British explorer Henry Worsley died last week while attempting the first solo expedition across Antarctica in recorded history.
After spending 71 days alone on the continent and traveling over 900 miles, Worsley was just 30 miles away from his destination when he called for help and was airlifted to a hospital in Punta Arenas, Chile. At the time he was suffering from dehydration, severe exhaustion, and a bacterial infection in his abdomen. His wife, Joanna Worsley, later said the explorer died of organ failure. He was 55.
“It is with great sadness that we can confirm that Henry Worsley died on the 24th January 2016 in hospital in Punta Arenas, Chile,” wrote the Shackleton Solo Expedition on Facebook. “We wish to thank the many hundreds of you who have shown unfailing support to Henry throughout his courageous final challenge and for your great generosity to the Endeavour Fund.”
Worsley, a former British Army officer, embarked on the Shackleton Solo Expedition in an attempt to complete Sir Ernest Shackleton’s unsuccessful crossing 100 years ago. The expedition would also raise money for the Endeavour Fund, a charity to help the recovery of wounded servicemen and women. Unfortunately, just like his hero Shackleton, Worsley was forced to call off the expedition before reaching his goal.
“[Worsley] was fulfilling his dream of crossing the Antarctic continent, and after having walked 913 statute miles unsupported and unassisted, battling extreme weather conditions, he made the brave decision, in Shackleton’s words, to ‘shoot the bolt’, 30 miles short of his ultimate goal,” stated the Shackleton Solo Expedition’s website.
“My summit was just out of reach,” Worsley said in his last broadcast from Antarctica before calling for rescue.
“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, and it is with sadness that I report it is journey’s end—so close to my goal,” he said.
Worsley ended his last message by saying he wished for nothing more than a hot cup of tea, and perhaps some cake. He was later picked up by Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE) and transported to Punta Arenas for surgery.
“It is with heartbroken sadness I let you know that my husband Henry Worsley has died following complete organ failure; despite all efforts of ALE and medical staff at the Clinica Magallanes in Punta Arenas, Chile,” said Joanna Worsley.
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, said the explorer will be remembered for his selfless commitment to his fellow servicemen and women.
“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,” Prince William said.
“We are devastated by this loss,” tweeted fellow adventurer Bear Grylls. “One of the strongest men & bravest soldiers I know. Praying for his special family.”
Worsley first arrived at Antartica’s Berkner Island last November.