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.

El Pinguino and Barnaby Bear (Day 33)

Day 33: S82° 00' 14.04", E169° 05' 31.5"

Duration: 8 Hr 30 Min

Daily distance: 18.4 Mi

Distance to go: 1480.8 Mi

Temperature: -8 °C

Wind chill: -17 °C

Altitude: 177 Ft

As we hauled our way along today I was pondering over the two tiny mascots I'm dragging along with me, Barnaby Bear and El Pinguino, or Mr. Penguin; I've not named him yet.

Barnaby was given to me many moons ago by (I think!) a class at Penair School in Cornwall. He's been on three North Pole attempts from Canada, four Greenland expeditions and a long way up K2 with the brilliant Jake Meyer, so he's a hardened veteran. You'll note he also has a guardian angel pinned to his scarf*. 

Mr. Penguin was a gift from my mum before this expedition. His wings are spring loaded, so he clings to the washing line that hangs in the roof of our tent every night.

Neither of them are really pulling their weight. They offer no calorific value. They can't do anything about wildly proliferating bacteria in my gut. They can't navigate, they can't melt snow, they can't recharge the Ultrabook or the satellite phone. As far as I can tell, they're both deaf, blind and mute. The reason they're here of course, is to lift my spirits. I think of my mum every time I lie back in my sleeping bag and see the penguin latched on to the roof (often swaying and wobbling wildly in high winds).

The human spirit; the will to continue striving and believing often against the odds (or perhaps always against the odds: as Pema Chodron cheerily put it, "Life is like getting into a boat that's just about to sail out to sea and sink") is a difficult thing to calibrate and measure, unlike watts or joules or nautical miles, but more than anything it's what fuels us out here.

Today was an absolute belter. The headwind we've had for days now finally fizzled out to the faintest breeze in our second hour, leaving us with near-perfect conditions. As a result, we cranked out a 18.4 mile (29.7km) day today, a new record by quite a stretch and something we're both pleased with, particularly as we're still pulling 140kg or so each, which I'd say is approximately 1.2 sumo wrestlers per sled.

*Speaking of angels, Tarka and I are both into logic and reason, and I'm afraid to report there's not been much banter of a spiritual nature in the tent. I said a couple of weeks ago that I thought our 62GB SD cards worked like magic as I simply couldn't get my head around how I could fit almost all of my music collection on one of them, and then wipe it clean and use to to store photographs or HD video from our camera. Tarka gave me his Spock look and explained that there's no magic involved at all, just electrical currents and crystalline structures.

P.S. feel free to suggest a name for Mr/Mrs/Miss Penguin and we'll pick a favourite this time next week.


# andrew, November 27th 2013

That’s two rabbits out of the hat in as many days, not to mention a bear and a penguin. Well done you two, its getting exciting.

# mike, November 29th 2013

How about “Mr. Shuffles?” Or just Shuffles to be slightly less cute.

# Sabrina, December 1st 2013

Maybe you should call him Scott, as in the Scott Expedition

# Judy Wright, December 3rd 2013

You should just call the penguin “Blue”. After all, he’s a little chap and the Blue Penguin is the smallest species in the world.
Judy x

# joel, December 4th 2013

Penguin name - how about “birdy” after Birdy Bowers of the Scott expedition?

# Perran, November 27th 2013

Another great blog with some deeper insights which I really like.

May I suggest Garrard for the Penquin ?

# Will gow, November 29th 2013

Great work lads - you’re flying now and will be onto phase 2, the beard more before you know it. Enjoy the grandeur of the mountains - fond memories of Cloudmaker

# Hilary, November 27th 2013

Fantastic distance again today. Love the mascots. How about Pemmican the Penguin in honour of the rations that Scott took to the Antarctic on his polar journey?

# Steve Banks, December 4th 2013

Well done. Push On chaps.
Push On Penguin.

# Chris, November 27th 2013

Ponting the penguin?  Not that he takes photos of course, but it’s a nod to the great photographer himself.

# Andrea, November 27th 2013

Always delighted by your writing (and your progress!) day after day. I would call your penguin buddy “Mr. Breeze”. Short and sweet. :)
Keep on, guys, you’re doing a great job and we all root for you.

# Matt , November 27th 2013

May I suggest Wanda ....

# Štěpán Hnyk, November 27th 2013

A very impressive distance you’ve covered today! Thanks for the videos and the picture. Now I see why the toothbrush handle had to stay at home as the precious grams were already taken by these two motivational aids that are by no means a toy. I cannot wait to see Tarka’s life-sized teddy polar bear. PS: I suggest “Benguin” - a name any animal can be proud of (let alone a flightless bird) .

# robert arus, November 27th 2013

I’ll go for Springy.

# Richard Pierce, November 27th 2013

Way to go!! S82 reached already. Well done.

As for the penguin, call it Birdie or Cherry. They’re the most appropriate names I can think of.

Ah yes, the human spirit. Is that what makes us less animal?

As for the spiritual - you’ll both come to find it in the days to come and in your memories of the Terra Nova Hut.

God Speed.


# Simas, November 27th 2013

It is interesting to read these philosophical thoughts about about life and this journey. I guess I would like to ask something then.

Q - Did you guys noticed yourself how your thoughts are chancing through the expedition?

# Jo, November 27th 2013

Scott had at least one pony with a funny name with him: Hackenschmidt. How about that?

As strange as it is to read your blog-posts from the middle of nowhere I won´t miss a single one. You´re doing a great job not only hauling your sleds but also writing your posts. Inspiring, exciting and also often funny. Keep on!

# ROB SWAN , November 27th 2013

Game ON Tarka and Ben . 1st Ice Circle Closing . GREAT work . Buckley Island calling . Rob Swan

# Mickey, November 27th 2013

Call your penguin THE THING, just so he can really be a part of Antarctic adventure. :mad:

# rod pattinson, November 27th 2013

you are making good progress please call him biscuit

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