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.

An Off Day (Day 47)

Day 47: S85° 24' 7.2", E159° 50' 32.64"

Duration: 9 Hr

Daily distance: 17.5 Mi

Distance to go: 1222.2 Mi

Temperature: -24 °C

Wind chill: -36 °C

Altitude: 8074 Ft

There was some big talk in the tent last night of getting a 38km day today, and once we'd buried the depot we set off over what seemed flat terrain at a breakneck pace, enjoying towing sleds that were lighter than they'd ever been on this expedition. Things started going wonky after the first hour: we were going uphill again, then we started turning south a kilometre or two sooner than we should have done, getting caught up in the far western edge of the Shackleton Ice Falls.

What looked like a clear-ish way through to the plateau ended up being a bit of a nightmare. Eventually we admitted defeat and partially retraced our steps, heading further west before finding a good route for our final ascent to the plateau. Physically I was near rock-bottom today. We're both tired from the last 46 days of slog, but for some reason I suffered like a particularly unfortunate dog, my legs feeling empty and my body struggling to get out of second gear. I felt woefully weak towards the end of the day (and it's been a very long day: we took the tent down at 7.30am and didn't clamber into it again until 8.45pm) and struggled to control the downward spiral of my mood and self-talk.

Lying here now (10pm, we're just about to eat dinner) things don't seem too bad, and I'm hoping for a miraculous recovery in the six or seven hours of sleep we're averaging. The good news is that we're now on a straight line bearing for the Pole, heading due south, and at nearly 2,500m above sea level tonight, almost all of the serious climbing is behind us. More soon... P.S. It's getting chilly again!


# Anton Uhl, December 11th 2013

You candidly sharing your down moods and energy is almost more inspiring than when you have great days because we know you will find your strength and drive again because you are in an environment that demands it. Here at home we can be tempted to slip into comfort and distraction from our own imperatives instead of taking the next step when we are down. We support you from the depths of our hearts with gratitude for sharing your courage so we, and generations to come, can live better lives because of what you do and share.
Love always,

# Intrepid, December 11th 2013

The reflection of Tarka on the sunglasses looks vastly different from the mood oozing behind those glasses. Expediting some humor. All welcome to join in.

What happens at the Pole stays on the blog
Par for the Pole
Haven’t been Snowden yet
135.8 F (93.2 C)  - was that really necessary
When you’ve got the blues, stick a crampon in it
Here, have a sip of history

Cheers to both of you.

# McDowell, December 12th 2013

Hang in there guys. Keep up the amazing work.

# Alastair Humphreys, December 12th 2013

Hi guys,
You are doing brilliantly, but it sounds to me as though you need to have a rest - either a whole day or something I liked to do on long phases of my bike trip: stop an hour or two early for two days in a row. It feels like a real treat, allows you to catch up on jobs (or sleep) and reduces the strain of a day or the impatience of a full day off in a tent.

The key to you finishing this trip is to keep in good shape - you can always beast yourselves later in the trip. Take it steady for now . (In Swahili the phrase for this is “Pole Pole” (‘poll-y - poll-y) which seems doubly apt for you guys now!

Remember this too:
the two of you are a team. It is you two versus Antarctica. You two versus the whole damned world if you like! Resist the (natural) temptation of competitive men to begin measuring yourselves against each other. You are the sum of your parts. You need the other man to be strong and to be firing well. Don’t wish them ill so that you can be faster . When I was pushing hard in Siberia for 3 months without days off, Rob and I became dis-connected from the world. And rather than helping each other / praising each other we began to resent each other’s small triumphs. We began competing against each other which is dumb and counter-productive!
So try to see how you can help the other guy, how you can praise the other guy and -hardest of all- don’t be afraid to ask the other guy for help if you need it (mental or physical).

Right - enough of my pop psychology!
I wish I was out there with you guys,

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