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.

Deja Vu (Day 104)

Day 104: S77° 52' 32.34", E167° 24' 47.88"

Duration: 10 Hr

Daily distance: 25.1 Mi

Distance to go: 11.1 Mi

Temperature: -9 °C

Wind chill: -22 °C

Altitude: 197 Ft

As I type this, we're camped about 15km from our Ross Island finish line, which is less than four hours' skiing away. We'll have a massive lie-in tomorrow before setting off in the afternoon, principally as the bases here run on New Zealand time, which is 11 hours ahead of us, so if anyone's going to be there to wave us over the line and take a photo for our holiday snaps, we need to fit in with their time zone.

Antarctica, true to form, didn't make life easy or comfortable for us today, and the weather seemed to be messing* with us in a spookily adversarial fashion; luring us - wearing far too little - out of the tent with bright sunshine and a still warmth first thing, before pelting us with a blizzard barely ninety minutes later. The wind intensified just as we stopped to eat and drink at our first break, and as we sat on our sledges with our down jackets on and our backs to the gale, whirling eddies and vortices of sandy spindrift were spun up into our faces, filling our pockets and sledges and anything else left unzipped for more than a few seconds with fine, gritty snow. It calmed down before we started skiing, then revved up again at the next break, in a pattern that dogged us for most of the day.

As I mentioned yesterday, our sheer exhaustion seems to be overriding any chance of outright back-slapping glee at being so close to pulling this vast journey off (our GPS says we've clocked a cumulative 2,859km now, which is 68 back-to-back marathons dragging sledges) but team morale is definitely much improved, and the prospect of skiing a mere 15km after a big lie-in seems infinitely more manageable than another mammoth day. Interestingly, despite never having seen the view we faced today, skiing past White Island towards the giant flanks of Mount Erebus until we picked up our final (hundred-day-old!) depot, before hanging a left and heading past Castle Rock towards McMurdo Sound, the scenery felt strangely familiar after so many years of dreaming of reaching this point.

We'll start skiing tomorrow in the late afternoon UK time so don't be alarmed if the tracker doesn't budge for a while after our usual kick-off. We should finish in the evening, but it may take us a while to get online again and send a blog post back, so watch this space. I'm sure Andy, Chessie and the team in London will update the site as soon as we phone in from Ross Island, so you'll be the first to know when we're home and dry.

At the moment, the magnitude of it all hasn't really sunk in yet, though I'm excited about getting more than five hours sleep for the first time in weeks, and I suspect lying here tomorrow morning the excitement - and if I'm honest, the sheer relief - may start to finally kick in...

*This may not be the precise word Tarka used as we were shouting at each other in the blizzard, but it was hard to hear him over the wind.


# Richard McGehee, February 6th 2014

Your successful completion of this seemingly impossible dream gives us all inspiration that with perseverance we can complete our own impossible dreams. Thank you.

Happy trails to you from Kentucky.

# Richard Mills , February 6th 2014

Totally awesome! Take care on the last 15 Km. Ben, I will ‘venture out of the house’ today and go to The Polar Museum (Scott Polar Research Institute) in Cambridge to look at what went before.  The sheer determination of both of you is inspiring.
Safe home guys. 


# Astrid Piepschyk, February 6th 2014

Congratulations Ben and Tarka on an extraordinary journey. It has been a true physical and mental test of character for you both and you have both proven yourselves true. I wish you best on your final 15km and applause your achievement on this expedition. Bravo boys, bravo!

# Ariane, February 6th 2014

We are so heartened—overwhelmed?—gladdened?—rendered ecstatic! by the news of your imminent victory. We are moved to tears by your fortitude and the poetry that accompanied this epic journey. We are jumping up and down in glee and don’t give a rat’s bottom who sees us.

-the Royal We

# Rich/Ione, February 6th 2014

So are we (albeit of somewhat lower status)

# Nic Clarke, February 6th 2014

Going to really miss reading the daily blog and following your journey. It has been brilliant to be able to share your day to day emotions and the constant battles you have overcome.
Having shared a tent with Tarka before in the mountains I am sure there has been great amusement (maybe in the face of adversity)as you have tackled the evening chores.
Good luck for the last few miles and I hope the achievement can gradually sink in.

# Dave, February 6th 2014

So glad that tomorrow’s ski lines up to be more conducive to a well-deserved celebration than an extra-long slog would have been.  What more can I say is that you guys are awesome?  Kudos to your support team as well.  Their hearts will be crossing the finish line (there will be some kind of line, won’t there?) with you.

Continued safety and progress.

# Jon G, February 6th 2014

Today is all about Ben and Tarka,and their awesomeness.

But it doesn’t detract from their achievement to give a quick shout out to their team. Andy, for one, will have been living this 24/7 with them, as will their families (I doubt they’ve had restful sleep in the last three months either, nor can I imagine how I’d feel seeing one of my children or siblings off on a trip like this). So respect too for everyone behind the scenes, over the last 100 days and the last ten years.

# Sylvie Griffon, February 6th 2014

Awsome! I hope that Scott, Wilson, Oates, Bowers and Evans, from where they are now, are proud of you. It’s a great lesson to those who believe that there is nothing to do, and discover, and dream about in this world.

“To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield…” that’s the ultimate truth.

Congratulations, and take care for the last miles.


# Emma Kelly, February 6th 2014

I am overwhelmed with joy at learning, just now, that you have finally realised your dream of this epic expedition. I shall be following your journey with great interest. I wish you strength and fortitude. You are both amazing and an inspiration. The World needs people like you to make it a richer place.

# Rebecca, February 6th 2014

B&T - Others here have already written such beautiful sentiments here, and I echo them, and send our biggest, loudest MAZEL TOV! We’ve been watching for 10 years, since we first “bought” mile 1787 (you crossed it!), and are so thrilled that you have finally achieved your dream. I’ll miss reading about your exploits here every morning, and following your dot on the map, but am so utterly happy that you’ve done what you’ve set out to do. Wouldn’t Scott be slapping you on the back today…. Congratulations to you both, and to your entire team, for making your dream come true!

# uncle pete, February 6th 2014

That’ll do pig, that’ll do!

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