by Jo Adetunji
A century after Sir Ernest Shackleton conceded "it was better to be a living donkey than a dead lion" and abandoned hopes of becoming the first explorer to reach the south pole, three descendants of the explorer and his team successfully completed his mission yesterday.
Nearly three months after setting off on the 900-mile journey, Henry Worsley, a descendant of Shackleton's skipper, Frank Wild; Henry Adams, great grandson of Shackleton's number two Jameson Boyd-Adams; and Will Gow, great nephew of Shackleton's wife Emily, arrived at the south pole after travelling up to 10 hours a day on foot in temperatures as low as -52C. While Shackleton's Nimrod adventure was blighted by blizzards and a lack of rations, forcing him to accept the accolade of being the first person to reach within a hundred miles of the pole in 1909, yesterday's team carried more modern equipment.
Speaking via satellite phone, Worsley, an army officer and leader of the expedition, said: "We're absolutely ecstatic. The past 65 days have been physically gruelling and mentally exhausting, but this moment makes it all very, very worthwhile.
"To stand here, with Shackleton's own compass, which never made it to this point all those years ago, is a humbling experience." The team also crossed the polar plateau along a route only twice completed, by Captain Scott in 1912 and Robert Swan in 1986.
Three other members of the expedition, Tim Fright, Wild's great, great nephew; David Cornell, another great grandson of Boyd-Adams; and Andrew Ledger, who won a place on the trip through an open competition, flew out to complete the journey from where Shackleton ended his expedition, 97 miles from the pole, and are not expected to reach the destination until this evening.