Fortitudine vincimus – “By endurance we conquer.”
Endurance is the incredible true story of Ernest Shackleton and his crew’s amazing escape from disaster in Antartica — so incredible in some places it seems improbable that it all really occurred. However, the journals of all the men and testimonies afterward seem to corroborate one another fully. Every adventure racer, every endurance paddler, every navigator, etc. should read this story immediately. 🙂 It really is that good and that fascinating. That men could survive in such conditions over such a long period of time, that they could travel the distances they traveled in the most unlikely of methods, and live to tell about it, is beyond comprehension. And the book is so well written, it really grips you from the start and never lets you go.
For the navigators, imagine this… When 6 of the men had to leave the rest of the crew, sailing from Elephant Island through perhaps the most treacherous ocean in the world, in a small boat not meant for that kind of thing:
They would travel perhaps a thousand miles across the stormiest ocean on the globe. The ultimate goal was an island no more than 25 miles wide at its widest point. To guide an open boat that distance, under conditions that were frightening even to contemplate, and then to strike a pinpoint on the chart was a task that would sorely tax even Worsley’s skill as a navigator.
For the orienteering population out there, imagine this… When they had to climb up and over South Georgia Island, an island with 10,000 foot peaks, glaciers, crevices, freezing cold weather, fog, etc….
“I do not know how they did it, except that they had to-three men of the heroic age of Antarctic exploration with 50 feet of rope between them-and a carpenter’s adze.”
But it was inescapable. He was the Boss. There was always a barrier, an aloofness, which kept him apart. It was not a calculated thing; he was simply emotionally incapable of forgetting-even for an instant-his position and the responsibility it entailed. The others might rest, or find escape by the device of living for the moment. But for Shackleton there was little rest and no escape. The responsibility was entirely his, and a man could not be in his presence without feeling this.
In some ways they had come to know themselves better. In this lonely world of ice and emptiness, they had achieved at least a limited kind of contentment. They had been tested and found not wanting.