Monday, January 25, 2016

Antarctica 2015: British Explorer Henry Worsley Dies Following Evacuation From the Antarctic

There is very sad news to report from Punta Arenas, Chile today. British polar explorer Henry Worsley has passed away from exhaustion and other ailments as a result of his attempt to complete a solo and unsupported crossing of Antarctica. He was 55 years old. 

Worsley set out on his journey back in early November with the goal of becoming to the first to traverse the frozen continent alone and without assistance. He was out on the ice for more than 71 days, and had covered over 900 miles (1448 km) completely on his own. He was just 30 miles (48 km) shy of reaching his goal when he called for evacuation last Friday, January 22. At that point he was exhausted beyond measure, and couldn't find the strength to push on any longer. A flight was dispatched to retrieve him, and he was flown back to the Union Glacier camp before continuing on to Punta Arenas.

Once he arrived back in Chile, Worsley was taken to a hospital where he was diagnosed with peritonitis, which is an inflammation of the peritoneum, a thin later of tissue that lines the inside of the abdomen. The condition is generally caused by a bacterial infection in another part of the body. 

Henry's wife Joanna flew from the U.K. to join him, and doctors performed surgery in an attempt to save his life, but the condition was too advanced and his exhausted body had no strength to fight off the attack. Joanna released a statement saying she was "heartbroken with sadness" and that her husband had passes away due to "complete organ failure."

We've been following Henry's progress in the Antarctic here at The Adventure Blog since before he even set out on his journey. It was a difficult endeavor to say the least, but when he reached the South Pole back on January 4th he seemed strong and in good spirits. In recent days it became evident that he was struggling however, as the long journey truly took its toll. He skied in near whiteout conditions his last few days on the ice, and photos of him in his tent showed a man who was gaunt and weary beyond measure. 

I never met Henry in person, but I followed his expeditions closely and cheered him on in his adventures. With this Antarctic crossing I read his expedition updates nearly every day, and wrote numerous times about his progress. When I read the news that he had passed away I felt incredibly sad. He was strong, adventurous spirit who challenged himself to amazing things, and he will continue to serve as an inspiration to many of us. 

Worsley's story will also serve as a reminder. Despite what we might think, we haven' quite conquered the planet just yet. There are still some tasks that remain incredibly difficult, and Mother Nature is the most formidable opponent of all. 

I want to express my sincerest condolences to Henry's wife Joanna, and all of his friends and family. We lost a great man today, and he will be missed. 


Roz Savage said...

Incredibly well said, Kraig. I only met Henry once, but was most impressed by his passion but also his professionalism. I, too, was shocked and saddened to hear that he had died. A great loss.

Allegro RED said...

Henry Worsley is the typical English Dick Head, totally detached from his abilities and consumed by his ego! Just trying to make headlines with something nobody is interested in, which does not increase our knowledge or understanding of anything! All it teaches us is how much English people are absorbed in their own twisted world, encouraged by their elitist peers, who themselves have nothing to contribute to science or society! Completely useless and self indulging undertakings such as a "solo and unassisted" Antarctic crossing have no place in the media or in any news report. Henry Worsley wanted to be a hero, but he didn't die like a hero! He died a failure, a failure brought about by his ego and his desire to be in the media. So the only thing Henry Worsley will ever be remembered for is being a monumental failure!

Kraig Becker said...

Allegro RED: I published your comment because I'm not one to censure anyone's opinion, and obviously you're free to think what you want. But I simply can't agree with your assessment of Henry on any level. For starters, he served in the military for 36 years, which by many regards is enough to be called a hero. He has also conducted a number of polar expeditions and has shown his ability and resolve on more than one occasion. On some of those previous expeditions he helped collect data to be used to study climate change, and on this current journey he raised over $235,000 for charity. Those are noble efforts indeed.

Beyond that however, how about showing a little respect for the dead, or at least the friends and family that he leaves behind.

Tracy Meyer said...

Allergen Red: Well, I guess you would know about being a failure. You have failed to have the slightest bit of respect for a fellow human being and failed at having basic bit a heart. Reading your comment made me sad that you are a soulless being that most likely are living a loveless life. What a shame that you had to take the time to rip apart this man's life. He is a hero for many reasons! Please rethink your heartless comments before posting.

Unknown said...

I suspect that "Allegro Red" may be an internet troll, as there is no way that a normal human being would post such comments.
My response to the actual post is.....l sincerely hope that these are not the actual views of a human being.

Terri said...

Huge respect for Henry, his heart, drive and accomplishments. He had the balls to take on a massive endeavor that was well thought out and all for a worthy cause—beyond what most of us can conceive. Big thanks to his family who supported Henry in being such an inspiration for so so many. His courage will live on. RIP Henry.

Marina Ugo said...

Henry Worsley was a man to be admired and he will be missed by many. "Allegro Red" doesn't interest me as a person so I would not bother to answer him but his comment saddens me. His comment saddens me because it shows us how clueless people are nowadays. Shallowness is one of many disservices of social media. I wish people like him could see beyond the biases of their own narrow world and become more understanding of what a real accomplishment is and how important are the men who try to go beyond the ordinary in a very meaningful way. Here is a link to an obituary published by The Economist with some insights about Henry Worsley