By the time Earnest Shackleton had set out on his voyage to cross the Antarctic continent, he had already been on two previously failed expeditions. The first one was the "Discovery" under Robert Falcon Scott in an attempt to be the first to reach the still unclaimed South Pole. During this mission Scott's crew endured many hardships, mainly because of Scott's incompetence and lack of leadership. One of the main reasons for the missions" failure was that there wasn't a single person on the expedition that knew how to ski or how to drive sled dogs. Shackleton and Scott had not got along very well on the expedition and Shackleton was sent home early. Although Shackleton was crushed by being sent home, he came back as a hero and received a lot of recognition, which would prove to be valuable for him when he decided to start his own expedition. .
Using all the knowledge he had gained from the discovery expedition, Shackleton obtained money for his own expedition to claim the South Pole and in 1907 purchased a boat he called the "Nimrod". In August of 1907, Shackleton, three companions, a team of 10 Manchurian ponies, and 9 sled dogs began south. The men got to within 100 miles of the pole, surpassing Scotts mark by 360 miles when the decision was made to turn back while it was still possible. They traveled for thirty six hours with almost no rest only to find that their base camp had been abandoned. They were later found by the Nimrods search party and returned home heroes, and Shackleton was knighted. The next few years were spent paying off the nimrods debt by lecturing, and turning the nimrod into a museum. .
As Shackleton was busy paying off his debts, a race heated up between Robert Falcon Scott and Norwegian explorer Ronald Amundsen to be the first to reach the pole. Scott had used mainly the path that Shackleton had taken, but as he neared the pole he noticed the tracks from the Norwegians.