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 Very Long Walk (Day 97)

Day 97: S80° 12' 34.67", E168° 34' 30.36"

Duration: 9 Hr 30 Min

Daily distance: 24.2 Mi

Distance to go: 198.5 Mi

Temperature: -12 °C

Wind chill: -17 °C

Altitude: 197 Ft

I don't have an awful lot to tell you today, as we spent all of it battling into a full-blown, emulsion-thick whiteout, so we didn't see a single thing. We lost our old tracks within the first half hour, we both have splitting headaches from peering into the gloom as we navigated, unable to focus on anything, and shoulders and necks knotted into spasm from hunching over our compass bracket (that straps around our chests to leave our hands free for ski poles). We managed to clock 39km, which we're pleased with, and which means we're still on track to hit our depots and make it back to Ross Island on schedule.

One thing we are excited about is that Andy informed us on our evening check-in satellite phone call that we appear to have become the longest man-hauling (i.e. human-powered, sledge-dragging) polar expedition in history, by more than 335km.

Lastly, in today's gloomy weather there was nothing that inspired me to take a photograph. "Take one in the tent," said Andy, "People love that. Even a food bag or something." So that's what you've got: a still-life taken from the position of my head. As you can see, it's Thai chicken curry tonight (we peeled off the food bag labels in Chile to save weight) and as I'm not cooking, I'm in charge of overseeing battery charging from the solar panels. 


# Mal Owen, January 30th 2014

Post to facebook for my daughter .... “I took a leaf out of yours and the drs book, dreamt I was struggling to get out of a crevasse, woke up at 12 ish and couldn’t get back to sleep ! Oh well, so much for Malco Polo !!”  That’s what my kids call me these days !

# Phil Satoor, January 30th 2014

Every day I log in and wonder if you’ll have slowed down a bit, but no, like “ol’ man river”, you “jes’ keep rollin’ along”.

# Chris, January 30th 2014

Massive congratulations on the record!  That is truly amazing and hats off to both of you, my fullest and deepest respect.  Now you’re going to go and smash the record even more emphatically as you add another 200 miles!

# Colin Barton, January 30th 2014

Removing the labels from your food pouches is genius, not sure I have heard of that one before! I remember reading of one explorer who on finishing both sides of a page in his booked ripped it out and disposed of it, could have been Sir Ran or Dr Mike??

# Intrepid, January 30th 2014

Those videos are addictive. I start watching one and end up clicking on all the others that pop up! Well done!!

# Ariane, January 30th 2014

I could not help be reminded of Mandela’s Long Walk. Take heart from his:

“It was during those long and lonely years that my hunger for the freedom of my own people became a hunger for the freedom of all people, white and black. I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed. A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.

When I walked out of prison, that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both. Some say that has now been achieved. But I know that that is not the case. The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.

I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.”

Onward and upward, fellas.

# Brett, January 30th 2014

As I once again wake up in the States to your updates (a balmy -5 here), I inform my kids of what you are accomplishing and always end, Amazing and Inspirational.

# Raven, January 30th 2014

My goodness, how much weight did you save by removing those labels? That’s a really interesting comment on how precarious this whole endeavor is.

# Intrepid, January 30th 2014

Andy - Do you know (approx) how much weight they are still pulling?

# Andy Ward, January 30th 2014

Approx. 62.5kg each at the moment. This will obviously fluctuate up and down with the collection of depots on route.

# Intrepid, January 30th 2014

Yow, that seems quite a bit of weight to still be pulling 97 days later. I recall reading that at least 60 lbs (or is that kg) of weight is tech/communications gear. Sure gives credence to spending R&D money on always working towards more innovative,smaller, lighter, faster, and longer lasting (especially in extreme conditions) high tech!

# Colin Buckley, January 30th 2014

Nearly there, that big moment of triumph is close.
Strength, and focus are the main thing now. The rest is slowly becoming history, behind you.
Look forward to your future as the men who DID IT!
GREAT Going Guys.
Stay safe.

# Intrepid, January 30th 2014

198 miles of skiing to go, 198 miles to go,
You ski some more, make tracks in the snow,
197 miles of skiing to go.
197 miles of skiing to go, 197 miles to go,
You ski some more, make tracks in the snow,
196 miles of skiing to go….

Dear Ben and Tarka,

Under normal conditions, keeping your head down and staying due course means you are staying on task through thick and thin. It means nothing is getting in the way. Not the weather, without night, the condition of snow, the hunger for more food, or the roller coaster ride of thoughts and moods. But you are not in normal conditions. You are pegging the extremes of extreme!!!!  Your post today reminded me of the expression “and this is just the tip of the iceberg”.  I feel for the experience you guys are having, and the agony of what it is truly like, pressing onwards through such dire straits.

With great admiration for all your efforts, including having the stamina to maintain contact with your readers (who are in awe as well as inspired in countless ways by the power of your determination and completing this expedition in spite of everything that happens along the way).


# Heidi, January 30th 2014

“But you are not in normal conditions. You are pegging the extremes of extreme!!!”

Dear Tarka and Ben, it sounds vastly challenging.  Your expedition has been a success because of your ability to endure today - and the 97 days prior.  We are here wishing you and willing you along.  May you somehow find deep rest at night to fortify your bodies for the next day’s quest.  Warm hugs and a bucketful of blessings from So. Cal.

# David Gladwish, January 30th 2014

In awe everyday boys. Respect.

# Tron, January 30th 2014

This is The Ultimate Out and Back Hike

# Richard Pierce, January 30th 2014

Judging from there the boys have got to so far today, I reckon they might actually end up camping very close to where Scott’s final camp was (although that now, of course, is buried by up to 30 metres of snow and has been drifting northwards for over a hundred years at over 1 mile a year).


# Barbara B from Clinton, CT USA, January 30th 2014

Wishing these 2 young men continued strength and inspiration to keep on trucking.
I have followed along being inspired daily by their courage.
I have also enjoyed the jokes limericks and lines posted.
I may need help from Richard to improve upon a limerick I began.

For Ben and Tarka

Two explorers who hailed from Eur
Rope with sleds harnessed on and with fur
Round their faces their “staches”
Ice sculpted their glasses
Reflect dreams ne’er a white out can blur

Or should it be
Round their faces their “staches”
Encase crumbs from their caches
Salami and clean socks the lure

Enamored, inspired and humbled,
Barbara B, Clinton, CT USA

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