Over the next few months they encountered bitter cold winds and temperatures of 60 below. Shifting ice forced the men to relocate their camp multiple times, and with little to no food at the end of their journey they were forced to eat their sled dogs. In the crew's current condition many were discouraged except for one crew member: the brave and mighty captain, Ernest Shackleton. The captain's new mission was to assure the safety of every individual who had accompanied him.
Shackleton delivered an inspirational speech to the crew during this crisis. He and his weary crew treked 300 miles to Snow Hill where a supply of food and fuel were stored. Shackleton led his men across the endless mass of ice. They pulled boats on skis, called sledges, loaded with thousands of pounds of supplies they collected from the ship. These sledges were pulled by the men since all the dogs had been killed for food. The ice repeatedly opened and closed, making traveling challenging. They worked their way across open leads, ice ledges, and compromised landscapes. In some places the crew had to unload and reload, take apart and put back together the sledges in order to continue their journey to Snow Hill.
One particular morning before dawn , the crew was roused by the sound of thundering cracks and realized that their raft of ice, where they had made camp, had snapped in two. Soon realizing they had been separated from their leader, Shackleton, the crew boarded wooden boats and rowed for dear life to rescue their captain. Ernest ordered his crew to continue rowing to the nearest land mass; after five days the crew finally reached their destination, Elephant Island.
After a little more than a week on Elephant Island, Shackleton decided to use his most reliable boat and equip it with the necessary supplies to travel from Elephant Island to South Georgia Island -- an 800-mile sail. There he would seek help from a whaling station, and with their assistance would attempt to retrieve his crew. He took his five most reliable crew members to South Georgia.
After four weeks of sailing, he reached South Georgia Island, but a storm forced them to the opposite side of the island from the whaling station. Shackleton and two of his crew members hiked 32 miles over mountains and glaciers to reach the whaling station. The men there offered relief to the weary crew, giving them the Yelcho, a naval tugboat which would make the journey back to Elephant Island. This was the crew's saving grace, which brought every original member of the expedition back to safety.
Although Shackleton didn’t succeed in reaching the South Pole, he made sure that every crew member survived. He will not be remembered for his expedition's failure to reach the South Pole, but for his example of heroism and leadership.