Cape 'Bloody' Wild, Elephant Island
16" x 24", Oil on board, 1995
After his ship Endurance had been crushed in the ice of the Weddell Sea, Sir Ernest Shackleton and the men of his Imperial TransAntarctic Expedition 1914-17 spent the next six month adrift on the pack ice before being forced to take to the ships boats. Their first landfall was at the extreme eastern end of Elephant Island at Cape Valentine. It was a very exposed spot with the likelyhood of being flooded by an exceptional tide. Shackleton therefore sent Frank Wild in search of a more secure site. In finding a short spit of shingle and rock joining the coast to a rocky islet some seven miles to the west on the northern shore, Wild had located the only suitable camp site nearby. It was also a penguin rookery, a sure sign of a relatively safe location. The party moved there immediately. It was on this desolate and lonely spec of land between steep icy grey cliffs and a threatening glacier that they survived, living beneath the confined shelter of their up-turned boats for 128 days before Shackleton returned to rescue them at his fourth attempt.
This promontory was named at the time "Cape Wild". As the men endured their enforced winter camp on this bleak spot, they found a more suitable name for the place, Cape "Bloody Wild". In more tranquil weather, a fiery sunset casts it's glow over Point Wild and the general location of their campsite which is now marked by a cairn. The upturned boats were sheltered between rocks on the rising ground at the foot of the small rocky islet in the middle distance which Shackleton called "Penguin Hill". The glacier behind has retreated since 1916 when on one occasion waves from a calving ice berg all but swamped their precariously situated camp.
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