Remembering Modern-Day Antarctic Explorer Henry Worsley
The explorer, attempting a solo trek across Antarctica, passed away on Sunday.
Growing up, we learn of famous explorers like Ferdinand Magellan, Leif Eriksson, Christopher Columbus, and Jaun Ponce de Leon. Their expeditions read like fantasies and their determination leave many inspired.
In 2016, however, a good exploration story can be hard to come by. Henry Worsley’s journeys to Antarctica filled that void. The British Army veteran had a passionate interest in Antarctic exploration and set out for the continent three times. Each adventure was deeply influenced by the three Edwardian Antarctic explorers the adventurer idolized: Sir Ernest Shackleton, Captain Scott, and Ronald Amundsen.
The first, an expedition to commemorate Shackleton’s 1907 ‘Nimrod’ journey, included descendants of the original party who trekked the same route exactly 100 years prior. Similarly, Worsley returned to the continent in 2011 with a team of soldiers to commemorate the centenary of Scott and Amundsen’s expeditions. After completion, Worsley became the only person to have completed both routes to the South Pole.
In 2015, Worsley decided to take his explorations one step further and attempt Shackleton’s failed Endurance expedition solo. This would require him to cross from one coast to the other unassisted, covering 1,000 miles of treacherous Antarctic terrain. The trip was not only motivated by Worsley’s passion of exploration, but also by his colleagues in the service. He set a goal to raise £100,00 for the Endeavour Fund, which grants money to wounded soldiers, and as he documented each day of his journey on an online diary, more money would filter in. Every day brought it’s unique challenges, and after 71 days, Worsley made the decision to end his run. In his final diary entry, he expressed his disappointment. “The 71 days alone on 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.”
The 55-year-old was airlifted to a medical facility in Punta Arenas, Chile. After undergoing surgery for bacterial peritonitis, Worsley passed away leaving behind his wife and two children.
Praise for the explorer and condolences to the family have been expressed around the world, including Prince Harry and the Duke of Cambridge–both of which are patrons of the Endeavour Fund. The amount raised for the fund has totaled £205,429 at the time of publishing.