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 Mixed Bag (Day 29)

Day 29: S81° 05' 11.22", E168° 50' 29.34"

Duration: 8 Hr

Daily distance: 14.7 Mi

Distance to go: 1544.2 Mi

Temperature: -12 °C

Wind chill: -24 °C

Altitude: 115 Ft

Some high points and some low points today. I slept fitfully and woke at 3am to the unmistakable warning grumbles of some rather urgent gastrointestinal distress. A full-on storm was raging outside, I was stripped to my thermal underwear in my sleeping bag (it takes about five minutes to get fully dressed including boots) and Tarka was fast asleep, so I rammed two plastic bags onto my sock-clad feet, clambered into the porch of the tent, zipped myself in, and did what I had to do. Despite burying the fast-freezing evidence, Tarka wasn't exactly over the moon to discover my emergency evacuation when we woke four hours later, and I was the first to admit it hadn't really improved the ambience of our little home.

Then our stove decided to play up. It spluttered sootily through the breakfast snow-melting session but took so long that we were delayed an hour by the time we escaped the tent. And when we did climb out of the door, it was a complete whiteout with a strong headwind. Morale was not at its highest.

Thankfully almost everything improved throughout the day (though I still had to answer the call of nature again before we finished) and we had some really good sections of surface this afternoon. The wind stayed, so we spent all day in goggles and masks, but the sun came out through the clouds and the contrast was good enough to navigate easily all afternoon. We're also inside 81 degrees now, so we're inching closer to the Pole.

We've just swapped the stove for our spare, which is roaring away like a rocket about to take off, and Tarka's servicing the other one while I make dinner (they need a thorough clean every fortnight out here). Dinner, incidentally, is Chicken Jalfrezi, our hottest curry by quite some margin. Kill or cure, I reckon..

Last up, a very happy birthday to Steve Jones, who has worked extraordinarily hard for us over the years to organise the logistics for this expedition. Also, a huge thank you to everyone who is sending us messages of support, either as comments on the site, via email, or to the few that are sending us text messages on the satphone. I'm sorry we can't reply to everyone, but we're more grateful than I know how to say, and please keep them coming.


# Matt Healy , November 23rd 2013

You fellas are amazing. I have been reading your blog everyday and look forward to the next update. Very inspiring stuff. You certainly have a nack for taking others on the journey with you.

# Mike, November 23rd 2013

When you guys hit -90S, any chance you can take a few minutes and stand in front of the webcam at A-S Station? Or maybe leave a sign as “evidence” of your arrival?

Also, what times, UTC, are you usually on the road, so to speak?

Sitting here with my hot tea, space heater, a nice rousing Celtic jig on iTunes, NOT wishing to be at the antarctic.

# Gonçalo Luz, November 23rd 2013

I hope it got better today, with less intestinal distress! That’s a real bummer in such cold. Following you all the way from Portugal. Kudos to you both!

# Sarah, November 23rd 2013

Hope the chicken jalfrezi is a cure rather than a kill.  Keep up the good and inspirational work.

# Richard Pierce, November 23rd 2013

Covering 14.7 miles when you’ve got the trots is pretty impressive, and determined.

I can imagine Tarka not being overly happy with the tent odour. Make sure you do let us know how the Jalfrezi panned out, so to speak.

Less than 9 degrees to go now to the half-way point. Good progress.

Take care.


# Alison P, November 23rd 2013

Way to go, guys, almost 15 miles today!  Ouch, so sorry Ben, for your distress, and Tarka for the unusual wakeup ambiance.  Some day you guys will be laughing about this when you tell the story.  Ben, I so appreciate that you write every evening and describe how it is for you down there, and I heartily cheer you both on every day as I read about what’s happening.

# Hilary, November 23rd 2013

The first thing I do when I switch my laptop on is to check your progress, then check several times during the day on Google Earth to see how far you’ve got. I read Shackleton’s South book this summer and I’m now hooked on the Antarctic and explorers. I’ve read Lost Men and currently reading Heart of the Antarctic. To see photos and descriptions of the things I’ve just read about is amazing, so thank you for the daily blog.

Hope you keep making the superb progress you’re managing so far. Praying the weather stays good for you!

# Harlan, November 23rd 2013

Remarkable, very impressive endeavor!

# Ronald Gijsel, November 23rd 2013

Good luck with the expedition and the jalfrezi aftermath. Very inspirational to read your daily blogs. Thank you!

# Karen Tyned, November 23rd 2013

What are you using to navigate, through white outs, across such s featureless landscape? What is your routine for making sure you are staying on course?

# Ali Turner, November 23rd 2013

Thanks for your daily blog, you’re making awesome progress. Good luck with the expedition and thank you so much for the inspiration. Here’s looking forward to your next blog

# Mal Owen, November 23rd 2013

I too am hooked, reading/watching loads with your writing fuelling the fire.
Nice pic of Tarka’s hands !
Hope it’s “cure and not kill”.... I think I’d have chosen a beef stew but my courage doesn’t match yours!
You’re eating up the miles….Not long to hit the 1500 mark… Onwards and upwards !

# Nansen, November 23rd 2013

Yikes!  Only 2 xgk stoves on a 110 day expedition.  I would be quite concerned at the poor performance of the first stove at this early stage.  Hopefully the cleaning will improve its performance.

# Andrea, November 23rd 2013

A question for whoever has experience of polar latitudes: if you bury something organic in the snow, at such temperatures, does it have a chance of slowly decay and melt into water, or you expect to find it freeze and almost immutated after years? Sorry if it’s a dumb question.
Glad and excited about your progress, Ben and Tarka, hope for a better weather for you today, stay safe and best of luck for this incredible endurance journey.

# Mickey, November 23rd 2013

At such low temperatures, I doubt there are any bacteriae in the snow for decaying.

But, wow, finally I got an answer regarding the calls of nature. I never imagined the guys have a ‘‘porch’‘, or should I say, a tent within a tent. So a big thanks for sharing such an intimate (albeit uneasy) detail.

However, curry after the runs is a really bad idea, someone tell Ben to eat toast and drink black tea if he has any. And preferably dark chocolate. That I think he has plenty. :-)

# dj, November 23rd 2013

There are bacteria (of sorts) at the poles but they are very, very slowly active. All living things produce excrement (think penguins) which, like all things arctic, is quickly frozen (or maybe freeze dried) and is very slowly covered and migrates out to sea (or downward toward bedrock) over time. Think of Everest as a comparison - the open air and ice is the cemetery for deceased climbers for hundreds of years that we know of. Tissues desiccate but not really decompose.

The real issue is the cause. They’re exposed to no one to give them germs. Like astronauts, the germs that will make them sick, they bring with them either corporally or in food stuffs and equipment.  “Hygiene” is the mantra in camping trips.  And Mickey is correct. Spicy food is NOT what one uses to overcome gastroenteritis, especially when one is dealing with such high osmotic loads necessary to yield the thousands of calories a day one needs to function.  In fact, just that alone should most likely keep them on the brink of diarrhea all the time. [Oh, and chocolate is not how one treats loose stools either - if one wants to minimize the time it takes for recovery.]

Lets hope it’s an osmotic diarrhea and not viral or bacterial which could compromise the situation for days to weeks. Which brings up another fairly technical question which you may choose to ignore, what kind of medical kit did you bring with you (for example some Imodium) and did you use any advice from, lets say, NASA to decide what should be in it?

# Andrea, November 23rd 2013

Dj, thanks for your clarifying reply. Best regards, Andrea.

# Liz Hoskins, November 23rd 2013

Hi Ben and Tarka,
I am avidly following your expedition with my year three class, we have been studying adventurers and explorers this term and your expedition has really gripped their imagination.
They have had many many questions for you over the last few weeks, these are just a few of them:
Tiya - ‘What would you do if you ran out of food?’
Olivier - ‘How many times have you fallen over?’
Micah - ‘Have you discovered anything new that nobody has seen before?’
Daniel - ‘Are you enjoying what you are doing?’
Deck - ‘Have you been feeling well?’
Dante -  ‘Is Ben clumsy?’ ‘Tarka, how did you feel when Ben tipped your food?’
Lola - ’ How did you run in the snow to try to get Tarka’s hat?’
Ariana - ‘How do you wash yourself?’
Santino - ‘What do you eat and what is your favourite meal? Have you been scared?’
Sasha - ‘Why is it called Antactica?’
Lauren - ‘I wish I could do what you are doing. Ben, are you alright not to go to sleep every night?’
Tarek - ‘Do you ever get bored? Tarek and Tarka are nearly the same!’
Mia - ’ Firstly I want to know, have you had any fun with snowballs? I am very impressed!’
Ellis - ‘Are you having a good time?’
Dhiya - ‘How long have you been exploring?’
Rahma - ‘I am looking forward to more information ever day.’
We all wish you well in your journey and will be following you every step of the way.
Best wishes
Liz Hoskins

# Scott Expedition Team, November 25th 2013

Thanks Liz. That’s fantastic to hear. Please could you email them to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) too.

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