100 years ago today Ernest Shackleton was on the Endurance, beset in ice, slowly drifting to the north (opposite of where he wanted to go). Little did he know what an adventure lay ahead of him!
As a part of our Shackleton Centenary celebrations we caught up with Laurie and Richard Goldsmith and asked them 10 questions about their Shackleton Crossing of South Georgia Island. In November 2015 we will be returning to South Georgia Island for another Shackleton Crossing. A handful of spaces remain on this incredible expedition. Interested in joining us? Contact Annie.
Honoring an icon at Shackleton's grave. Grytviken, South Georgia Island.
How would you describe the expedition?
Laurie: It was excellent and unique. Not many people get a chance to travel to South Georgia Island. And here we were going to South Georgia AND crossing the island in Shackleton’s footsteps. The guides were excellent and upbeat. It was an amazing expedition. There was so much to learn about, see, and experience!
Richard: It was an all-encompassing adventure. There was the flora, the fauna, the majestic mountains and glaciers and they were all woven into the historical significance of Shackleton’s expedition. It was cool.
Describe your favorite day:
Laurie: My favorite day was the first day of skiing. After 6 days on the ship I was ready to start the skiing. It was a bright sunny day with blue sky and white snow all around. We were ascending uphill for many hours. Every time I looked back I could see the ship in Haakon Bay. The changing perspective was interesting.
Richard: My favorite day was when we arrived at the overlook above Stromneess. Not only was it amazing to look down and see the bay and buildings, but the history significance of being in Shackleotn’s footsteps when he saw the buildings and heard the bell ring. It was emotional for me.
What was the most challenging part of the expedition?
Laurie: Being on skis, wearing a backpack, pulling a sled, and being roped up. It was a lot to think about!
Richard: Traveling in rope teams, and being that much of a team can be challenging. Finding the right pace makes all the difference. But it’s a short crossing, and by the time you figure things out you are at the end! I also had some trouble with my boots. If I did this again I might not wear such heavy mountaineering boots.
You've spent time on other expeditions. How does this one compare?
Laurie: This expedition had so much more variety. We had a great time on the ship, incredible wildlife viewing, fascinating lectures given by the naturalists and then the skiing and mountaineering. Just an incredible amount of variety.
Richard: I agree with Laurie. This expedition was so varied. Another way this expedition was unique is that we were trying to follow a historical route. That required a different and enjoyable kind of focus that I haven’t experienced on other expeditions. It was an added and interesting challenge.
What piece of gear were you so glad to have?
Laurie: My super waterproof jacket and pants that have good venting. The snow was wet, but it was warm, so I need that dual functionality.
Richard: Good sunglasses, mine were wrap around sunglasses. A lighter boot might have been better. I had a heavy mountaineering boot.
Tell us a little about life on the ship:
Laurie: Ooh it was fun, it was excellent. I had never done a cruise before and now I’m afraid that if I do another it won’t live up to my expectations. The ship was so comfortable, the chef was excellent. The crew was great, very upbeat and enthusiastic. We had three talks a day from the expedition staff. I was sure I wouldn’t go to all the talks but I did. There was one talk on krill and I thought how interesting can Krill really be? But it was fascinating!
Richard: We had some rough days at the beginning and most people had some seasickness. Most of us got over it after the first few days but there were a few people who struggled with it. But the onboard doc was great if you needed anything. The other people on board who were not doing the crossing were a phenomenal group. There were many serious photographers, and they knew their stuff. They were very interesting to talk with.
Laurie: For me the ship time was just as good as the actual Shackleton Crossing. Different of course, but just as good. The ski crossing without the additional ship days of touring the island would have been a less complete experience. Six days on a ship may sound like a long time but it passes very quickly!
Any advice for people about the ship time?
Richard: Welcome it. Don’t be intimidated by the boat ride. It was a big part of the trip, and a good part of the trip. Learning about South Georgia from the naturalists was very interesting.
Laurie: We had a lot of freedom on board but I was never bored. There was always a meal, or a talk to go to, or something else going on. There was a TV in the room but I never turned it on
What would you tell someone who is thinking of joining this expedition?
Laurie: Do it, no question. Have the proper gear and be fit and ready for the crossing,
Richard: Take the opportunity. This is one of those once in a life time experiences that was extremely rewarding.
Any additional thoughts?
At the recommendation of PolarExploers we did a 4 day introduction to glacial travel and crevasse rescue. It was hugely helpful and it made me feel completely ready for the expedition. (PolarExplorers is offering a Shackleton Crossing Shakedown from June 5-8 out of Seattle, WA contact us to learn more!)
Richard and Laurie on the deck of the Plancius.