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.

Day Ninety-Four (Day 94)

Day 94: S81° 15' 35.53", E168° 55' 27.48"

Duration: 9 Hr 30 Min

Daily distance: 23.9 Mi

Distance to go: 271.2 Mi

Temperature: -6 °C

Wind chill: -10 °C

Altitude: 161 Ft

A brief update from the little green tent in the big white cold place as we're running late today after stopping to dig up a depot, and it's my turn to be in charge of the stove tonight, so I'm juggling the roaring burner, the Ultrabook, the satellite phone, hot drinks, freeze-dried meal bags and vacuum flasks that need filling (we fill 'em with lukewarm water at night so we can reheat them in the morning, which is easier and more time-efficient than melting snow from scratch).

It's also brief as there's not a great deal I can tell you about today, It was near-zero visibility and contrast again for nearly nine hours, then the sun popped out with perfect comedy timing as we started to ski into the evening after finding the depot, and we're now lying here sweltering in a sun-baked tent that feels like we've pitched it on a Balearic beach. After getting to know Antarctica so intimately over more than three months now, it doesn't surprise me one bit that she's testing us until the very end.

We have ten days to go now, and the thought of finishing feels quite surreal. I'll write more tomorrow when I'm not cooking, but in an effort to redeem this post, you'll see I finally coerced Tarka into taking a selfie too (along with Mr Penguin, who suspiciously hasn't lost any weight on this expedition...)


# Hilary, January 27th 2014

Great going guys! Just a quick question, why are you weaving about rather than taking a direct line home?

# Tim, January 27th 2014

Good Morning Hilary,

Do this experiment one day.  Go to a large field like a football field.  Stand at one goal and look at the other goal and study its location.  Blindfold yourself and have a friend follow you so that you don’t fall into the bleachers on the side of the field at about half way down the field.  You will NOT make it to the other end of the field.  You will see why they zig-zag.  I think that they are doing really well considering.  Staring at a compass or GPS really helps but does not fully straiten your path out.

Way to go guys.  We are all watching you from Virginia, USA.

# Hilary, January 27th 2014

Thank you for your comments Tim, but if you look at the route out, it’s in pretty much a straight line from the coast to the Beardmore. The return route weaves along from left to right and back again. If they managed to walk in a straight line on the way to the Beardmore, then why not back.

# Richard Pierce, January 27th 2014

Dear Hilary,

The weather on this part of the Ice Shelf was much better when they were walking out. They had near-zero visibility yesterday, hence the blindfold analogy. Even steering my GPS will not compensate for travelling in what, to all intents, is a void where it feels like there’s no upor down, left or right.


# Mandy, January 27th 2014

Hi guys. I have been following your progress for a while now. I’ve also been following the Transatlantic rowers and am just blown away by the sheer madness of what all of you are doing, but in awe too as I know that it is not something I will ever do or have the courage to commit to. Well done. Keep going. Beards are looking good. You may start a trend!

# Richard Pierce, January 27th 2014

So it’s the penguin that’s been nicking the supplies then!

Amazed at your endurance.

I reckon Tarka’s beard takes it by a short hair (he’s got a lot on his head, too).

It’s Monday, which calls for some levity.

I hope visibility improves today so that you can stop weaving about, because I’m sure that’s the reason for thre weave.

Take care and God Speed.


# Intrepid, January 27th 2014

Agreed… Tarka’s beard looks longer. Ben’s beard looked thicker, so there was more to grow. But then, Tarka made up for the growing at the top of his head. Kind of cool that both beards have the same coloring, as though they are true brothers.

# kat, January 28th 2014

Gentlemen, those beards are PRODIGIOUS! They are RIGHTEOUS! They are GINGERY!! 

No wonder you’re so tired.  The effort to grow those bushy, luxurious, intense (in tents) beards is what must be knackering you so.  Also: have you calculated in the efforts it takes to transport them around? 

I *hope* you will consider weighing them when you get back to civilization, to see how much that extra weight they might have slowed you down.  I know you were snipping labels off of your underwear in preparation for the journey, to lighten the load. 

Maybe you should have gotten a razor company to sponsor you? Next time?

Carry on!  ;-)

# dj, January 27th 2014

We figured that you must be doing something like walking around in a fog (or daze) today - our newly developed habit of “dot watching” had us watching you wander around like drunken sailors (when the Pilot sent its hourly GPS trackpoint).  It’s been acting up today again and missed transmissions. You’re not the only ones who’ll be glad to see your board that plane!

# Intrepid, January 27th 2014

About that plane… one of the comments yesterday made me wonder where you guys are heading. Does our google map actually display the edges of the continent, because evidently some of the ice is no longer there.

# Richard Pierce, January 27th 2014


That’s what I’m worried about. It’s summer over there now, so the sea ice won’t be in very good condition (or not there at all). Crossing over Ross Island on land is very dangerous indeed, as it’s highly crevassed. So I am wondering how they’ll get to the hut at Cape Evans, because they do need to get there under their own steam (ie not by boat or by chopper) to complete the journey.


# Phil Satoor, January 27th 2014

Surely the finishing post for this journey is the old Discover Hut near the south end of Ross Island?  If Scott had got back OK, he would have had to wait there until April for the ice to freeze before returning to Cape Evans.

# Richard Pierce, January 27th 2014


Good point, and one I should have thought of. I wonder if anyone from the team can clarify.


# Intrepid, January 27th 2014

Nate B @ Day 93 wrote, “A few of us here in McMurdo are wondering a couple of things. Firstly, where will the end of your journey be? Currently there is no ice route to the Hut at Cape Evans, as the ice has gone out. And Secondly where will you be flying out from? Also due to the ice not being around anymore, the ice runway you landed on has gone off to sea…Will you be flying from Pegasus Airfield courtesy of the US Antarctic Program/ KBA or is there another way to get back to Union Glacier? Many of us are watching your blog with great interest down here! Great work so far!”

# Andy, January 27th 2014

Thank you all the comments and questions, particularly about the finish line as Ben and Tarka edge closer to finishing this incredible journey.

Ben and Tarka’s objective is to complete the route of Captain Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition from Ross Island to the South Pole and back by making a return journey starting from the coast of Antarctica. The three historic expeditions led by Scott and Shackleton built three huts at different points on Ross Island and today the island is home to McMurdo, the main base of the United States Antarctic Program and to Scott Base of the New Zealand Antarctic Program. McMurdo has three different runways that are used at different times in the Austral summer season and the whole area encompassing the runways is usually referred to as McMurdo.

During the course of the expedition Ben and Tarka expected that the sea ice in McMurdo Sound would have deteriorated and that it may be impossible for them to get from Hut Point back to Cape Evans further around the coast at the end of the expedition. Therefore, careful thought was put into having a start point that Ben and Tarka would be able to return to. The historic expeditions used the most southerly hut – the Discovery Expedition hut at Hut Point as a staging post for their journeys, and so either returning to any accessible point of land on Ross Island or to the edge of the Ross ice shelf if the land is inaccessible due to open water – where it meets the sea ice of McMurdo Sound near McMurdo are legitimate starting and end points. Part of the concept of this modern expedition that is transported by aircraft to its starting point is that it is looking back to the historic ship-borne expeditions and therefore, having a start point that is theoretically accessible by ship seemed the right thing to do, in the spirit of the journey that Captain Scott embarked on in 1911.

We planned for the eventuality that the sea ice would have gone out and the official start and end point for Ben and Tarka was the edge of the McMurdo ice shelf and not Cape Evans. Getting back to Ross Island or the edge of the McMurdo iceshelf will complete the return journey. It is obviously a shame that Ben and Tarka will not be able to return to Cape Evans but Scott would have faced similar challenges.

@Nate B - Our expedition’s air support and emergency cover is provided by Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE). ALE’s Basler aircraft is currently on sub-contract to the Italian National Antarctic Program and the pick-up plan for Ben and Tarka is that at the end of the Italian contract the Basler will fly to McMurdo and pick up the expedition from whichever runway is then in use. It’s wonderful to have people following the journey from McMurdo and thank you for your support.

# Richard Pierce, January 27th 2014


Thanks ever so much for clarifying that so quickly. Will the boys get to go back to the hut after they’ve finished just to complete Scott’s return home for memory’s sake?

Wishing them much luck over the remaining and not inconsiderable dustance and obstacles.


# Intrepid, January 27th 2014

Thanks for answering that big question mark, Andy.  Your reply keeps options within the realm of possibility, within the bounds of what is safe, and allows Ben and Tarka’s finish to The End be able to truly complete the spirit of the Scott Expedition.  To wherever the finish is .... indeed!!!

# Andy, January 27th 2014

@Richard Sadly I very much doubt it as they have no way of getting there across the open water but I know they would absolutely love to if they had the opportunity.

# Richard Pierce, January 27th 2014

Maybe the sponsors will stretch to a chopper. It would be a fitting end to the quest. R

# Andy, January 27th 2014

@Richard I’m afraid it’s not as easy as throwing money at it. There are no private helicopters or boats down there and under the guidelines of the Antarctic Treaty the scientists at both McMurdo bases are unable to offer assistance to private expeditions or NGOs.

# Richard Pierce, January 27th 2014

I should have known that :-(


# Andrea, January 28th 2014

Maybe, a tourism boat from several companies witch are now there and do anyway a visit to the Scott’s Hut, will be glad to embark the expedition to have it as company for that Hut visit.

# Intrepid, January 27th 2014

TARKA! Wow, where have all the 94 days ups and downs gone? You’ve turned exhaustion into an Antarctically good selfie!

One big request: before 10 days blinks on by, please write in and let us know what you’ve been chewing on for the last 1000 or so miles. Everyone looks forward to hearing from you!



# Intrepid, January 27th 2014

You know what? Tarka’s self has the feeling of being connected to a lifeline.
With this revelation, I saw Tarka’s arms wedged in the crevasse, I saw his capacity for going on and on and on, completely giving every ounce of himself, to what happened to the tips of his thumbs, and slogging through the whiteouts of physical and mental fatigue. I don’t know who the lifeline is (other than Mr. Penguin), but to all that is this lifeline, deep bows and heartfelt gratitude. You are all amazing!!!

# Rich/Ione, January 27th 2014

Tarka looks good. Who’s the big guy with the beard? Keep going (as we’re sure you will) but take it slow and steady now the end is in sight. Think you said the next depot brings some extra rations?

# Janet Stanley, January 27th 2014

Great going again guys & good to see a pic of Tarka, hope the day goes well for you both , not long now , stay safe !

# kev, January 27th 2014

Phew ! Glad to see Mr Penquin is well for at one stage back there I was expecting to read in a blog that Penquin tasted like chicken. :-)

Take care fellas.

# CaninesCashews, January 27th 2014

Hi guys,

A Tarka selfie – we must really be getting near the end now 

Boy oh boy by the end of today you will probably be under 250 left, what an incentive (as if you needed one) to get it done.

I wonder if recently you have dared to let yourself think about that little hut, stood stoically on the Cape, waiting for over a century for the triumphant return of men who started their journey full of hope, expectation and fear.
You are those men now, in ten days it will be your journey to complete, your dreams to fulfil and your moment of history.

Godspeed for the home stretch.

Stay safe,

# JonT, January 27th 2014

Ah Ha!!  Mr Penguin was stowed away I see. ;)

Good to see you guys are getting close. :)
Best wishes and God speed!

# Amir AZEMI, January 27th 2014

Hi Ben and Tarka, i am following you since day 50 i think! And i didn’t miss a single day since,what you are doing is really great! So great that it had quite impact on me. For example i had a meeting today, and it was -7℃ but sharp one, and very dry! I could take my car but i decided to walk! Just to feel a glimpse of what you are feeling there! I tried to imagine but i think it was equal to imagine how big the universe it actually is, which is impossible.

Anyway, i have a question and i really hope you can answer me?! What will happen to the blogging after you are done, i would really want to follow at least a dozen other days how are you gonna cooperate the following days! Or how are you feeling after nearly four months without civilisation? And many more stuff! I really Hope you will continue to share for a little while!

Best of luck buddies.

# Nansen, January 27th 2014

With 10 days to go, you really need to forget the thought of finishing and what you will do once finished.  That will come soon enough. You need to stay in the present moment and carry this dream right through to the very end.

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