TODAY   |  March 10, 2013

The struggle of early Antarctic exploration

Modern-day expeditions to Antarctica are a more pampered escape than the harrowing ordeals they once were, but a couple men remember the heroes of previous expeditions a little better than most. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> how cute are those penguins.

>>> this morning, a journey to the bottom of the earth. do you remember learning about the explorers that juourneyed to the south poll. kerry sanders went with some men who have a rather unique connection.

>> reporter: antarctica, today, a voyage is a pampered escape. a far cry from the voyage this man's grandfather made to reach the south pole .

>> reporter: in those days, it was like going to space. falcon scott is the look-alike grandson of the man that reached that southern spot on earth that died on his bitter return.

>> the final blow was when they were marching into minus 40 degrees in a head wind of 30, 30 knots, which is a killer.

>> reporter: he and this man, cousin to another famed explorer, sir earnest shackle tshackleton recently met in antarctica, where his wooden hut still stands.

>> it has been here since 1903 .

>> reporter: the original scott and shackleton first traveled in 1901 but later became rivals. shackleton secured his name in history when his ship the endurance was trapped and crushed stranding he and his men. are are when the supplies ran out, the crew would use their bare hands to catch and eat penguins.

>> it is sort of a disaster on paper but the rescue story is far greater than if he would have managed to cross the continent, i think.

>> before it was over, the men would eat their sled dogs to survive. shackleton managed to get all 29 men home alive. a hellish ordeal that lasted nearly two years.

>> he cared for the people he was with. he was an optimist, the key thing.

>> reporter: a century extra, the exploration continues on inflatable zodiac boats thanks to the few and the brave that came before.

>> it helps to remember people are courageous and let those people inspire us.

>> reporter: just like your grand dad?

>> just like my grand dad, indeed.

>> reporter: for these men, retracing the sacrifices of ancestors, whose sacrifices still captivate.

>>> kerry sanders special report continues