Alfred Lansing’s description of Shackleton’s unease going into the sea voyage that marked part VI of Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage simultaneously presented a major difference between mountaineering and maritime adventure narratives in general.
“Unlike the land, where courage and the simple will to endure can often see a man through, the struggle against the sea is an act of physical combat, and there is no escape. It is a battle against a tireless enemy in which man never actually wins; the most that he can hope for is not to be defeated.” 221
Based on the mountaineering literature that we have read thus far, I do not believe that the struggle against land can’t be an act of physical combat, but otherwise I agree with Lansing’s statement. The Ocean, frequently personified into having moods and temperaments, is a more active antagonist for me than Mountains can be. Significantly, there is no fast escape. There is no “void” for the adventurer to fall into, which leads to a closer relationship forming between man and element. The sailor’s curse is closer to purgatory, and lends to a very different style of narration. The seafaring section of this story struck me as much more intimately involved in the threats against sanity than preceding sections.