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.

First Night on the Beardmore (Day 39)

Day 39: S83° 39' 9.792", E170° 53' 42.720"

Duration: 9 Hr

Daily distance: 18.9 Mi

Distance to go: 1365.7 Mi

Temperature: -6 °C

Wind chill: -12 °C

Altitude: 889 Ft

I won't lie. I climbed out of the tent today in a glum mood, nervous about what the day would hold. We put our climbing harnesses on as well as our sledge harnesses this morning, which the fearful part of my subconscious never takes as a good sign. Ahead of us lay a few big crevasses that we could see from our tent, what looked like a remarkably steep climb up to the saddle of the Gateway, a short descent the other side and then the behemoth Beardmore lying in wait the other side.

One of Shackleton's men said travelling on parts of it felt like walking over the glass roof of a railway station. I knew it would be the most risky and challenging section of our route, and I wasn't feeling all that brave about squaring up to it. The early crevasses were old, obvious and easy to work around, and the climb up to the Gateway's col, while steep, wasn't quite as hard as I'd feared. It took about an hour of short strides and hard pulling, the sleds seemingly doubling in weight with the incline, but the surface was kind to us and we went straight up the slope rather than zigzagging. Getting to the top, and seeing what lay on the other side, is a moment I'll remember and treasure for the rest of my life. I hadn't expected the view that greeted us, across to Mount Kyffin and to the right, the giant, sparkling motorway of the glacier itself, heading past the Cloudmaker (a mountain named by Shackleton that did indeed seem to have a perpetual puff of cloud at its peak) up to the high plateau itself. We descended after taking a few photographs and worked our way through some rough ice to the glacier's surface. To my surprise, it felt just like navigating over sea ice, scouting for a route and stepping over the cracks.

We crossed many crevasses but they were all manageable, thanks in part to staying on our skis nearly all day. Most of the open crevasses were one or two feet wide at most, so easy to span with a ski, and the big ones were all filled-in and safely bridged with snow. We've made really good progress and to my absolute surprise, I feel like I'm smitten with the one section of this expedition that I thought would cause me the most fear and dread. It's a magical, magical place, and skiing past landmarks like the Gateway, Mount Hope, the Granite Pillars, Mount Kyffin and seeing the Cloudmaker in the distance makes it feel like I've stepped into the pages of a familiar childhood story book. I'll sign off now as we did nine hours today and I'm pooped, but thank you all for following and commenting, and I hope the photos give a tiny flavour of the reason I'm so full of beans this evening. I'm a lucky, lucky boy.


# Stefan, December 3rd 2013

Good progress - when do we expect update on sledge weights etc . It is incredible how you have managed to double your mileage so it is of great interest to understand how that has occurred. My calculation is that the sledge weight has halved ? but that would mean more depots - or bigger depots have been left.? Please let us know the detail . Can we also have some photos of the whole camp with tent sledges etc so we can visualise the whole scene of what you have and how much you are still dragging ?  A blog from Tarka would be good… ? The blogs are very long - are they being transmitted every night - as they must take a lot of time.

# rob swan , December 3rd 2013

GREAT work Lads .. Buckley soon .. Rob Swan .

# Kevin Wright, December 3rd 2013

Hi Rob. Good to hear you on the blog. Thanks to you and Ann for my 2041 hat and the signed photo for my 3 grandsons. Glad you are there for these guys and I bet you just wished you could be there with them now witness these magical and in your case memorable moments. All the best to you Ben and Tarka Kev

# Alison P, December 3rd 2013

Well done, guys!  I have been nervous about what your first day on the Beardmore would be like, and it makes my heart sing and brings a smile to my face when I read your blog today.  Thank you Ben for being so vulnerable and for sharing your feelings about this trip, for letting us in on the range of emotions you experience.  And what a stupendous picture today!  Great start for the Beardmore!

# Amy Crawford-Small, December 3rd 2013

Feel stupidly emotional reading your post today… You capture the excitement and awe of your journey so beautifully. Thank you for sharing it.

# Ann Pagel, December 3rd 2013

Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. Reading your posts and looking at your photos is the first thing I do every morning. I especially love hearing how magical this day was for you.

# Kevin Wright, December 3rd 2013

Hi Rob. Good to hear you on the blog. Thanks to you and Ann for my 2041 hat and the signed photo for my 3 grandsons. Glad you are there for these guys and I bet you just wished you could be there with them now witness these magical and in your case memorable moments. All the best to you Ben and Tarka Kev

# Jon Gisby, December 3rd 2013

Read this while stuck in armpit-to-armpit strap hanging on a Thameslink train. Great to live vicariously for the rest of the journey. Hope the next few days go as well.
Your descriptions are very evocative, and interestingly boy-ish. If you woke up tomorrow and didn’t know how old you were, what would be your best guess?
Also, you’re presumably in 24 hour sunlight. Is there a cumulative impact of that, mentally or physically?

# tom, December 3rd 2013

absolutely amazing

# Gill, December 3rd 2013

Well done to both of you - The photo of the Beardmore’s Glacier is truly breath taking and brings a tear to ones eye. Good luck and take care on the next part of your incredible journey.

# Marina Kleinwort, December 3rd 2013

Morning Ben.  You guys are inspirational. It’s now an obsession -  every morning before I get out of bed I read your blog.  Gutted it wasn’t there this morning first thing! If I have any niggles in Marina’s World I push them aside as soon as I dwell on what you are coping with on a daily basis.  More than a bit jealous of what you are seeing and experiencing and in total awe at your daily achievements.  You have a hoard of fans following your every step.  Safe pullings.  XXXX

# anna, December 3rd 2013

finally some mountains in vieew, makes it less inhumane…

# Sharyle, December 3rd 2013

What a great blog post!  It is so wonderful to follow you on this expedition as you walk in the steps of Shackleton and Scott.  I just returned from a visit to the Antarctica peninsula where I had a tiny taste of the white continent.  It’s magnificent.  It’s a privilege to follow your daily progress.

# Neilson Spencer, December 3rd 2013

Love the story of Shackleton and his men. So excited to be following this adventure! Looking at this makes photo makes me wish I could be there in person to experience the view. Sounds every bit as magical as you describe it to be.

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