The Crossing of Antarctica

One hundred years after Sir Ernest Shackleton set out on his ill-fated attempt to cross Antarctica, this book celebrates the expedition that succeeded where he failed. Thom Hunt of 7th Rise and Channel 4's Three Hungry Boys shares his thoughts on The Crossing of Antarctica

Fierce winter winds carved a gully behind the hut at Shackleton © The George Lowe Collection

Fierce winter winds carved a gully behind the hut at Shackleton © The George Lowe Collection

In a world saturated by health and safety regulations, hedging your bets and insurance for every possible scenario, this book smashes through wary modern thinking like a freight train on its way to unexplored corners of the world.

The Cross of Antarctica tells the story of the 1957-58 expedition led by Vivian ‘Bunny’ Fuchs – an epic journey that fulfilled Shackleton’s dream and became one of the 20th century’s triumphs of exploration, a powerful expression of human willpower. 

The book comes from a time when men were men, with beards and dexterity; men who could fix almost anything and would laugh in the face of a blizzard. The photography – sourced from the private archives of Everest veteran George Lowe as well as items from the Fuchs' family collection – is mind blowing and the words and interviews a mixture of poetry, philosophy and downright bluntness. And why wouldn't they be? These chaps had been there, done that and gone back for more. 

I, for one, am thankful that these stories and photos have been discovered and published but I guess the last real test is this: if we read such tales of courage and determination then we close the pages only to remain stagnant, I believe we are doing a disservice not only to ourselves but also to these great men of adventure. Greatness is not reserved for the few enlightened ones, it is available for each and any of us who commit to advancing towards the unknown. This book taught me, just when I needed it, that the extraordinary is but a decision away.

If life is as adventurous as you want it to be then it ain't broke, so don't fix it. But if thoughts lurk in your mind of a life less ordinary, buy this book, read it,  then see how far the rabbit hole goes.

Star rating: 5/5

Reconnaissance foray on the Skelton Glacier, 1957 © The George Lowe Collection

Reconnaissance foray on the Skelton Glacier, 1957 © The George Lowe Collection

© The George Lowe Collection

© The George Lowe Collection

© The George Lowe Collection

© The George Lowe Collection

George Lowe taking a portrait of a penguin  © Jon Stephenson

George Lowe taking a portrait of a penguin  © Jon Stephenson

© The George Lowe Collection

© The George Lowe Collection

© The George Lowe Collection

© The George Lowe Collection

Vivian ‘Bunny’ Fuchs’ Sno-Cat Rock’n’Roll becomes jammed nose first in the far wall of a deep crevasse © The George Lowe Collection

Vivian ‘Bunny’ Fuchs’ Sno-Cat Rock’n’Roll becomes jammed nose first in the far wall of a deep crevasse © The George Lowe Collection

© The George Lowe Collection

© The George Lowe Collection

© The George Lowe Collection

© The George Lowe Collection

The Crossing of Antarctica: Original Photographs from the Epic Journey that Fulfilled Shackleton's Dream by George Lowe and Huw Lewis-Jones is published by Thames & Hudson at £24.95.

Reviewer and adventurer Thom Hunt runs bushcraft and wild cookery courses with 7th Rise and is one of the Three Hungry Boys on Channel 4.

Stoney Bay Chowder

What does one eat in the Antarctic? In our fourth digital issue Wendy Trusler and Carol Devine their share culinary experiences, provisions lists and Victorian explorer menus from their fascinating book The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning, including this recipe for a warming seafood chowder

Photo: Sandy Nicholson, Recipe: Wendy Trusler

Photo: Sandy Nicholson, Recipe: Wendy Trusler

In 1996, Carol Devine and Wendy Trusler led volunteer groups for The Joint Russian-Canadian Ecological Project at Bellinghausen station on the Antarctic peninsula. People from five countries paid to pick up 28 years of rubbish during their holiday on a continent uniquely devoted to peace and science. The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning is a journey through that austral summer. It is also a look at the challenges of cooking in a makeshift kitchen.

The book unfolds in the style of Antarctic publications such as Sir Ernest Shackleton’s handmade Aurora Australis, through provision lists, menu plans, journals and letters. 

Whenever the volunteers' Russian neighbours’ catch was particularly bountiful Wendy, the site cook, made this chowder. 


225g/8oz slab bacon 
2 onions
1 celery stalk
6 medium potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
3 to 4 ears of corn (about 3 cups corn kernels)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon salt
1 bay leaf 900g/310oz cod fillet, (or some other white fish)
1.5 litres water    
350ml whipping cream    
freshly ground pepper


Finely chop the onions, dice the celery and potatoes and remove corn kernels from the cob. Dice the bacon then cook it in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over a medium heat, stirring often, until lightly browned at the edges.This should take about two minutes.Add the onions and celery to the pot and cook over a low heat until soft, for about five minutes.

Melt the butter and stir in the thyme and salt.When the herbs have warmed thoroughly, mix in the potatoes and cook until they are slightly softened. Stir in the corn and let it cook for a minute or two then bring up the heat, add the bay leaf and pour in the water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Cut the fish into good-sized chunks and add to the pot once the potatoes are tender. Gently cook the fish until it pulls apart easily, which should take five minutes. Stir in the cream and cook just long enough to bring everything up to heat.Add freshly ground pepper to taste.

Note: We strongly encourage using sustainable seafood for this recipe. The Madrid Protocol on Environmental Protection, signed in 1991 and entered into force in 1998, prohibits disrupting wildlife. While the kind of small-scale fishing some of us partook in was not yet a breach in 1996, we are aware it was a grey zone and in hindsight are uncomfortable with this.

You can discover more of Carol and Wendy's recipes and experiences on the Antarctic peninsula in iPad issue four, available to download now. Or buy a copy of the book for more recipes.

Inspire a two-wheeled adventure

Are you currently moulded to your sofa as one entity, iPhone in hand, Sugar Puffs welded to your backside? One of these awesome cycle prints on your wall will have you leaping about in your padded lycra shorts in seconds

'Chop 'til you drop' print, £25

For the Chopper geek in your life, this fun silk screen print is illustrated by Harriet Seed on white A3 paper. This is a limited edition of 35 and each one is signed and numbered by the artist.


Bike Sis print, £12

Bike Sis is the coolest bike chick we know, illustrated by Ruby Taylor. Print is A4 size - it will be available in A3 soon. Godspeed also sell matching greeting cards.


Mountain Climb print, £20

Ain't no mountain high enough. This inspiring print by Sam Brewster is perfect for the ambitious cyclist and will get even the most cushion-enveloped sofa dweller in the mood for a two-wheeled adventure. Printed in the UK.


Velo print, £20

We love the tiny heads in Joe Waldron's illustrations. This A3 VELO print is produced exclusively for Godspeed.


We chose this selection of prints from our Directory member Godspeed, an online store that aims to cater for the style conscious bicycle lover.  

A woodcutter's cabin

In our fourth digital issue, we asked printmaker Robin Mackenzie to create a map of a travelling craftsperson's journey building a boat along the River Ouse in East Sussex. Robin tells us more about his unique method of illustrating, his grandmother's old cabin and his inspirational banjo...

Illustration: Robin Mackenzie

Illustration: Robin Mackenzie

Tell us about your unique method of illustrating. What's your process?

The process always begins with the story. I read through the piece, whether it be a song, poem, editorial piece, and sketch out little thumbnails while I'm reading. Certain parts of a narrative have greater visual potential than others so I focus on these and develop the thumbnails further into a series of rough sketches.  

Then I choose my favourite and draw it out in pencil on to a wooden block. Some printmakers trace their drawing onto the block but I prefer to draw it on freehand from my sketch – I think tracing can look a bit laboured and lose the freshness of the original sketch. I then go over the pencil with a permanent marker so I can then darken the block with a thin layer of writing ink. I do this so that when I am engraving I can see the balance of contrast more clearly as any cuts I make will show the white wood under the dark surface.

Once the block is darkened, I begin engraving.  This is my favourite part of the process as I love the sound of the tools cutting through the wood and seeing my design take shape on the block. 

When I think I have finished the design I take a proof print (sometimes I then need to make minor adjustments to the contrast and forms) and then when I'm totally happy I print the edition.

Why do you love illustrating with wood engravings?

I love that it allows me to work with my hands and forces me to commit to design decisions. There is no undo button and if I make a mistake I have to start again. 

Tell us about your workshop. 

It's a beautiful garden cabin that my grandmother used to work in – she was a stencil artist and lino cutter so it is wonderful to work in the same space she did. The walls are covered with mementos and objects she collected so I am surrounded by inspiration for my work. It is a lovely space to sit and ponder ideas for prints – quite often I'm tinkling on the banjo while doing so!  

What's your favourite snack to fuel an afternoon's illustrating?

Definitely a flat white coffee and a piece of fruit cake.  I really need to cut down on the coffee – don't buy an espresso machine.

What's on your bedside table?

My alarm clock, which endeavours to get me up on time everyday and my current favourite read The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared.

Robin is a printmaker and illustrator specialising in linocuts and wood engraving. His work is inspired by all things folk, in particular the traditional music of the Appalachian mountains.

You can see his beautiful illustrations in our Journeywoman feature in iPad issue 4, available to download now.

iPad issue 4 is ready to download!

Discover Britain's lost villages, enter a room that houses 900 frozen brains and unearth the secret chambers that saved countless priests in the 16th century...

Issue 4 of Ernest Journal...

  • Explores northern towns by way of historical alleyways, snickets, ginnels, jitties, gitties and shuts
  • Reveals how one man's ingenious craftsmanship and derring-do saved countless lives in the 16th century
  • Enters a room filled with 900 frozen brains
  • Searches for Britain's 3,000 deserted settlements – silent, empty and awaiting our return
  • Investigates the mysterious and macabre world of bone collecting
  • Follows a group of re-enactors as they pay tribute to the men who fought on Gold Beach, Normandy in 6 June 1944
  • Puts three types of shaving razors to the test
  • Explores the history of the humble duffle coat
  • Delves into historic tea rituals from around the world

iPad issue 4 of Ernest Journal is available to download now.