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.

Approaching the Gateway (Day 38)

Day 38: S83° 22' 45.012", E170° 45' 42.480"

Duration: 8 Hr 30 Min

Daily distance: 19.4 Mi

Distance to go: 1384.6 Mi

Temperature: -7 °C

Wind chill: -14 °C

Altitude: 112 Ft

Today was harder than I'd expected it to be. The weather was fine and the surface wasn't too bad, but as we approach the Gateway, there's evidence of some extraordinary forces at work on the ice itself. There are so many vast glaciers coming down from the Transantarctic Mountains - the Beardmore is I think the largest, though I'm not sure - that the surface of the Ross Ice Shelf started to become noticeably undulating yesterday, warping and buckling under the sort of pressure that my brain can't come close to imagining. Ranging from modest hummocks (that reminded me of the miniature Dales and humpbacked bridges of the title sequence of Postman Pat) to rounded peaks and troughs like a deep-frozen mid-Pacific swell, the low points so deep that we'd lose sight of the surrounding peaks. A couple of the deepest had old, mostly filled-in crevasses at their bottoms, though we crossed their thick, ancient-looking snow bridges safely enough. 

It occurred to me today that the last living thing Tarka and I saw (other than each other) was a fat seal lying on the ice near Scott Base, more than a month ago. Since then, no animals, no plants, no birds and no insects. We could be on an alien, lifeless planet. It's a strange thing to feel that lack of life, yet also to be aware of so much energy at work around us; the movement imperceptible yet the forces involved so immense that they are reshaping the surface of the planet.

Another almost 20 mile (31km) day today and we're camped just under 9 miles (roughly 14km) from the Gateway, so we'll be on the Beardmore Glacier tomorrow. It's a small band of rather hard men that have passed this way before us, and part of me (probably the seven-year-old part I mentioned yesterday) feels almost like an imposter and can't quite believe that I'm here and taking these steps.

P.S. here's a photo for Mia of the hole I dig in the porch of the tent each night that lets us sit down.


# Jen, December 2nd 2013

A very descriptive post. Great to read what you’re seeing and feeling.

# Jayden Tan, December 2nd 2013


  It’s great to see the gateway grows larger and larger in the photo updated each day. Is that you or Tarka seen in the photo? Looking forward for the next good news from the two of you.

  Best wishes from Penang, Malaysia.

# Ben Kaufman, December 2nd 2013


Quick question: Curious if you are targeting a polar arrival on Jan 17th to coincide with the 102nd anniversary of the arrival if the Terra Nova expedition…and if so, given your progress to date, are you ahead/behind schedule?

# Andrea, December 2nd 2013

Great work, great progress, great expectations, great respect for explorers of the past. Everything is great in your words. Great sensibility (taking the picture for Mia) ... you have our best wishes, Ben and Tarka.
Through the Gateway and to the South Pole!

# Richard Pierce, December 2nd 2013

Must be amazing to see one of your preliminary goals come so much closer from one day to the next, regardless of the pressure ridges problem. Good luck through the Gateway and on old Beardsmore. R

# Chris, December 2nd 2013

The Beardmore already, amazing work.  Looking forward to photos of the pressure, crevasses, mountains and icefalls if you can take some whilst navigating up there!

# Rosie Vidovix Unsworth, December 2nd 2013

A few months ago when I walked past Captain Scotts permanent exhibition at the Wales Coast Path near Cardiff, I realised how defeated he must have been feeling when he failed to achieve his goal. What he didnt realise though was that he would become so inspirational to so many people around the world.
I am sure if Scott was alive today and could pick a bunch of people to join his team, you would be in it.

# Lorenzo, December 2nd 2013

Great work in getting so far! I hope that you are successful in this try.

# Paul, December 2nd 2013

There is the rounded shape of Mount Hope.  105 yrs almost to the day after discovered and photographed by Shackleton’s party

Dallas, TX

# Jo, December 2nd 2013

I guess the hard guys before you neither felt much like hard guys themselves until they had made it up the Glacier alive (and down respectively). Good luck for your first steps onto it, and the many that will follow.

# Uncle Pete, December 2nd 2013

‘We could be on an alien, lifeless planet’ - by strange coincidence your position track is also projected onto ‘Google Earth’ Mars, a shadowy expedition in another parallel dimension. Whilst this may well be a software glitch, it is a bonus to be making your mark on another planet! Seriously, an amazing achievement to be part of the very few to step on the Beardmore Glacier, and in such good recent stages. Now you will need precision and good judgement for this stage. Best Wishes.

# Michelle, December 2nd 2013

Go on!! Keep believing. Enjoy the rest. Xx

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