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Shackleton's Antarctic journey recreated

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6 days ago

The great grandson of British explorer Ernest Shackleton has become the first man to drive across the Antrarctic - 100 years after his great grandfather failed to walk across the icy continent.

Patrick Bergel encountered temperatures of minus 28C during his 30-day trip across the 5800km stretch in a five-door 4WD fitted with extra large wheels and snow track grips.

The 46-year-old's modified 2.2 litre diesel was engraved with the names of the crew members who accompanied Shackleton on his failed bid.

"I like to think, he'd be proud and pleased that a member of his family had finally pulled off something that he'd tried to do," Bergel told Reuters in London.

"But ... what we'd done was maybe a thousandth as hard as it had been back in 1916-17."

Shackleton's bid to become the first man to cross the continent had ended when his boat sank in ice, with the explorer and his crew sailing hundreds of miles to safety on lifeboats.

Bergel said they had used GPS and meetings with Antarctic experts in a bid to avoid floating ice caps and a similar fate on his December trip, which started at Union Glacier and went past the South Pole, Leverett Glacier and the Trans-Antarctic Mountains.

"I'm not a polar explorer by trade, it's not my day job by any means, so this was something quite new for me," Bergel said.

"There were a few little bumps on the way but fortunately no deaths."

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