Page last updated at 13:11 GMT, Sunday, 18 January 2009

Explorers reach South Pole target

From left: Henry Worsley, Will Gow and Henry Adams
The explorers took 66 days to walk 900 miles across Antarctica

Three men with links to Sir Ernest Shackleton have reached the South Pole.

Lt Col Henry Worsley, from Hereford, Will Gow, from Kent, and Henry Adams, from Suffolk, arrived on Sunday.

The team members, descendents of Shackleton's team or his family, took 66 days to complete the explorer's route, 100 years after he abandoned it.

Speaking from Antarctica, Mr Gow said: "It's been a very long journey, 66 days over 900 miles of pulling our sledges... we're absolutely ecstatic."

Shackleton set out on his Nimrod expedition in October 1908, hoping to become the first person to reach the South Pole.

But icy blizzards and dwindling rations forced him to turn back 97 miles from his goal on 9 January 1909.

To stand here, with Shackleton's own compass, which never made it to this point all those years ago, is a humbling experience
Henry Worsley, expedition leader
The trio celebrated Christmas Day as their forebears did 100 years before, with cigars and a spoonful of creme de menthe

Mr Gow, 35, a City worker, from Ashford, is related to Shackleton by marriage and is a descendant of his brother-in-law, Herbert Dorman.

Lt Col Worsley, 47, is the expedition leader and a descendant of Shackleton's skipper Frank Worsley.

Mr Adams, 34, a shipping lawyer from Snape, near Woodbridge, is a great-grandson of Jameson Boyd-Adams, Shackleton's number two on the unsuccessful expedition.

During their Matrix Shackleton Centenary Expedition, they hauled 300lb (136kg) sledges for up to 10 hours a day in temperatures that dropped as low as -52C.

From left Will Gow, Henry Worsley and Henry Adams
Temperatures on the trek dropped low as -52C

Speaking just two hours after arriving at the South Pole, where the temperature was -33C, Mr Gow told BBC Radio Kent that although exhausted, the team were in very good health and "on a great high".

"It's been pretty tough - but we're in remarkably good shape. We've all got on brilliantly - the morale has been really high throughout the expedition, which has been fantastic," he said.

Mr Gow added that they had celebrated with a couple of glasses of whisky and Kentish ale, and a huge meal of scrambled eggs and salmon.

Mr Worsley said: "The past 65 days have been physically gruelling and mentally exhausting, but this moment makes it all very, very worthwhile. Ever since I was a child, completing this journey has been my lifetime ambition.

From left: Henry Adams, Henry Worsley and Will Gow
The team celebrated Christmas Day with cigars and creme de menthe

"To stand here, with Shackleton's own compass, which never made it to this point all those years ago, is a humbling experience."

The trio were greeted at Shackleton's "furthest south" - 97 miles from the Pole - by Andrew Ledger, 23, from Derbyshire, Tim Fright, 24, from West Sussex and David Cornell, 38, from Hampshire.

Mr Cornell is another great-grandson of Jameson Boyd-Adams, while Mr Fright is the great-great-nephew of Frank Wild, the only explorer to accompany Shackleton on all his missions.

Mr Ledger beat 3,000 applicants in a nationwide competition to undertake the last 97 miles.

The group is also making its own way to the South Pole and is expected to arrive in the next few days

The expedition was being used to launch a 10m Shackleton Foundation, which will fund projects that capture the "explorer's spirit" and hunger for "calculated risk".

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