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The Solo Antarctic Expedition That Ended In Death And A Series Of Tragic Selfies

Updated November 5, 2018 906.6k views12 items

Following in the footsteps of one of his biggest heroes, Antarctic explorer Henry Worsley dreamed of crossing the continent completely on his own, but the voyage ended in tragedy. Inspired by the incredibly tough, competitive, and stubborn explorers of the early-1900s, the Worsley Antarctic expedition of 2015 was an attempt to re-create a voyage Ernest Shackleton attempted but never completed 100 years earlier. Unfortunately, Worsley found similar results and met an even grimmer end.

Worsley was familiar with Antarctica, having already recreated several expeditions made by his heroes. His route spanned from the South Pole to the continent's opposite shore. While Henry Worsley was an experienced explorer, Antarctica's extreme temperatures, dangerous winds, and unsettling atmosphere proved unconquerable. Worsley's attempt to fulfill a dangerous dream ended in tragedy, similar to voyagers like Robert Scott or Christopher McCandless. Henry Worsley's funeral was a sad day for the exploration community, but the selfies and audio diary he left behind tell an amazing tale.

  • Worsley Was Forced To Stop His Adventure Just 30 Miles Short Of His Goal Due To Poor Health And Exhaustion


    Henry Worsley remarkably made it more than 900 miles across Antarctica completely on his own, only changing his underwear once. Unfortunately, after more than 65 days traveling in the world's most inhospitable land, he was forced to stop 30 miles from his goal. Worsley's pace had slowed in the last days of his trip as he fought exhaustion and a growing infection he didn't even know he had. In contrast to the 13 hour days he managed at the start of his trip, Worsley was only covering about four miles every five hours.

    A storm moved in, which caused whiteout conditions. The winds were so high that they killed a colony of penguins and trapped Worsley in his tent for two days. The rescue team monitoring his progress got ready to move in, but refused to take any action until Worsley gave the signal. Finally, he contacted his support team knowing he was too exhausted to travel any further, and they picked him up.

  • Worsley's Journey Was Made In The Name Of The Endeavour Fund, A Charity For Injured Veterans


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    Henry Worsley was a veteran of the British Army and had great respect for his fellow soldiers. He was also friends with Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, who helped fund Worsley's second trip to Antarctica. In Worsley's final visit to the icy continent, he intended to raise money for The Endeavour Fund, run by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as well as Prince Harry. Worsley chose to support the foundation because of his friendly relationship with William, but also because the foundation supports adventures for injured veterans, a cause close to his heart. Although he was unable to complete his journey, Worsley raised more than $150,000, which more than doubled as donations poured in after the news of his death.

  • The Early Explorers Of Antarctica Inspired Worsley


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    Since no ship had ever voyaged close enough, explorers didn't even discover Antarctica until around 1820. The early explorers Henry Worsley held in such high regard began traversing the continent in the early 1900s. Robert Falcon Scott made the first attempt to reach the South Pole in 1901 with explorer Ernest Shackleton, but the team never completed their trek. Shackleton returned in 1907, but again, he was forced to stop 97 miles short of his goal. Scott returned several years later, but he discovered Roald Amundsen beat him to the South Pole by one month, and Scott died before he made it back to safety. Shackleton returned in a 1915 attempt to walk across the continent, which is the adventure Worsley was attempting to replicate when he died.

  • The Ill-Fated Journey Was Not Worsley's First Trip To Antarctica


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    Henry Worsley made his first trip to Antarctica in 2008, leading a team whose goal was to retrace Ernest Shackleton's second attempt to reach the South Pole during his Nimrod expedition of 1907. Shackleton and his party made it 97 miles from their destination when lack of food and bad weather forced them to give up and turn around. Worsley's team followed Shackleton's path through the Transantarctic Mountains across the Beardmore Glacier, and completed what Shackleton could not by reaching the South Pole.

    In 2011, Worsley returned to Antarctica with a six-member team to follow a route from the Bay of Whales across the Ross Ice Shelf. They were retracing the path taken by Roald Amundsen 100 years earlier, when he became the first person to reach the South Pole.