Expeditions to Antarctica and Annapurna

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When taking a quick look at the two expeditions, one led by Ernest Shackleton to Antarctica and the other led by Arlene Blum to climb Annapurna, a quick summation can be made that Blum succeeded in her expedition and Shackleton failed. But this is a shallow view, not considering the nuances and actual experiences of the trips. Ernest Shackleton set out with his crew in 1915 to be the first expedition to cross Antarctica, but in fact, he never set foot on the continent. While failing at his initial goal, he was a highly successful leader and kept his 28 men safe for close to two years, while they were trapped on the ice floe and then, after the ice gave way, when they were paddling hundreds of miles across open seas in small, wooden lifeboats. He then completed the treacherous journey across South Georgia Island to reach a town and resources necessary to rescue his other men. All of his men were rescued alive and safe and all were able to return home to their families. In comparison, Arlene Blum set out from the United States in 1978 with 9 of her teammates as the American Women's Himalayan Expedition – the first all-woman group to attempt to climb Annapurna. Though their expedition was too often hazardous, it didn’t have the same level of urgency, because at any point during their climb, the group was at liberty to descend. Blum struggled with her role as the leader of this group of highly independent women. She too often hesitated and showed her lack of confidence, which in turn led to many problems within the group and with the hired Sherpas. On October 15th, 1978, two members of the expedition, along with two Sherpas, reached the summit of Annapurna, fulfilling the goal of the group. However, two days later, on Octobe...

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...ew to the path of being trapped by the ice, he excelled at his decision making. He didn’t believe that one should look back at past mistakes and waste time on regrets, indeed, “Shackleton never wasted time or energy lamenting things that had passed or that he couldn’t change (Morell, pp. 145).” As Shackleton himself said, “A man must shape himself to a new mark directly the old one goes to ground (Morell, pp. 145).” This ability to shift quickly and react to new circumstances served him and his crew members well and allowed all of them to save themselves from their icy trap. As Dennis Perkins says in his book, Leading at the Edge, in reference to the last leg of Shackleton’s expedition, “Their heroic journey across South Georgia Island had saved their shipmates. It remains a tribute to unremitting effort—and to the tenacious creativity at The Edge (pp. 148).”

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