British climber Henry Worsley abandons Antarctic quest

Worsley (right) with Prince William, a supporter of the Shackleton Solo quest. Photo: Courtesy of Shackleton Solo

Henry Worsley, the British explorer who was attempting to become the first person to ever cross the Antarctic alone and unassisted, died Sunday just 30 miles from finishing his 1,000-mile journey. He was 55 years old.

Worsley was trying to finish the famously failed 1915 Antarctic crossing of Sir Ernest Shackleton. Worsley, who served as a lieutenant colonel in the British Army, was a distant relative to the captain of Shackleton’s ship.

Worsley was using the crossing as a way to raise funds for the Endeavour Fund in Britain, a project started to help wounded servicemen and servicewomen in their recovery and rehabilitation.

Worsley’s death was announced on Shackleton Solo, the website he kept up to date with details of his quest. In a diary entry on Saturday for Day 71 of his journey, Worsley explained his decision to give up on his attempt and to call for rescue.

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“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,” Worsley said. “It is with sadness that I report it is journey's end — so close to my goal.”

He was airlifted to Puenta Arenas, a city in the Patagonia region of Chile, closest to the Antarctic. His wife, Joanna, said he later died “following complete organ failure.”

A statement from the Endeavour Fund said that Mr. Worsley and Joanna had two children, Max and Alicia.

The reasoning behind Worsley’s Antarctic crossing, to raise money for the Endeavour Fund, gained him many followers, including British Princes William and Harry. Upon hearing of Worsley’s passing, Prince William released a heartfelt message detailing the brothers’ sadness at the loss of a friend.

“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,” said Prince William.

“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.”

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