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.

Another Day Closer to Home (Day 76)

Day 76: S86° 49' 6", E159° 37' 12"

Duration: 8 Hr 30 Min

Daily distance: 20.7 Mi

Distance to go: 678.3 Mi

Temperature: -27 °C

Wind chill: -41 °C

Altitude: 9485 Ft

It was cold and windy again on the featureless plateau today. The hours slid by more quickly for me than they did yesterday, which was a relief, though Tarka was feeling chilled most of the time (and wearing everything he has except his down jacket) and said that anything colder might prove problematic.

We have no accurate way out here of determining how much weight or body fat we've each lost, but we did a lot of testing before we left the UK and I was definitely the chubbier of this duo (and proudly so: I'd worked hard and defied heartburn and disapproving looks in the gym to get to 20% body fat and a sizeable belly) so it's likely that Tarka simply has less insulation than I do now. Being lanky doesn't help either; he has a greater surface area radiating heat away, especially in this sort of windchill.

Tarka and I have been moaning and grumbling about the plateau an awful lot, and it's certainly an extraordinarily harsh and desolate place, but I secretly get the occasional bit of pleasure from passing glances at the wind-formed, wave-like patterns in the snow that we ski over for hours every day. Sliced into eighteen-inch squares, framed, hung and tastefully-lit in an art gallery, I reckon they'd draw glowing reviews and queuing crowds, but out here, at a zillion acres a time, it's a little overwhelming and it's rare that I really appreciate any beauty in our current surroundings.

It was time for a spot of sled repair in the tent this evening. I managed to break a few of the rivets that connect the runners (mounted on metal strips) to the base of the sled as we came up the Beardmore, and while the damage has been bugging me for a while, it hasn't got any worse or caused any hindrance up here on the flat-ish plateau. Fixing it has been on the to-do list for a while, so we finally stuck it back on with some epoxy this evening, the runners are taped down to let it set overnight and we'll see how it holds tomorrow.

That's about all there is to report from this little tent this evening. It's good to be inside 86 degrees south now, and our next depot - at the top of the Beardmore - should be five days' travel away...


# Jennifer, January 9th 2014

Taka and Ben, at this point in the expedition, is there anything that we as followers can do to help you?

# Andy Lawrence, January 9th 2014

Good question. What do you need guys?

# Lydia , January 9th 2014

If only I could transport some of my body lard to them they would both have enough to keep them going till the end - why has no one invented that yet.
Keep going chaps - skinny jeans waiting for the pair of you on your return!
Lydia x

# Helena, January 10th 2014

To Lydia: haha, i have so much fat I could go twice to conquer the South Pole :-D Well, I think the only thing we can do to help guys is to cheer them up, for example with jokes :-D
I got one:
The man in the barber chair signalled with his finger. ‘Have you got another razor?’ he whispered.
‘Of course, sir,’ said the barber. ‘But may I ask you why?’
‘I’d like to defend myself,’ said the customer.

# Janet Stanley, January 9th 2014

Good going, stay safe :)

# Pavol Timko, January 9th 2014

Dear Ben and Tarka,

with this pace you will need a bit more than a month to go ; I’m wishing you well!

Today you made me laugh when I imagined the glance of all the guys in the gym when they understood you want to add some body fat!
If anyhow possible I can send you at least 15 kilo from my belly…

Question: I am not sure if it was said before but - how long does take to wear out skins on your skis until you have to put the new ones?

# Carol Flores, January 9th 2014

Ben & Tarka,
Do you ever sing songs in your mind to keep a pace?  If so what are they?  Take care and God bless.
Carol Flores

# Nansen, January 9th 2014

Enjoy the polar plateau while you are still on it and never forget how privileged you are to be in such a special place.  Moaning and grumbling, as hard as it is to prevent, should have no place in such an extraordinary and special place.

# Richard Pierce, January 9th 2014

Bit worried about Tarka. And, yes, I do know it’s very cold up there. Hope the chill dissipates as your altitude comes down (below 10k ft already). Good luck with getting to the next depot. Look out for each other.

God Speed.


# jamehand, January 9th 2014

Keep going guys, in the years to come you will realise just how epic this expedition has been. The adversity and how you deal with it is what will define your lives from this point on, not the achievement of the pole - grand as that was - so keep going and God Speed.

# CaninesCashews, January 9th 2014

Hi guys,
Another strong day - lets hope that wind chill eases off a bit so you have some spare layers.
Already inside 86 and below 9500ft, shouldn’t be too long until that next depot and the Beardmore rears its head.
Love the thoughts about the art gallery - sounds like my kind of place.
Stay safe.

# Sue (and Noodle ), January 9th 2014

Darling guys… Read your comments. really read them and you will realise how many are with you tramping all the way. Tarka, teach Ben french slang. Ben, teach Tarka… oh best not !!!!!

# Mal Owen, January 9th 2014

I’d make a gallery visit and happily give you some of my excess ! “Tarka was feeling chilled most of the time “..... Wasn’t that how you were before the resupply? Please take care and notice the signs. Beardmore looming makes home all the closer and you’re ticking off the miles at a good rate :-)

# wonderwoman, January 9th 2014

Days on the plateau seem all the same and all different. What you said yesterday, is the other way round now. Please try and take as good care of yourself and each other as possible. Stay safe and stay warm. We all stand behind you. We send you love, prayers and bodyfat from Finland!

# Hilary, January 9th 2014

Creeping ever closer to home. Not too long until you start descending the Beardmore, then hopefully it will be warmer and you’ll feel better. Keep going, you’re doing so well, we’re all here cheering for you. And I’ll send my body fat too if that helps! I could do with losing it.

# Dave, January 9th 2014

Ben & Tarka,
Thanks for taking us on this adventure with you. I appreciate the details like fixing the sled and descriptions of the snow.
We had some chilly weather here in Michigan this week that was similsr to what you are experiencing up on the plateau.  On Monday morning it was -27 C with a wind chill of -40 C.  In the short time it took to brush off the car my fingers were going numb. The thought of camping in this kind of cold seems impossible!  On a typical night how warm does it get inside your tent?
Stay safe.

# Intrepid, January 9th 2014

Went flying again, this time all the way up to 39,000 ft. where it’s -63C so just a tad bit colder than your camping trip. 

Good to hear that glue doesn’t freeze ... or does it need heating up first? Hoping the new fix lasts.  Seems you are preparing in all ways for heading back down the blue ice.

Be well. Keep on truckin!!

# mark w, January 9th 2014

Sledge repairs…... Reminds me of the “modifications” Mawson made to his sledge with a small penknife!
A bit of a way to go yet, but best wishes to you both.

# Kyle, January 9th 2014

Hey good luck guys, so fun to watch the whole journey. Isn’t technology great. I see the wind chills were -41C. I live in the southern tip of mainland Canada and our wind chills for the past 2 days were -38 to -40 C. Coldest its been here in 43 years.
Take care out there!

# Kat, January 9th 2014

Mmmm .... I’d like to get me a tube of that epoxy…two-part?  Epoxy does kick of a bit of heat when it goes off, but I’m amazed you can get it to work in those temperatures. I can see sponsorship coming on….

Tarka….can’t you wear your down coat when you’re chilled?

Some of us are quiet, but we’re still here following!  I wonder if the web master can see how many hits this blog has gotten?  How many followers or commenters?

All the bestest best.  As Ali G would say, “Respet”!

# Raven, January 9th 2014

Hello from Vermont USA! I just started following your amazing trek along with my daughter (age 5) who is very curious about your daily food routines! We would love to see pictures of your daily rations and snacks if you have a chance. Wishing you good cheer and full bellies.

# Leigh Phillips , January 9th 2014

Check out some of the videos on the website. There’s a lot of detail on the food there and plenty of other cool stuff too. My girls enjoyed watching them. :-)

# Marty Hazen, January 9th 2014

I’ve been following your incredible journey with great interest and respect gentlemen, and I now find myself waking early to check on progress.  Each morning hoping for more milage than the last.  Which brings me to a question.  Clearly you are looking forward to decending the Beardmore, and I understand the advantages of better conditions and more of that precious O2, but do you expect to take advantage of the slope?  In other words, will that downhill make a significant contribution to daily milage?  Will you be able to ski any of it, or is it a carefull, crampon only struggle?
Best of luck for the remainder gentlemen!  I am delighted and amazed at your daily progress.  And Ben, your posts have been outstanding throughout, I’m sure it’s a challenge to write after such long days.  Well done!

# *M.M*, January 9th 2014

Dear Ben and Tarka,
I have been learning about you in class 4.
We have been Inspired by braveness and how
you put up with all the bad weather Conditions
Thank you
By M.M


# sp, January 9th 2014

you inspire me and my class in PSHE we were learning about being anxious and what it meant and i am guessing you would have felt anxious before you started your expedition.  we all think you are very brave and we hope you have had an amazing trip and have a safe journey back.
from sp and class 4

# Anthea Henton , January 9th 2014

Heeee the adventures of lanky. And lolloper in the Antarctic… Good children’s book name.

Great going guys. Blogs that make me laugh and cry, whilst you are trekking through those conditions. You stunners. Xxxx

# Jarda C., January 9th 2014

Hold on guys and I wish you safe “downhill” on Beardmore!

# Austin Duryea, January 10th 2014

I have to agree with Jennifer. Is there anything we could do to help you and Tarka going. I’ve been following from the begging and it has never been so intense to me. Y’all are so close to home and I knew you would make it from the beggining.

# Judy - North Carolina, January 10th 2014

Huge prayers for warmth and strength.

# Annie, January 10th 2014

Hi, I think fat is less warming than muscle tissue if im not mistaken? Its normal to go very cold once you stop moving, but its worrying if Tarka feels cold while still moving, as you said though, he was not wearing his downjacket, so that might be the answer.

Safe return, @Lydia, haha! if I can transfer my fat to them too they would have no need for sleeping pad anymore…. Its good to be a little fat :)

Commenting is not available for this entry.