fund, to assist wounded soldiers in their rehabilitation. Having been a career soldier for 36 years and recently retires, it has been a way of giving back to those less fortunate than me. The 71 days alone in the Antarctic with over 900 statute miles covered and a gradual grinding down of my physical endurance finally took its toll today, and it is with sadness that I report it is journey’s end – so close to my goal.”
Source: Shackleton Solo Communication Team