Tragic end to Shackleton Solo Expedition
We are devastated by the news that Henry Worsley died on the 24th January 2016 in hospital in Punta Arenas, Chile.
Henry undertook his solo expedition in the spirit of his idol Sir Ernest Shackleton and was delighted to have exceeded his goal of raising a £100,000 for the Endeavour Fund, a project founded to help the recovery of injured servicemen and women. You can find out more about Henry's goals and make a donation at Shackletonsolo.org.
He was fulfilling his dream of crossing the Antarctic continent, and after having walked 913 statute miles unsupported and unassisted, battling extreme weather conditions, he made the brave decision, in Shackleton’s words, to "shoot the bolt”, 30 miles short of his ultimate goal.
When Henry was picked up by Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE), he was suffering from exhaustion and dehydration. He was flown to a hospital in Punta Arenas where he was found to have bacterial peritonitis. This resulted in Henry undergoing surgery but in spite of all the efforts of ALE and medical staff, he succumbed.
Henry leaves behind his wife Joanna and children Max and Alicia. The family ask for privacy at this difficult time.
Joanna has given the following statement:
"It is with heartbroken sadness I let you know that my husband Henry Worsley has died following complete organ failure; despite all efforts of ALE and medical staff at the Clinica Magallanes in Punta Arenas, Chile.
Henry achieved his Shackleton Solo goals: of raising over £100,000 for the Endeavour Fund, to help his wounded colleagues, and so nearly completing the first unsupported crossing of the Antarctic landmass. A crossing made, under exceptionally difficult weather conditions, to mark the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition – his lifelong hero.
On behalf of myself and family I wish to thank the many hundreds of you who have shown unfailing support to Henry throughout his courageous final challenge and great generosity to the Endeavour Fund. Donations now total over £106,773."
The Duke of Cambridge, Patron of the Shackleton Solo Expedition, said:
"Harry and I are very sad to hear of the loss of Henry Worsley. He was a man who showed great courage and determination and we are incredibly proud to be associated with him.
"Even after retiring from the Army, Henry continued to show selfless commitment to his fellow servicemen and women, by undertaking this extraordinary Shackleton solo expedition on their behalf.
"We have lost a friend, but he will remain a source of inspiration to us all, especially those who will benefit from his support to the Endeavour Fund.
"We will now make sure that his family receive the support they need at this terribly difficult time."
Harry Holt, Chairman of the Endeavour Fund and a close personal friend of Henry’s having served with him for several years in the British Army said:
"We are devastated by the loss of Henry Worsley. The Endeavour Fund is very proud to have been associated with Henry's tremendous achievements but we mourn his sacrifice. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this dark hour.”
On 13th November 2015, Henry Worsley arrived at his start point of Berkner Island, Antarctica, to embark upon an ambitious goal 100 years after Sir Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated Endurance trip to complete the first ever solo unsupported and unassisted crossing of the Antarctic landmass.
Henry had undertaken this incredible effort and subsequent sacrifice on behalf of other veterans who had been injured during their service, by raising funds through donations to the Endeavour Fund.
The Endeavour Fund is managed by the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry and exists to support the ambitions of wounded, injured and sick Service personnel and veterans to use sport and adventurous challenge as part of their recovery and rehabilitation.
In his last statement sent from Antarctica, Henry articulated why he had set out across the ice and in doing so, demonstrated his own values of selfless commitment and courage:
'I set out on this journey to attempt the first solo unsupported crossing of the Antarctic landmass, a feat of endurance never before achieved.
"But more importantly, to raise support for The Endeavour Fund, to assist wounded soldiers in their rehabilitation. Having been a career soldier for 36 years and recently retired, it has been a way of giving back to those far less fortunate than me.
"The 71 days alone on the Antarctic with over 900 statute miles covered and a gradual grinding down of my physical endurance finally took its toll today, and it is with sadness that I report it is journey’s end – so close to my goal."
About Henry Worsley
Henry Worsley had just completed a 36 year career in the British Army, serving with the Royal Green Jackets and later the Rifles Regiment, retiring October 2015 but since childhood he had pursued a passionate interest in the lives of the Antarctic explorers of the Edwardian age – Shackleton, Scott and Amundsen.
Of the three, the life and expeditions of Sir Ernest Shackleton had been of particular interest, inspiring Henry’s first Antarctic adventure. In 2008/09, Henry led an expedition to commemorate the centenary of Shackleton’s 1907/09 ‘Nimrod’ journey, which pioneered a route through the Transantarctic Mountains via the Beardmore Glacier to a point just 97 miles short of the South Pole. The centenary journey – comprised of descendants of the original party – retraced the original route, arriving at Shackleton’s Furthest South exactly 100 years to the day, before completing the journey to the Pole.
To commemorate the centenary of Captain Scott’s and Roald Amundsen’s expeditions, Henry returned to Antarctica 2011/12, leading a team of six soldiers in a race along the original 1912 routes to be first to the South Pole. He led the Amundsen route from the Bay of Whales, up the Axel Heiberg Glacier to the South Pole, a 900 mile unsupported journey. In so doing, he became the only person to have completed the two classic routes of Shackleton, Scott and Amundsen to the South Pole.