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.

Ascent (Day 46)

Day 46: S85° 11' 36", E161° 35' 16.8"

Duration: 8 Hr 30 Min

Daily distance: 17.4 Mi

Distance to go: 1239.6 Mi

Temperature: -15 °C

Wind chill: -30 °C

Altitude: 7539 Ft

You'll have to excuse a rather brief update today I'm afraid as it's nearly 10pm here in the tent, we're both exhausted, we've only just eaten our dinner and the alarm is set for 6am again tomorrow. Today turned out to be way tougher than we expected. We're off the Beardmore now, but the final ascent (we're now camped at 7,539ft above sea level) was via a series of snow-covered slopes, often steeply ramped, and a succession of false summits.

We clocked 17.4 miles (28km) which we're happy enough with, but the distance was hard-won today, we worked extremely hard and we're both feeling pretty tired.

The reason we're running late this evening is that we're leaving a big depot tomorrow morning before we head off, so we've been sorting through gear to leave here (our crampons, rope and all of our crevasse rescue gear) as well as calculating how much food and fuel to leave here, and how much to take with us. For the expedition/camping enthusiasts, you might be interested to learn that we've used far less fuel than I'd expected. Our allowance is 500ml per day (250ml per person) but we've averaged about 350ml per day so far.

I think some of this efficiency must be down to the cooking pot we're using (a Primus ETA with a modified MSR heat exchanger around it) though I'm also aware we'll use more at this altitude, and in the lower temperatures we're expecting on the plateau, so we're still taking 500ml per day to get from here to the Pole and back, as well as an emergency 2.5 litres in reserve.

Apologies for the lack of deep thought or half-remembered bits of poetry. I think all the blood went to my legs today.

Also, a huge happy birthday to my expedition manager and stalwart right-hand-man through thick and thin, Andy Ward. 


# Kevin Wright, December 10th 2013

Just checked Sky New and they are reporting -94.7 about 12 hours ago! The good news is its east of you! Take care Kev

# Jay, December 10th 2013

Antarctica Set Record of -135.8 F. This is test of endurance. Stay safe and little extra warm.
Would like to hear from you. Some more pictures on the record cold temperatures.

# Kevin Wright, December 10th 2013

That’s -93.2222222 C. Bloody cold!

# Andrea, December 10th 2013

Not the usual, almost linear track today, looking at Google Earth. Seems you were heading SW for a few miles, then turned straight South at a precise point, maybe to avoid something?

# John Brain, December 10th 2013

Ben and Tarka will have the answer for you, BUT like previous expeditions, they are likely to have continued SW to avoid the Shackleton ice falls and associated chaotic ice. Once clear, they have turned S. If you read ’ Heart of the Antarctic’, by Ernest Shackleton, you will discover the problems he had by not avoiding this area.

# Andrea, December 10th 2013

Thanls for your clear explanation, John. That makes sense. Very interesting. And I will surely read Shackleton’s book asap.

# OffroadingHome, December 10th 2013

@Andrea   Simple explanation - download the “Un-official Scott Expedition Google Earth Resource File” from this page:  and fire up Google Earth on your computer.  Click the box next to the “MODIS Ice Overlay” and wait for it to download the high-def image of the ice sheet.  You’ll actually see the deep “shadow” (crevasse?) that they gingerly navigated around during the “jog” you mentioned!

Their next 30 miles will be over some massively crinkled ice awaiting to be forced down the Beardmore pass from the plateau.  You’ll see that there are ridge tops which they can travel on and avoid the trenches; but, they wind around a bit.  Watching tomorrow we’ll be able to see if they make it through the “easy way” or go up and down some trenches.  I’ve watched the two navigate on the Ross Ice Sheet for a couple months now and they seem to have a habit of taking paths (when there is a choice) to the right and avoiding the left path.  Tomorrow, from the satellite image, the “easy way” on the ridge tops goes to the left. It’ll be interesting to watch if they can see it from the ground or if Andy contacts them about it. Keep your fingers crossed.

Once they get past about 30 miles, the ice evens out quite a bit (from satellite image) clear to the pole - now only just over 4 degrees away!

# dj, December 10th 2013

@John… I think that Ben and Tarka had already passed the Ice Falls you mentioned (at least according to the Quad Map) by the time they took the jog that Andrea is referencing (see note above). The Shackleton Ice Falls were clearly marked on the old map that I found from the USGS and were marked almost across the whole Beardmore mouth and leading immediately south from there.  B&T meticulously avoided that area by keeping within spitting distance of Buckley Island. [The Ice Falls are also marked on the file referenced above - hover over the waypoint marker and they will be highlighted]

The jog they seemed to take today isn’t explained by looking at the native Google Earth map. However the NASA MODIS Ice Sheet Overlay (referenced above) shows clearly the nearly 30 miles of jumbled ice you referenced - I supposed it’s under pressure being forced to migrate down the Beardmore. There doesn’t seem to be a way to avoid this terrain, only pick their way through it. “It’s gonna’ be a bumpy ride” for the next 30 miles or so.

# Intrepid, December 10th 2013

Watched some Scott Expedition videos to help my senses experience beyond words what it’s like to be doing what you guys are doing. Have the impression that movement and split second decisions are tangential to breathing and thought. Everything is right there that you need to know.

Wishing you great strides as well as some abrasion free moments.

# Austin Duryea, December 11th 2013

Good job and keep up the good work.

# Anton Uhl, December 11th 2013

Happy birthday, Andy!
None of this would be happening as well as it does without you!

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