Sep 12, 2017 I Brett Tingley

Cryptic Note Left by Antarctic Explorer Baffles Historians

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton is today regarded as one of the principal explorers responsible for the so-called “Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.” During this time, close to twenty expeditions were launched to explore and survey the then-mysterious continent on the underside of our planet. These expeditions are called ‘heroic’ due to the near-superhuman levels of mental and physical fortitude required to survive for months on the Antarctic ice.

Requirements: chutzpah, cojones, and guts.

Shackleton led several groundbreaking treks in Antarctica, including two that broke records for the farthest southern latitude reached. For his efforts, Shackleton received numerous royal commendations and is widely regarded in as one of the world’s most notable explorers.

shackleton and endurance
Shackleton and the Endurance, the ship the explorer took on his attempt to make the first Trans-Atlantic Expedition in 1914. The ship became stuck in the ice and was slowly crushed before sinking three years later.

Shackleton died in 1921 while on an Antarctic expedition and was buried on the continent on South Georgia island. Yet, almost a century after his death, the explorer is still the source of wonder and mystery. While examining an trove of Shackleton’s correspondences and records, an archivist with the Perth-based Royal Scottish Geographical Society discovered a mysterious cryptic note written in the margins of Shackleton’s CV.

The note appears to be written in a form of shorthand.

Shackleton used the CV, dated 1903, to apply for posts while in between voyages. The CV contains a reference from his most noted rival, Captain Robert Falcon Scott, who once sent Shackleton home from an expedition for health reasons. Could the strange note be some form of taunt or jab between rival explorers? Could it be the location of some buried treasure or hidden relic on the icy continent?

Shackletons grave on South Georgia island not far from the Antarctic coast.

The Royal Scottish Geographical Society is seeking the public’s help in unraveling this mystery. Think you might know what it says? Email them at [email protected] and add your name to Shackleton’s legacy.

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician living in the ancient Appalachian mountains.

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