London, United Kingdom, January 11, 2014 --(PR.com
)-- When Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance was crushed and sunk by the ice just off the Antarctic coast in November 1915, his plans to lead the first trans-Antarctic expedition went down with her. Before the ship slipped beneath the surface, Meteorologist Leonard Hussey rescued his beloved banjo. Despite Shackleton’s instructions allowing for only two pounds of personal items per person on their ultimately successful race for survival, the veteran polar explorer gave special permission for the 12-pound instrument to be taken along. Shackleton viewed Hussey’s banjo as "vital mental medicine" for the trials ahead.
This October, the five-member team of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Centenary Expedition (ITACE) will strike out across the frozen continent on skis, along the original proposed route, on a 1,800-mile journey to complete Shackleton’s “unfinished business.” Dundee native and team member Stewart Stirling will be taking the hand-made “Shackleton E100” with him – the codename for a specially designed, lightweight banjo, crafted by The Great British Banjo Company. The tough banjo will weight only three pounds, and be able to be played at temperatures as low as –67ºF (–55ºC).
"With all the things we have to consider for an expedition of this length, I didn't think that learning how to play the banjo would be high on my list of priorities, but linking up with The Great British Banjo Company has not only made that a reality, it’s added a new dimension to ITACE. The E100 banjo will probably be the most technically advanced banjo in the world. Carrying and playing it at the South Pole is a welcomed challenge, and forges yet another historical link with Shackleton’s expedition. I'm sure both Shackleton and Hussey would have approved," said Stirling.