1874: Sir Ernest Shackleton, the polar explorer and one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, is born in Kilkea, County Kildare, Ireland. In January 1909, Shackleton and three companions trekked to the farthest south latitude in exploration history up to that time, 97 geographical miles from the South Pole. Although he was beaten to the South Pole by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, he also became famous for his failed attempt in 1914-17 to cross Antarctica. Disaster struck this expedition when its ship, Endurance, became trapped in pack ice and was slowly crushed before the shore parties could be landed. Shackleton was ultimately able to escape with no loss of life.