At the beginning of the 20th century, Douglas Mawson, an Australian scientist set out to explore the Antarctica; a difficult task that has not worked so well for others.
On December 14, 1912, Mawson and two of his colleagues, Xavier Mertz and Belgrave Ninnis were attempting to return to base after a few days of exploration, only to meet a grave tragedy. Ninnis has fallen into a crevasse, 310 miles from base, dragging their sled, supplies, and most of their dogs down with him. Mawson and Merts now having to walk through a lifeless ice field with no shelter, and only a third of their food requirement to make the journey.
Contemplating eating what dogs had left after they had run out of food, which would have them carrying their own sled. Between starvation, the cold, and exhaustion, it eventually claimed Mertz’s life; leaving Mawson to complete this dangerous trip alone. Still, the chilling Antarctic can’t defeat a man who grew up in Australia. As he started suffering from conjunctivitis and frostbite, his skin, hair, and the skin on the bottom of his feet began to fall off, but Mawson continued to fight on.
To Mawson’s luck, his sled got wedged into the snow and he fell into a crevasse, dangling helplessly above the abyss below, sled behind him edging closer to his end. Managing to pull himself up and escaping imminent death, he survived 32 more days in the harshest environment on the planet to finally reach base. Just hours before he reaches base, the ship that was meant to take him back had sailed off, believing him to be dead, which left him having to wait 10 more months before leaving.
Before settling into his long wait to return home, Mawson sent his fiancée a telegram: “Deeply regret delay only just managed to reach the hut.”