the Journey

  • Distance to go: 0 Mi

    Ben and Tarka will cover 1800 miles starting from Scott's Terra Nova Hut at the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back to the coast again. That's equivalent to 69 back-to-back marathons hauling up to 200kg each (the weight of roughly two adult men) of kit and supplies necessary to survive.

    Distances here are shown in statute miles.

A Milestone Day (Day 98)

Day 98: S79° 51' 16.31", E168° 37' 46.56"

Duration: 10 Hr

Daily distance: 24.5 Mi

Distance to go: 174 Mi

Temperature: -14 °C

Wind chill: -21 °C

Altitude: 184 Ft

Lots of boxes ticked today; we're inside 79 degrees south, we picked up our depot (the last one that we had very little leeway to hit - we have food, fuel and time in reserve now) and we're very close to - though perhaps not quite past - Scott's last camp. We'll pass that and the position of his One Ton Depot tomorrow, and we expect to see land again in the form of Minna Bluff, and perhaps the distant summits of Erebus and Terror in the next day or so as well.

Alas this is a speedy update as we're late from picking up the depot and putting in a big-mileage day on a surface that wasn't ideal, and I'm the snow-melting chef tonight. It was colder today though Antarctica treated us (finally!) to a spot of sunshine, and to our great surprise we were able to pick up and follow our old tracks again. The sun is noticeably lower in the sky with each passing day now, though of course, we're still skiing during the local night time, and it starts to rise higher again as we pitch our camp in the evening, meaning we're nice and warm in the tent.

Tarka and I talked a lot today about what it must have been like for Scott, Oates, Wilson and Bowers out here a century ago, and more than a month later into the autumn than we are now. The longer we're out here, the more our sense of awe and respect at what those men faced and endured continues to grow.

I'll answer some more questions tomorrow (when Tarka's cooking) but for now I'll sign off by thanking you all again for your interest and support. After grumbling about whiteouts and headaches for days, I'm happy to report that Tarka and I are both starting to get excited about how close we're getting to the finish line.

More soon...


# Heidi, January 31st 2014

Dear Ben and Tarka, this has been a good day:  sunshine, depot, finding your previous tracks.  We are so happy and thankful that things let up a bit.  Nearly there, gentlemen.  I will be holding my breath until you arrive at your destination.  Many thanks to you both for your superhuman efforts to maintain contact with us.  It is quite a privilege to hear from you.  Warmest hugs.

# Marc Koska, January 31st 2014

Well done!  As you approach 100 days and more importantly the ‘last mile’ I wanted to ask you something which earlier in the journey possibly might have been inappropriate!  Is the lack of external heat sources a major dehumanising factor for you?  In the last 98 days, I have hugged my children and wife and AGA and coffee and tea mugs and sat by endless log fires.  And been to Tanzania and relished the African sun.
You rely on a small vicious stove no doubt to melt frozen water and heat food.  Not doubt it warms the tent and your fingers and dries socks?  Perhaps?  In a very efficient and vital way.  But most of the day you are creating your ‘heat’ internally.
Would you say absorbing heat from a fire or the sun, a fundamental human necessity from your current Polar position?  I don’t mean as a species and primary survival etc. But probably as a more spiritual necessity.  Would be interesting to know.  When you have time.
Again many congratulations.  Total heroes.

# Janet Stanley, January 31st 2014

Great going again guys, it must be very poignant to pass nearby ,where would have been the last camp of Captain Scott & One Ton depot. Stay safe ;)

# wonderwoman, January 31st 2014

Good question, Marc! Thank you for that. And Ben and Tarka; It gives us all followers many kinds of feelings, now that you are passing those historical points in the map and making a history of your own. God bless you.

# cifa, January 31st 2014

well done lads :) am still following all your footsteps :)
nearly there..
We only use 10% if our brain. imagine what we could accomplish if we used the other 60% :)

# Richard Pierce, January 31st 2014

Dear Ben & Tarka,

Good to have confirmation that you had some clear weather yesterday (I had hoped as much seeing you travelling on your old line on GE), and were able to have your moods lightened by that yellow orb.

Today will probably be a day of conflicting emotions for you as you pass the rough position of Scott’s final camp and think of what came to pass there in March 1912, as well as what will probably be elation at finally breaking new groundon the way back and walking your way into the history books for all time.

There will still be difficulties ahead, even when those far-off silhouettes come into view. Be strong, keep going and striving, and try to savour the last wilderness you march through.

Good luck, take care, and God speed.


# dj, January 31st 2014

Nice Richard.  [They should be due west of the Scott parties’ final resting place around 11 am GMT today - see the comment I’m currently writing below]

# Kat, February 1st 2014

Oh and further to Richard’s comments on Bower’s walking while the others skiied, Oates had spent very long days and nights looking to the well-being of the ponies on the outward leg of the journey, and was well knackered as the final party set off on the plateau.

# Offroading Home, January 31st 2014

The “hope” that now permeates your posts is contagious and we’re as relieved as you are to not read a post full of pain and anguish.  Now that you’ve picked up your cache - earlier than the “Saturday” that you previously spoke about - can you still not divulge where it was located?  You passed two former camps today - “officially” which one was it at? (24 or 23)  You made a “beeline” for camp 24 and, seemed to stop long enough at it to have retrieved a cache, but you also crossed right over camp 23 as well (even if it seemed like you didn’t take extra time in that GPS segment).  I’m sure you feel you have your reasons to have kept them close to your vest on the way out (even if others didn’t see it) are the reasons over now or do you still need to keep hush about it?

The “old Scott trip” that we found available on the web from their published coordinates is, as many of you know, found in the Google Earth Antarctica Resource File available free from this page: Your .trail today is about four miles west of the trail they created from Scott’s coordinates; HOWEVER, today you did pass the location given for the 17th of March, 1912 - the date given for Oates death. It was about 8 miles back. At your current average pace (1.89 miles per hour) you should pass the location where they found the bodies of Scott, Wilson and Bowers today (1/31/14). They died about the 30th of March 1912 about 8 miles northeast of where you are camped tonight (1/30-31/2014).

They didn’t survive the ordeal and you almost couldn’t, but did! Thanks in part to the, yes compulsive tediousness, of the only “blog posts” that existed at their time—their diaries. Not as full of “feelings and emotion” as you blogged that you would have liked; but, taking no less stamina for them to create than it did you and allowing those coming after enough specific detail to know what happened and why.  I’m sure you’re as grateful for what they recorded as the many who have come before you developing the trails, techniques and equipment that allowed you to succeed.

My hat will be doft and head bowed about 3 and half hours into your journey today when you pass their final resting place. [Assuming you keep the same schedule and speed today as you have this past week - it will be about 11 am GMT (4am MST)].

Cheers… to BOTH of your teams!

# Jarda, January 31st 2014

If you mention Scott’s diaries, I was always wondering why one of the hardiest members of Scott’s team, “Birdie” Bowers, stopped writing his diary so soon - I think in early February 1912.

# Richard Pierce, January 31st 2014

Unlike the other 4, he walked the last 200 miles to the Pole (left his skis behind), and he was exceptionally busy with measuring temperatures & distance. Scott said Bowers was always the last to turn in at night because he was so busy (and exhausted, I should think). R

# Kat, February 1st 2014

I think with the exception of Scott, all the men fell silent in their diaries…can anyone confirm?  I’m assuming this with foggy memories of biographies of Oates, and Bowers. Did Wilson continue to write his in his diary? Does anyone here know? I could imagine that as that trek got more and more impossible, horrible, inexpressible, and as they felt more and more the way Ben and Tarka did when they called in a re-supply by plane,after they knew that they had lost the prize (that pole photo that is so incredibly sad), after losing Evans on the way back, that they may have not had the emotional or physical energy to write in their diaries.  Can anyone come
along and clarify?

Ben and Tarka, still watching every day for the wonderful blog posts, and photos and videos.

Thanks for sharing…be careful!

# CaninesCashews, January 31st 2014

Hi guys,

How wonderful to see those clear skies and know that the land is creeping ever closer.

I imagine it makes a massive difference to be able follow your 75 day old tracks. A bit less time concentrating on frame compasses might mean a bit more time to take in this amazing continent.

I don’t usually get ahead of myself on the blog but as the expedition reaches its last stages it is difficult not to.

I imagine today will be a strange one today, passing Scott’s camp and recognising the enormity of what you have achieved so far.

You will be forging new ground today – literally walking into history. Remember this experience is unique, only one team can be the ‘first’ to do something and you will be that team, the first to tread new ground following Scott’s route. A remarkable mix of emotions I imagine.

God Speed on the last few days boys.

Stay safe.

# John Brain, January 31st 2014

Truly a poignant moment, now that you are passing the point wher Scott and his companions perished. Nothing should undermine what you have accomplished, but at the same time it reminds us how great were the accomplishments of Scott, Amundsen and Shackleton, given what they achieved with the relatively primitive technology of a century ago.

Looking at your faces in the recent blogs, I cannot but comment that, notwithstanding the immense tiredness that both of you must feel, you both look remarkably well, compared to those pinched and weathered faces we see in photos of yesteryear.

# DJ - Offroading Home, January 31st 2014

As I write this it is 3:25 am MST (10:22 GMT) 1/31/2014. The last transmitted GPS coordinates (10:22 am GMT) show that Ben and Tarka will pass south-latitude of -79.761299 degrees in about 30 minutes (10:50 am GMT) - which is the approximate latitude where the bodies of Scott, Wilson and Bowers were found in 1912 about 6 miles east. They died about March 30th, 1912. Find Captain Robert Scott’s expedition trail, campsites and cache depots in the Google Earth Antarctic Resource File available free at: [Open the “Trails - Historical Expeditions” folder and click on “Scott’s 1912 Voyage.” His “outbound” track is in green and return trip in purple. Waypoint icons correspond to coordinates and dates given in journals. Click on any waypoint or track-line to see an explanation pop-up box.

If everything goes nominally, the next scheduled transmission of their trackpoint (11:22 am GMT) will show that they have crossed the red latitude line, drawn in the Google Earth file to indicated the point beyond which they will most likely be setting record.

# Darren Moore, January 31st 2014

LEGENDS!!!  See you when you’re back for a few laps of Richmond Park with the gang and a Full English Breakfast like what Mark Twight sent a picture of!!

Hang in there… almost done now…


# Mal Owen, January 31st 2014

This morning I opened my curtains, looked up to the sky and hey presto, whiteout, not a cloud in sight ! How I let my imagination wander. I suspect both yours and Tarka’s are at their height being so close to those invisible landmarks which began your dream so many years ago and have kept you pushing onwards for those 98 days. I can’t help but think you have had help in finding those old tracks of yours. My hubby’s birthday today 31/01/14…. In future years my thoughts will turn towards yourselves,recordbreakers, and Scott’s Polar Party at around 11am on that day.
It tried to snow here in the Midlands yesterday ... seems there is plenty up there just waiting to descend. It’s good to hear you’ve collected supplies and are in cheerful mood? Enjoy the extra provisions. It’s amazing what a little sunshine can do for the soul, it certainly keeps the SAD away and helps retain our humour. I’m cutting out all my clothes labels today to help with my weight loss and I’ve found a book for my new flat pack bookcase which I struggled to put together yesterday.

A Tribute to Scott’s 1800 by Miles Hugo

# Richard Pierce, January 31st 2014

Splendid. If there was a like button, I’d have pressed it. :-) R

# Mal Owen, January 31st 2014

There is and you can press the button ...I’ve just posted to FB for you :-)

# Richard Pierce, January 31st 2014

Can’t find it! Exercise calls. R

# Phil Satoor, January 31st 2014

Surely cutting out the clothes labels won’t help very much with your weight loss.  They don’t weigh very much do they?  Regards from ... “Puzzled from London”

# CaninesCashews, January 31st 2014

Phil, I think its the Tesco theory - Every Little Helps :-)

# Mal Owen, January 31st 2014

Well it sure helped Ben and Tarka to get into the Guinness Book of records ...why not me ??

If you haven’t already seen it you may find this link interesting. ;-)

# Phil Satoor, February 1st 2014

Thanks for the link which I hadn’t seen before.

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