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.

Finally Flatter (Day 49)

Day 49: S85° 58' 8.04", E159° 42' 24.06"

Duration: 8 Hr 30 Min

Daily distance: 19.1 Mi

Distance to go: 1182.9 Mi

Temperature: -24 °C

Wind chill: -36 °C

Altitude: 8700 Ft

Well, we're definitely on the plateau now. We had an uphill start to the day but after slogging up a challenging slope for an hour or so first thing this morning, the terrain started to flatten out beautifully and it's stayed kind to us all day. It's certainly not pan-flat, however, and we've come up in altitude again today, camping at 2,652m (8,700ft) this evening. The good news is that the slopes are far more gradual now, and the surface is way better. The weather's been pretty good. It's certainly colder up here and there's been a lot more cloud today, but the sun has stayed out and we've had good contrast for navigation almost all day. We've lost sight of the mountains behind us now, and the horizon is flat white for 360 degrees. There's nothing in the way of scenery, the wind is pretty Baltic and it's no surprise that the place isn't swarming with holidaymakers.

Physically I felt a little more on form, though Tarka had an off day and admitted to me this morning that he was "Feeling flipping tired today" (or something very close to that). We've been pushing really hard for the entire trip, and I'm secretly quite relieved to see a sign that Tarka is human and suffering like I am, after all. He's been so strong and stoic that I was half-suspecting he might be an android, like Bishop in Ridley Scott's Aliens, and that he might prick himself one day, sewing up a hole in his glove, and ooze some kind of cyborg fluid instead of blood... It's chicken dhansak for dinner again tonight, and I've got about five minutes before it's rehydrated and ready, so I'll do two questions:

Q) Keith - "Ben, I now need as much info regarding your I pod please :) I met you briefly at secret Garden Party a couple of years ago + been fascinated ever since about your activities (and that of Scotts, which I hadn't really learnt much about until then). What are you listening to and have you exhausted your mp3's yet ? Good luck to both of you on your journey and stay safe. xx"

Thanks Keith. I have a pretty odd taste in music, but I'll divulge a little. I actually have about half of my entire music collection on the Ultrabook that I'm typing this on now, so I can create new playlists and refill the little iPod Shuffles if/when I get fed up with certain songs. For hard skiing/sled-hauling, I've found drum and bass works well, and I have a lot from Hospital Records -Logistics, High Contrast, Netsky, Danny Byrd, Unquote, et al- as well as older stuff like LTJ Bukem's first Logical Progression album. There's a bit of progressive house too (old Perspectives mixes), some hip-hop (in English and French), and a load of really random stuff ranging from folk (Alessi's Ark, First Aid Kit) to Philip Glass, from Jonsi and Alex to Lynyrd Skynyrd (their track Simple Man is a superlative skiing tune), from Burial to Polica. A bit of everything, really.

Q) Alison - "A bit of a delicate question perhaps, but can you say a bit more about Tarka. Or perhaps ask Tarka for a sentence or two that you could put in the blog for him. We are getting to know you quite well, but Tarka is to me still a bit of a mystery. Is he shy about saying anything about himself?"

Haha! As far as I can tell, the two things Tarka dislikes more than almost anything are writing, and talking about himself. He's been promising a blog post of his own for weeks now and I've seen him tapping away at a much-edited draft, but I've given up hassling him. Watch this space...

Last up, I believe the Walking with the Wounded team are due to arrive at the South Pole today (on Friday, anyway - I'm actually typing this on Thursday night). I'm sad we'll miss them there and I hope they all arrive safely - I know they've had a particularly challenging time of it in Antarctica so far and I want to congratulate them all on their achievement. 


# Richard Pierce, December 13th 2013

Wow - another good distance, and, possibly even more impressive, an explorer who loves drum and bass. It would be interesting to know what music the Silent One likes. Maybe that’s a part of his much-hyped, much-edited blog post.

Love the photo of the re-expanded endless horizon. Enjoy being the centre of it.

Take care.


# George Chapman, December 13th 2013

Great looking photo today. It does look like a winter wonderland. According to the way I figure things on Google Earth it looks like you should be able to make it to the Pole by Christmas day if you can keep up 20 miles a day. That’s what I’m hoping for. From what I read the altitude at the South Pole is about 9’000ft so it looks like you only have about 300ft more to go vertically.
Here are some photos from National Geographic of the previous Scott Expedition:

Take care of yourself, stay warm and always remember we are all here wishing you the best

# Katie L'Herpiniere, December 13th 2013

Haha… ‘suspecting Tarka might in fact be an android’... I have also questioned Tarkas origin on an almost daily basis… and I married him! If anyone ever asks, I always sum him up in two words - ‘not normal’ :)

# Robin Stevens, December 13th 2013

My girlfriend asked if you guys would be home for Christmas lol, bless, how are you getting back to the UK? Hope all goes well and the weather is on your side. Merry Christmas to you both.

All our best Rob & Jen xxx

# Phil Satoor, December 13th 2013

I think to be described as “not normal” is a great compliment, perhaps the greatest!  Not that I’ve anything against normal people - I’m one myself.
I think the scenery in today’s photo is particularly beautiful.

# wonderwoman, December 17th 2013

I would like to show my respect to you, Katie. It takes a very special wife for a man to go after his dreams like this. It shows you truly support each other.  How are you coping with him being away so long?

# Eleanor Gay, December 13th 2013

Good to see a bit of a music list.  I wondered.  All sounds good.  How are the boots? Keep them oiled or fatted, rubbed creases.  Beautiful photos!

# Janet Stanley, December 13th 2013

Been away from here for a while so missed updates :( so glad you got the Beardmore done! Interesting snippets on your personalities! I like music also…any kind. Stay safe on the Plateau :)

# William Wills, December 13th 2013

Hi Ben! I’m a UK Graduate Geologist and am enthralled with Antarctic subsurface! If you ever get the opportunity for any close up photographs of any rock exposure on the way back please do!  You may be interested to know that within the rich tapestry of the Beardmore Glacier lithologies there are Permian Coal Measures - indicating that where you have just trecked was once positioned in the tropics!!!  Stay Safe!

# Lydia, December 13th 2013

So it would appear that Tarka is trending on your blog comments which is highly entertaining and I imagine making you and he LOL ( young person speak for actsually laughing out loud). I love The Silent One description and Mrs Tarka’s comment. The man is clearly a remarkable specimen of the human race and like you Ben quite extrodinary. 
Keep on going above and beyond Gents it’s addictive following you.
Lydia x

# Alastair Humphreys, December 13th 2013

How about at least a photo of the great man, Tarka? I’m suspecting he is not actually there at all and is just an imaginary friend you’ve developed on what is, in fact, a solo expedition…

# Kristoffer, December 13th 2013

Tarka’s shown up in the photo for day 47, and I think also in the photo for day 26 too.

# Andrea, December 13th 2013

Glad to know you’re on the plateau now, and weather is kind. Surface also is quite good, looking at the picture. Great job, guys. Keep on and stay safe.
Uhm, and I have to slightly correct you on the “Aliens” side, Ben. The movie you are writing about, second in the series, is the sequel by James Cameron, not Ridley Scott’s, who filmed the original “Alien” (where the android is Ash, the Science Officer).  By the way, I think the character who is more similar to “Tarka the Android” might be Roy, the android of Blade Runner, played by Rutger Hauer :)
Best wishes to you both for the rest of this awesome journey!

# AlisonP, December 13th 2013

Thanks so much, Ben, for the answer to my question about the mysterious Tarka.  And thanks to Katie for her addition too.  If Tarka dislikes writing and talking about himself so much, perhaps you could ask for his observations of the day (not about himself!) and put a sentence or two in the blog on what he says.  Tell him to prove Alastair wrong!

Wow, what you two are doing, day after day, is stupendously amazing.  I am so thankful that you have been blessed so far with mostly good weather, and happy that you had a good day today on the nearly flats.  You two are paragons of determinationand fortitude.  If I could I would just reach out and give both of you great big hugs!  I and so many others who are following you will be celebrating along with you when you teach the pole.  Go forward and stay safe!

# Chris Jeffcoat, December 13th 2013

Hi Ben,
I was introduced to you at the Bremont Boutique by our mutual friend Nick English and since that introduction I have been keen to follow your progress.
Extremely impressed by this amazing challenge you have taken on and wish you all the best for the remainder.
Hope to meet you again.
Look after yourself,

# rod pattinson, December 13th 2013

following you with great interest wonderful achievement thank you for pics

# Mal Owen, December 13th 2013

Early blog today..I presume that means you are having a well-earned, early night. You are eating up the miles.
I look forward to reading Tarka’s long awaited book when published !

# Thea, December 13th 2013

OMG the secret of my son being an Android is finally out ....We all kept it such a secret.

# Caro Buchheim, December 13th 2013

It’s so fabulous to get to follow your journey, guys, and great choice in a soundtrack, Ben. Would you mind assembling a Soundcloud-Playlist “Songs to Walk All Over Antarctica Pulling Heavy Stuff” when you’re back? :)  Cheering you on so very hard from here.

# Nora Wolfe, December 13th 2013

Whoa, I got quite a jolt reading your blog today when you went from “oozing cyborg blood…to chicken dinner in two sentences. Quite funny.

# Sarah Ballinger, December 13th 2013

Love being able to track your journey.  Photo superb.  If Tarka is eating the chicken dhansak he may be human.  :-)

# Dave B., December 13th 2013

This is such an amazing experience to be following through your blog! Thanks for “bringing us along” during this expedition. I am wondering what food are you guys most craving right now? And it seems,Ben, that you are feeling better now after taking the antibiotics?
Keep up the hard work!

# CaninesCashews, December 13th 2013

Hi guys,

Amazing that you can’t see the mountains behind you anymore - what a great day.
I love that Tarka is getting lots of mentions today - you really started something with the cyborg thing :-)

Milestone tomorrow/today with 50 days on the ice - pause for thought I think.

Still knocking over those miles at a great rate keep it up!

Oh and this from Aliens…
Burke (Ben):  It’s just common practice. We always have a synthetic on board.
Bishop (Tarka): [to Burke] I prefer the term “Artificial Person” myself.

Sounds like a plan!

Stay Safe,

# Timi, December 13th 2013

Thank you so much for all of the inspiration that your true courage give to me!

This is a picture about White Umbrella, a protector of travelers (tibetian buddhism). She has 1000 heads, legs and arms. Not a god, rather the very true essence of our own mind.

May you reach the pole and come back in safe! :)

# Sheila England , December 14th 2013

You are right about the Walking with the Wounded team. I just saw a piece on the evening news about them, and they all look well. (Now I’ll have to sort out which way they came in.)  I understand how Tarka must feel; it’s probably the last thing he wants to do. (Have him do some sketches.)
Keep well and safe.

# Intrepid, December 14th 2013

If it stays clear tonight (or any night over the next four nights), isn’t a super howling windy night,and you can get outside for a bit, make sure to look up and see the Geminid meteor showers. The comment about the Geminids are that the defy explanation. Maybe Tarka knows….

In regards to eating the chicken dhansak again, how often do you cycle through meals?  Must you eat everything to the last bite? Is the wrapping edible?

Wondering if C418 is getting any airtime on the flats or during the days you can’t tell where you are because everywhere you look it you see the same thing.

# Keith, December 14th 2013

The people behind Hospital records will now have this information and are probably making plans to open a store on the slopes of Beardmore now they have the statistic that 50% of the population are fans :)    Thanks to the magic of the Internet I’ll try to get a piece of Christmas music I’ve rustled up sent in time for the 25th - the idea of knowing (hopefully) that this may be heard on Christmas day at the south pole would make me a happy man. What a difference between now and 1912 ....I wonder whether Scott ever considered taking his gramophone ...probably not eh? - stay safe xx

# Sheila England, December 14th 2013

If only Scott could see you now.

# CaninesCashews, December 14th 2013

Hi guys,
Great selfie! Reminds me of those photos the astronauts who do spacewalks outside the ISS sometimes do. Just as desolate too!
I wondered when you’d get to the food daydreams, if these are the first ones I’m very impressed.
Well 50 days in – probably over 360 hours on the ice, and God knows how many chicken dhansaks. Keep up the good work guys - great stuff!

Commenting is not available for this entry.