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.

Delayed Blog Post (Day 55)

Day 55: S87° 29' 7.32", E159° 34' 38.1"

Duration: 9 Hr

Daily distance: 18.1 Mi

Distance to go: 1078 Mi

Temperature: -24 °C

Wind chill: -34 °C

Wind speed: 8 MPH

Altitude: 9419 Ft

It's been a long day on the ice for Ben and Tarka - nine hours skiing. They've once again made cracking progress covering 18 miles (29km). After finishing late this evening they won't be blogging today but expect to be back online tomorrow.

In the meantime, learn a little more about Captain Scott and his Terra Nova expedition or take a moment to enjoy some of our videos.


# Richard Pierce, December 19th 2013

I know this sounds harsh, but good to see the boys putting in more than 8 hours. I am reckoning they’ll have to start putting in some 13-hour days soon to complete the whole trip in time (maybe mainly on the way back).

Until they blog again, here’s a video about my research into Scott’s journey for my Guardian First Book Award nominated novel about the search for his final resting place, Dead Men ( -

Keep going, boys.


# Alastair Humphreys, December 19th 2013

Don’t forget that an ‘8-hour day’ (i.e. 8 hours’ of hard exercise - think about that!) actually does require your ‘13-hour day’ in order to happen. Setting up / breaking camp, cooking, melting snow all takes a stupid amount of time.

# Alastair Humphreys, December 19th 2013

ps - I know you aren’t criticising them.

# Richard Pierce, December 19th 2013

I meant 13 hours skiing, because I’m a bastard. ;-) R

# John Matthews, December 19th 2013

don’t forget on the way back they will have the benefit of both being much much lighter and also they will spend a lot more time coming down hill. Thus the same amount of time they will cover much more distance.

# John Matthews, December 19th 2013

some extremely quick and dirty maths,

by day 22 they were doing 10 miles so prob did about 150 in the first 22 days, on the way back they will prob cover that distance in around 7 days thus 15 days quicker just over that period.

I think if they reach half way by day 65 they will have plenty of time for the journey back.

# Ian Ransom, December 19th 2013

It is very easy for those of us reading the blog from the comfort of a centrally heated house to lose sight of the scale of Ben and Tarka’s undertaking. To churn out over fifty days of constant slog under the conditions they have to endure is amazing. To only miss one blog in over fifty days is just incredible. Keeping enough energy in store at the end of a day’s march to pitch the tent, cook a meal ,write a blog and do all the other things that must be part of the daily routine and be able to get up the next day and do it all again demands a fortitude that few of us have. Pacing yourself in an extreme endurance event is paramount to success. To Ben and Tarka my best wishes. You are never far from my thoughts and today I will go back and savour some of the previous blogs. Ben and Tarka, thank you for allowing me to feel involved in your expedition through this blog. One thing I was wondering is did you keep the tin can you found on Beardmore?

# Richard Pierce, December 19th 2013

Absolutely right. My comment about the 13-hour days wasn’t a criticism, just a realistic view of what they’ll need to do in view of the conditions out there. If they complete the whole trip (which I desperately hope and believe they will), they deserve massive recognition. R

# Mal Owen, December 19th 2013

Anyone who has followed from day 1 knows you weren’t criticising :)

# Richard Pierce, December 19th 2013

Thanks, Mal. :-) R

# cifa, December 19th 2013

no worries guys. you deserve the rest. I am grateful & inspired that you take the time to post anyway.
just keep us posted otherwise I will be forced to post another crappy joke :)

cheers to you both!

# Mal Owen, December 19th 2013

Doesn’t seem long since you hit the 1500 mark and here we are nearly at the 1000 ... Your going at a great rate of knots .... I’m worn out after my 9 hours of present wrapping so, not to worry about a missed blog…it will be all the better for the waiting!

# Leigh Phillips , December 19th 2013

Phew! Glad to hear the boys are ok and doing well.

# George Chapman, December 19th 2013

Great going guys another good day at 18 miles. Looks like the winds have been light. I always look forward to seeing and reading about you adventures every day. It appears we will be at the pole in just a few more days. Hope your staying warm and enjoying yourself down there at the bottom of the World. I was wondering, if you walk too far South is there any possibility of you falling off the planet? lol Take care of yourself guys. Look forward to hearing more from you next time.

# dj, December 19th 2013

No chance of falling off… “there are turtles all the way down” - at least that’s what I heard Richard Feinman say that he was told one time when he asked the lady heckler in one of his lectures what was under the turtle that she claimed was holding up the earth. He revealed that she had called him “tricky” and retorted “It’s turtles all the way down.”

Those you you who are following along on the “un-official Google Earth resource file” [ ]  you’ll notice that I’ve added a folder called “south poles.” There are three: the geologic (where they’re heading), the magnetic and the geo-magnetic.  When Ben mentioned that he was “following his compass course to the South Pole” he didn’t mean that he was merely following where the South needle pointed - that’s almost due NORTH of where he’s pointing his sled. He’s going away from the “magnetic” south pole - and has been since he started.

Click on the box to the left of he “Poles” folder and you’ll see all the measurements for the various poles over the past hundred years or so - even the one that Scott made during his expedition (the brown arrows). They change over time as you see - translation for you Brits, it’s sort of like the “progression of the equinoxes” that your Kipling wrote about.

I think that, perhaps, between your Kipling and our Richard Feinman we’ve pretty much got it covered. Don’t you think?

# Rosie Vidovix Unsworth, December 19th 2013

I m glad you made good progress yesterday and if not having your blog to read this morning is my contribution to your epic journey, I dont mind!
Keep going and you’ll soon be there.

# Green, December 19th 2013

Great going! Great expedition!

# Kristoffer, December 19th 2013

Richard, my equation for determining average daily mileage to return on the 110 day schedule is {[(16.3636 x [days travelled]) - (1800 - [miles to go])]/[days left in 110 day schedule]} + 16.3636.  By that formula, Ben and Tarka have to make an average of 19.5999 miles per day.  Every day they fail to make this ratchets the required mileage up, every day they make this make this leaves the mileage unchanged, every day they exceed it ratchets the required mileage down.  Given the daily mileages they are achieving with sledges at 100 kg or less weight, I have a hard time imagining them doing better than this on the return journey, as their weight will not be going continuously down due to picking up depots, and I wouldn’t slide down the Beardmore at high speed lest I slide into a crevasse.

# John Matthews, December 19th 2013


Agree with your calcs, though I think they will baring any major weather disruptions make the 110 day target.

little things like improved routine/fitness/home fever plus sheer stubbornness to make the target will all add to their daily mileage.

# Richard Pierce, December 19th 2013


You know I’m not as rational as you (ie have made no calculations), but agree with you that weight isn’t an issue once it’s below 100kg. It’s the surface that counts. They may therefore be better off travelling at night (despite the 24-hour sun, temperatures do dip at “night” which can often improve the surface), especially on the home stretch.

It’s going to be really interesting to see how it pans out.


# Kristoffer, December 19th 2013

Richard, Sienicki and Scott would disagree with you.  Scott himself in his diary entry for 22 November 1911 said “The surface is much easier for the sledges when the sun is warm, and for about three hours before and after midnight the friction noticeably increases.” Sienicki would tell you that there are multiple factors involved with sledge friction besides temperature.  His calculation of the friction caused by snow temperature alone puts the ideal snow temperature at -3 to -5 C, with friction increasing above and below that.

# Richard Pierce, December 19th 2013

I stand corrected. R

# Richard Pierce, December 19th 2013

Having said that, come mid-Jan & start-Feb, they may see temperatures during the “day” that are above -5C, so they might consioder travelling at “night.“R

# CaninesCashews, December 19th 2013

Hi guys,
Great mileage - still pretty nippy I see :-)
Stay safe.

# Diane Griffith, December 19th 2013

Have been following you fellows since the beginning and find it completely amazing that this is your first time taking a slight break in reporting.  It’s a hard earned day off writing! 
For those of you out there who may be feeling bereft without Ben’s wise words, The Guardian is also in Antarctica at the moment following the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014, which hopes to build on the work of Douglas Mawson’s 1911-1913 Expedition.  Here are some links:
Great reporting about another ambitious Antarctic journey. 
Also, thanks for telling us about your book, Dead Men, Richard Pierce.  Received my copy yesterday and look forward to reading it over the winter break. 
Keep up the most impressive hard work, Ben & Tarka!

# Richard Pierce, December 19th 2013


Wow, I’m speechless. Thank you very much. I do hope you like it.

I am always on two minds about mentioning it for fear of people thinking I’m just plugging for the sake of plugging. But I do believe I have something unique to say that is related to this expedition and its history.

Thanks again.


# Diane Griffith, December 20th 2013

Agreed, Richard. I for one am quite happy you mentioned your novel as I’d never have known about it otherwise.

# Richard Pierce, December 20th 2013

:-) R

# Vimalatharmaiyah Gnanaruban, December 19th 2013

The topic of wind came up on this forum and someone put their money on a table made decades ago. I’m not saying that’s wrong or not relevant today, but I wouldn’t bet on that or even a personal experience at the pole. Here is a recent, I mean near real time, atmospheric weather system simulation.
You can move around, zoom in and out, and when you click at a point you get the wind velocity. Although it is a computational simulation,it updates with near real time data at discreet points. It may not capture the small regional vortices, however gives a big picture view.

# Kristoffer, December 19th 2013

Thanks Ruban!  Of course, as you yourself put it, it may not capture the small regional vortices.  Because of that, I’m still glad I have Simpson’s tables (I was the one who put my money on Simpson’s tables).

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