Every action when looked at from different perspectives could mean different things! Same can be said for this historical adventure in which a 37 year old Navy Captain and his crew of 116 became the first people ever to complete the first successful submerged voyage around the North Pole.

Let’s start at the beginning! It was the period of Polar Exploration. Many countries and governments had sent their expert teams to the far off lands both North and South of the equator. While there were political agendas, scientific aspirations, and exploration possibilities, there were also the dreams of experiencing the ultimate adventure – being there where no man has set foot before!

On 4th October, 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik – the first artificial Earth Satellite and as expected it brought in new military, scientific and political developments and aspirations. One part of those developments was the Operation Sunshine – a submarine transit of the North Pole, ordered by President Eisenhower in 1958.

Nautilus in the open waters Image credits: Wikipedia.org
Nautilus in the open waters
Image credits: Wikipedia.org

The mission started on 25th April, 1958, when USS Nautilus (SSN – 571), world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine, commanded by Commander William R. Anderson headed towards the West Coast starting from New London, Connecticut. After stopping at San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle it left Seattle port on 9th June, 1958. An attempt to enter the open waters was made on 19th June, 1958 but it had to be pulled back due to drift ice in the shallow waters. Special Gyrocompass built by Sperry Rand was installed just before the journey began.

A legendary polar explorer, and one of the chief figures of the time period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic ExplorationSir Ernest Shackleton led three British Expeditions to the Antarctic. So strong was his love for the region that after his death in 1920, his wife asked that he be buried in South Georgia, accompanied by the stormy seas.

Sir Ernest Shackleton
Sir Ernest Shackleton
Image Credits: en.wikipedia.org

Here is a look at this great man’s life:

1. Explorer Extraordinaire

Ernest Shackleton is the ultimate personification of a time at the beginning of the 20th century that is now regarded as the “Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration”. An Irishman by birth, Shackleton put behind him the disappointment of his first foray into the frozen wastes of Antarctica – poor health led him to return home from the 1901-04 Discovery Expedition (also known as the National Antarctic Expedition) – to become one of history’s most storied polar explorers. His epic, though ultimately futile, attempt at crossing the continent of Antarctica would become a feat of “Endurance” for the ages.

2. Pull of the Ocean

It was through books that Shackleton got his taste for adventure. But such was his restiveness as a teen that his school (Dulwich College London) let the boy leave to seek a life out at sea. With the (reluctant) encouragement of his doctor-father, Shackleton became an apprentice aboard the Hoghton Tower, a sailing boat, and spent the next four years living the life of a seaman, learning the tools of the seafaring trade. Shackleton travelled around the world, sailing with men from all walks of life. These experiences would prove invaluable as he turned his gaze towards Antarctica.

The Island of South Georgia in the Southern Ocean
The Island of South Georgia in the Southern Ocean

3. “The Great Southern Journey”

Shackleton’s second journey to the South Pole was as part of the four-member Nimrod Expedition, which he led. During this trip, Shackleton and his fellow explorers reached as far south as anyone had ever done at that point in time – a latitude of 88° 23’ S, the equivalent of 97 geographical miles (that’s 112 statute miles, or 180km) from the South Pole. The party also reached the summit of Mount Erebus (3794 m/12,448ft), the first men to do so. Shackleton proved to be a fine, as well as an empathetic, leader of men. For his Nimrod exploits, he was knighted by King Edward VII.

Located in the Zanskar Valley, the Chadar Frozen River trek offers a unique trekking experience and makes the wish list of every trekking enthusiast. This trek is definitely not for a novice, and even for seasoned trekkers, who have experience of many Himalayan treks; this trek is nothing like they have seen before. The hardly habitable environment of the ‘Chadar’ has all the makings of an extremely challenging trek – one which dares a trekker to test his/her attitude and tolerance while providing some of the best visuals imaginable. On Chadar trek, the only constant is the freezing cold, with temperatures dropping to 30 degrees below zero at times. Dressing sensibly is of vital importance. It is difficult to accurately predict the environments at the Zanskar frozen river trek; but here is a general outline of what to expect on this winter trek:

Chadar Frozen River Trek
Chadar Frozen River Trek

1. Best time to go –
Chadar literally means sheet and in this case a sheet of Frozen River. January to February is the time when the upper layer of the river gets hard and trekkers can walk gently on it.