Union Glacier, Antarctica – December 19, 2014
The Honourable Alexandra Shackleton, granddaughter of Sir Ernest Shackleton, flew to the interior of the Antarctic continent for the first time with Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE) on December 13, 2014.
Alexandra’s visit celebrates the centenary of her grandfather’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914–17), also known as the Endurance Expedition, which was en route to Antarctica 100 years ago and would cross the Antarctic Circle on December 30, 1914. Her travel to the interior is also geographically significant because Shackleton’s expedition had the ultimate goal of crossing the continent from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea (coast to coast).
While at Union Glacier, Alexandra toured the ALE camp and viewed the amenities available to modern-day explorers. ALE was proud to host a member of the Shackleton family, especially one who has done much to preserve her grandfather’s history and to further exploration of the Antarctic continent. Alexandra is Life-President of the James Caird Society, founded to honor Sir Ernest Shackleton and provide information about his expeditions. Additionally, she has supported ongoing Shackleton research and contributed to a variety of books and films related to Shackleton’s expeditions. She continues to serve as a patron for many modern day explorers and has lent her support to several expeditions to the Antarctic.
During her visit to ALE’s office in Punta Arenas, Chile, we were able to ask Alexandra a few questions in anticipation of her Antarctic flight:
How do modern day expeditions compare to expeditions of 100 years ago?
In my grandfather’s day it was much more dangerous… the conditions were absolutely appalling. My grandfather said once to his little sister, “you cannot think what it is like to tread where no man’s trodden before”. We know an awful lot about our world today compared to 100 years ago. And it’s much more comfortable than it was 100 years ago; if they sweated it froze. Now there is this amazing gear and of course there are communications. People know where one is.
What do you think draws visitors to Antarctica today?
I think people come to the Antarctic for different reasons. Some come for the sheer beauty and isolation, the fact that it hasn’t changed much. Some come for wildlife, some come for history. But I think very few people fail to be moved by the sheer beauty.
What will the future of Antarctic travel look like?
I think the future of Antarctic travel looks extremely positive. Through books, films, expeditions, exhibitions, and of course things like Blue Planet, a lot of people know about that area. It won’t be everyone’s sort of holiday but it always will be a very outstanding experience. The more people know about it, the more we will fight to preserve it.
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About Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions – With more than 25 years of experience, Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE) is the premier provider of deep-field Antarctic experiences. ALE offers a wide range of Antarctic adventures & logistical support to suit every guest’s ultimate goal. From its blue-ice runway and base camp at Union Glacier, guests can venture to the summit of Mount Vinson, fly to the South Pole, journey to an emperor penguin colony, or attempt a ski expedition in the spirit of early explorers. ALE also offers a full range of logistical services to support National Antarctic Programs and scientific research. antarctic-logistics.com
ALE is a Member of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO.org) and fully subscribes to the principle of safe and environmentally responsible travel to the Antarctic.