Retracing Shackleton's footsteps across South Georgia Island

The aim of the Trust's expedition was to encourage young people to explore the physical world, and to educate and inspire others to explore.

The Antarctic Heritage Trust Inspiring Explorers Expedition 2015 provided an opportunity of a lifetime for three young people to participate in a fully sponsored ski-touring expedition, repeating Shackleton’s crossing of the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia from King Haakon Bay to Stromness.

The expedition was to mark the centenary of the original crossing. It retraced the footsteps of Ernest Shackleton, Frank Worsley and Tom Crean, who undertook the original crossing to seek help after their ship, Endurance, was crushed in sea ice.


The three explorers chosen were Tom MacTavish, Sinéad Hunt and James Blake. Each person identified with one or more of Britain, New Zealand or Ireland and is connected in their own way to the story, identities or nationalities of Shackleton, Worsley or Crean.

Tom McTavish headshot
Tom MacTavish
Sinead Hunt headshot
Sinéad Hunt
James Blake headshot
James Blake

There were some striking similarities between the two teams’ backgrounds. Tom, like Frank Worsley, is from a small, country fishing village in the South Island of New Zealand and has an affinity for the ocean. James is an accomplished adventurer and explorer already, as Shackleton was when he set out on the Endurance expedition, and is Anglo-Kiwi (Shackleton was Anglo-Irish). Sinéad, like Tom Crean before her, is proudly Irish and serves in the military.

They were joined by the Trust's Executive Director as Expedition Leader and two qualified guides from One Ocean Expeditions.


The expedition took place 16–30 October and was part of a commercial tour to South Georgia Island with the experienced Antarctic tour company One Ocean Expeditions aboard Akademik Sergey Vavilov.

The explorers flew to Port Stanley (in the Falkand Islands) and then travelled aboard the Vavilov to King Haakon Bay, South Georgia. From there they disembarked and crossed the island in a multi-day ski traverse through glaciated terrain to Stromness. They rejoined the ship before returning to Ushuaia, Argentina. During the crossing, the party of six were self-sufficient.

Expedition patron
Alexandra Shackleton headshot
The Hon. Alexandra Shackleton
expedition sponsors
one ocean expeditions logo
One Ocean Expeditions
nz alpine club logo
New Zealand Alpine Club
GOPRO circle crop
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