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THE GREAT-GRANDSON OF legendary British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, Patrick Bergel, has made history by becoming the first person to drive a car across the Antarctic.
The 30-day route driven in a Hyundai Santa Fe crossed the iced-up continent from Union Camp to McMurdo and back again, completing the journey that Shackleton attempted more than a century ago.
The expedition, facilitated by Hyundai Motor, saw Bergel and his small team take on almost 5800km of icy terrain in bitter conditions.
SHACKLETON TRIED IT IN 1914
They not only had to cover extreme distances in temperatures as low as minus 28C but also plot new routes on ice that had never been travelled by a wheeled vehicle.
The expedition was inspired by Shackleton’s heroic Trans-Antarctic journey of 1914-17 when, having been beaten to the South Pole by Roald Amundsen, he tried to become the first to cross the ice-at-the-bottom-of-the-world.
Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance sank after it was crushed by ocean pack ice but the heroic explorer and five of his men sailed 1280km in a small sailboat through the open and stormy ocean to South Georgia, from where a successful rescue was launched.
It was the spirit of endurance shown by Shackleton and his crew that inspired Hyundai to visit the Antarctic and enable one of Shackleton’s descendants to complete what had been started more than a century earlier.
The journey was carefully plotted on GPS and dangerous locations were reviewed in detailed meetings with experts at Union Glacier before departure but there were still plenty of pitfalls along the way.