By Linda Davis
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Extra resources for Sir Ernest Shackleton (Great Explorers)
Meanwhile, Dr. Wilson noticed that Shackleton’s gums were swollen—the first sign of scurvy. Plus, he still suffered from a nagging cough, although he tried to hide it from the others. He did not want the party to have to turn back because of him. Wilson, who also had swollen gums, became anxious about getting back. Still a mysterious disease, scurvy had one certainty—if left untreated, it was a killer. Wilson believed this symptom would be the one argument that could force Scott to turn around before it was too late.
Shackleton should have followed Nansen’s recommendations exactly. But on two crucial points, he veered away from Nansen’s advice. Shackleton’s poor decisions cost him dearly. Shackleton disagreed with Nansen in the use of dogs and skis. No doubt, his hesitation to use them stemmed from his disastrous experience with them on the Discovery Expedition. Instead, he decided to use horses. While horses were used on other polar explorations, they suffered from numerous problems. The pressure from their hooves broke holes in the ice, hard-crusted snow, and most dangerously—ice bridges over glacier crevasses.
On this journey, Shackleton acquired a mistrust of dogs and dog driving that would have profound consequences on his future explorations. At the seventy-ninth parallel (the circle of latitude 79 degrees south of the equator), half of Barne’s supporting party turned back. The remaining group pushed on until November 15, when the rest of Barne’s party gave up as well. Scott, Shackleton, and Wilson pressed farther. On November 25, 1902, they crossed the eightieth parallel, beyond which all maps were blank.