Solo Antarctic Explorer Dies Just Short of Goal
Even before the 55-year-old former army officer made the agonizing call, his journey was full of harrowing moments. Continue reading →
British explorer Henry Worsley set out in November to become the first person to traverse Antarctica solo.
After 913 miles and suffering from a stomach infection, he was airlifted to a hospital in Chile on Friday, where he died over the weekend.
Worsley had been skiing, hauling a sled, unaided. Even before the 55-year-old former army officer made the agonizing decision to call for help only 30 miles from the finish, his journey was full of harrowing moments.
The idea was to follow in the footsteps of famous polar explorer Ernest Shackleton. He skied in whiteout conditions. He got stuck in his tent for several days during a blizzard that killed a penguin colony. His freeze-dried food supply started getting low. He changed his underwear once in 70 days. More recently he lost a front tooth biting into a frozen energy bar.
Unaided meant literally no aid, but he did have to do a daily check-in to make sure he was safe. Two missed calls would prompt a rescue.
"The daily phone call is a slight pain in the ass, but you can cut it down to almost a minute," he told National Geographic before his trip. "And then just have the rest of time without the hand of man being anywhere - that's really what I'm after." Worsley did listen to music, though, including David Bowie.
Last week he suffered from exhaustion and dehydration that caused him to be trapped in his tent. At a clinic in Punta Arenas, Chile, the medical staff found he had a deadly infection of the stomach lining. Complete organ failure followed.
Worsley used the expedition to raise money for the Endeavour Fund, a British charity to help wounded officers. He leaves behind his wife, Joanna and two children Alicia and Max. Follow the latest updates and add your thoughts with #Antarctic and #HenryWorsley on Twitter.
This isn't the post I had planned to write. Having followed his progress since November, I was sure he would make it. The man was so brave, so persistent, and doing everything unaided, alone. Look how far he'd gone, too. Reading the news this morning that he had died was heartbreaking.
You're not alone now, Henry. You're definitely not alone.
Antarctic Heritage Trust conservators recently made a stunning discovery: a box of 22 exposed but unprocessed negatives, frozen in a block of ice for nearly one hundred years. The negatives were recovered from a corner of a supply hut that British explorer Robert Falcon Scott established to support his doomed expedition to the South Pole from 1910-1913. Scott and his men reached the South Pole but died on the trip home. The hut was next used by the Ross Sea Party of Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914-1917 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition after they were stranded on Ross Island when their ship, the Aurora, blew out to sea. This party is believed to have left behind the undeveloped negatives. The cellulose nitrate negatives are seen here as they were found -- frozen in ice.
The Antarctic Heritage Trust tapped conservator Mark Strange to painstakingly separate, clean (including removing mold) and consolidate the 22 layers of film.
This recovered image shows Alexander Stevens, the chief scientist and geologist of the Ross Sea Party, on the deck of the Aurora in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica.
A view of Tent Island in McMurdo Sound. There is mold damage evident around the edges of the image.
This damaged photo shows Big Razorback Island in McMurdo Sound.
Alexander Stevens again poses on board the deck of the Aurora. It was not until January 1917 that the Aurora returned to rescue the Ross Sea Party. By then three men had died, including Arnold Patrick Spencer-Smith, the team's photographer. To see more images from the recovered negatives, visit the