As commander of a transantarctic expedition, he set out in 1914, planning to enter the Weddell Sea and cross on foot over the south polar region to the Ross Sea, a distance of c.2,000 mi (3,200 km). When his ship Endurance was crushed in the ice in Oct., 1915, he led his party some 180 mi (290 km) to safety at Elephant Island; from there Shackleton with five companions in a lifeboat made a voyage of c.800 mi (1,290 km) through wild seas, then crossed rugged, glaciated South Georgia Island to reach (May, 1916) a whaling station on its north coast. Shackleton rescued his Elephant Island party and later returned to the Weddell Sea to pick up others left there earlier in the expedition. His South (1919) is an account of the whole expedition. In 1921 Shackleton sailed on the Quest to study Enderby Land but died on ship and was buried on South Georgia Island.
See biography by R. Huntford (1985); C. Alexander, The Endurance (1998).