Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton was born in Kilkea House, County Kildare, Ireland on February 15, 1874. In 1890, he joined the British Merchant Navy. In 1901, he signed up under Robert Falcon Scott's National Antarctic Expedition, which was unsuccessful in reaching the South Pole, but whetted Shackleton's appetite for adventure.

In 1908, in an effort to be the first to reach the South Pole, he led his own expedition on the Nimrod. The Nimrod came within 100 miles of the Pole - the furthest south to date - but had to turn back, due to supply shortages and worsening health of the crew. Roald Amundsen's successful journey to the South Pole in 1911 made that goal unachieveable, so Shackleton set out on a new goal: to be the first to cross the continent.

So begins Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure. On November 5, 1914, the Endurance arrives at Grytviken on South Georgia Island, crewed by 28 men who had been selected from the 5,000 who had responded to the advertisement:

Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success. —Ernest Shackleton.

And so began what was one of the most spectacular adventuring journeys in the history of mankind. Nearly two years later, the entire crew (sans sled dogs) safely returns, never having set foot on Antarctica. The Endurance had been trapped in ice one month into the journey, and was abandoned 10 months later when crushed and sunk. Camping on an iceflow, and then rowing in lifeboats, most of the crew was left on Elephant Island while 6 men sailed the James Caird (a recommisioned lifeboat) back to South Georgia Island - only to land on the wrong coast, necessitating a 30 mile, 36-hour climb across an uncharted glacial mountain to civilization.

In 1921, Shackleton led the ship Quest to Antarctica, but suffered a heart attack and died on January 5, 1922. He is buried at Grytviken.