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.

Flat Light (Day 30)

Day 30: S81° 17' 28.2", E168° 55' 40.2"

Duration: 8 Hr

Daily distance: 14.2 Mi

Distance to go: 1530 Mi

Temperature: -8 °C

Wind chill: -17 °C

Altitude: 164 Ft

Antarctica made us work for it again today. There's been a lot of fresh, drifted snow which made the surface far less slippery for our sleds, the wind was full-pelt into our faces all day, and we travelled under a blanket of thick, grey cloud. We had a few spots of complete whiteout, and when the sun did appear it was merely as a faint light-grey disc behind a thick veil that never parted. We had a flat light all day, with hardly any contrast or shadow, which makes navigation (we normally look for interesting lumps of snow on our bearing) particularly hard.

I had one emergency pit-stop in the afternoon, which is never much fun in the land of double-digit windchill, chest-high salopettes, giant mittens and no soap, running water or toilets. On the whole though, I think the hot curry did the trick as I felt far stronger today.

The one highlight of the day lasted about thirty minutes, when the cloud to our SW (ahead and to our right as we skied) lifted at the horizon to give us a brief but tantalising long-range glimpse of some mountains, not far off our bearing. They're a long way off (and probably the Nash Range, the Holland Range, or both) but the sight of land was enough to lift our spirits. I even did a little dance when Tarka was in the lead and I was sure he wasn't looking, though skis, poles and a harness limited my moves somewhat.

We were so determined to get a good night's sleep tonight that we spent a while building a chest-high curved wall, upwind of the tent. Tarka expertly cut blocks with our ice axe while I carried them over to the tent and turned his immaculate rectangles into a wall. Thankfully it's doing a brilliant job and there's a lot less buffeting and noise as I lie here typing in the tent. I thought of Scott and his men as I lugged the heavy blocks around; they used to build walls to protect their ponies in the same sort of weather, and it must have been incredibly hard work.

We're setting the alarm for 6am to try to get a nine-hour day in tomorrow (with food/drink breaks and the time it takes to set up and take down our tent, that means more like 12 or 13 hours outside) so I'll sign off now as I need my beauty sleep.


# Perran, November 24th 2013

I’m following you both every step as the saga unfolds.
Ben - your descriptive language is so appropriate and allows us to almost travel with you on this epic quest. I was wondering if you are also keeping any sort of Journal in the Scott tradition but guess that this extra task in the tent at the end of a painful day is probably a ‘task too far’. In which case I would encourage you to let us into your inner thoughts even more than you do so that the record of your journey can stand as a classic example of the struggles you are both enduring.

# Bartonoli, November 24th 2013

I am really enjoying following your progress through your daily blogs.  Every time I read one it strikes me how amazing this whole thing is and how incredible it is that you are able to share it with us ” armchair explorers”.  Thank you for your daily postings which truly do capture in a very vivid way.

# Andy Lawrence, November 24th 2013

There’s a bit in Everest The Hard Way when Bonnington has an ‘emergency pit stop’ half way up Everest and misses. Two men, small tent, slowly thawing soft and smelly. Nasty!

# Zara, November 24th 2013

I think you both are amazing… I so enjoy your daily blogs. I am fascinated by your journey.
I was recently on a trek to base camp Everest (my South Pole) and in my duffel there was one or two items that I brought that I shouldn’t have bothered with and some I brought as an after thought and couldn’t have done without. What are your ‘shouldn’t have bothered with’ and your ‘I am lucky I brought them’ bits of kit?
Keep the heads up… You are doing fantastic!

# Harlan, November 24th 2013

I’m glad the hot curry seems to have worked. Keep your spirits up and good luck!

# Scott Expedition Team, November 25th 2013

That’s a good question for the end of the expedition! For now every item counts in Ben and Tarka’s sleds.

# CaninesCashews, November 24th 2013

Hi guys
Another great mileage day - is this the expected average now until Beardmore rears it’s head? Vert interesting a about being up outside 12/13 hours for a 9 hour ski. I’m not sure I had considered how much longer you would have to be outside for, over and above your time on the ice.
We’ll done and keep those spirits up.

# dc, November 24th 2013

Will you have to traverse mountain ranges?

# Richard Pierce, November 24th 2013

Good to hear the Jalfrezi did the trick and led to only one emergency pit stop. Getting stronger and faster. Less than 43 minutes now to 82deg. How nicely history is put in context with the building of the wall, an illustration of the fact that the simplest things work and endure. Upwards and onwards! R

# Tara Carlisle, November 24th 2013

Just love the blog and the way you embrace the enormity of the challenge. Eagerly anticipate the blog each day. You are both incredible. I wonder if you prefer having company or if you prefer the solitude of your arctic expedition? Whilst I’m sure it must be reassuring to have someone to chat to, each other’s idiosyncracies must prove very testing at times. I hope you write a book. Quick joke: what do you get hanging from banana trees?           
Sore arms!
Keep up the inspirational endeavour…....wishing you good luck and boundless positivity.

# Janet Stanley, November 24th 2013

Great blog as always…you describe your journey so eloquently! Enjoying your account immensely, hope you are feeling stronger Ben & stay safe to you both! :)

# George Chapman, November 24th 2013

Wow, things sound exciting on the bottom of the World. Navigating via IFR trusting in your equipment and not your instinct. No one in your World but the two of you. You’re now operating off your learning. Keep going guys I can already see the goal on the horizon. Thanks for all the updates and photos.

Following you on FB and Google Earth from sunny Central Florida U.S.A. Todays temperature 66ºF at 5:00 AM EST.

To see a live cam from McMurdo Station
Click here:

# Mickey, November 24th 2013

Well, what do you know…curry did the trick. Yesterday me and DJ were sceptical about Ben’s treatment, as we theought it would only irritate him even more. Apparently not. Fight fire with fire. Unexpected.

# Mickey, November 24th 2013

Damn my typos. XD

# dj, November 24th 2013

You think it was the curry that decreased your diarrhea do you?  How quaint.  If anything Capsaicin etc. INCREASES secretions, bowel motility and sweating (making the skin feel cooler, hence its use in hot climes.)

If you’re truly experiencing a decrease already, it mostly likely means that it’s not viral or bacterial and more likely because you’ve either “already done all you could,” took some anti-motility agent from your kit, or ingested less osmotic load.

[Actually, I’d be happy letting you believe what you want except in this case you might agree that it’s perhaps important to be a little more scientifically rigorous to prevent future occurrences - and mislead blog readers too open to conjecture.]

# Andrea, November 24th 2013

Excellent blog as always. My first daily task is checking the site for an update. Keep on and thank you for sharing this fantastic journey with us.
Out of curiosity, each time I look at Google earth tracking, I wonder what will be the crossing point and the path through the Beardmore’s glacier. I’m anticipating your progress and looking forward at next steps. Wish you strength and best of luck :-)

# Curly Texan, November 24th 2013

Been following you daily since King George Isl. Thank you for keeping us on the edge of your daily grind. I thought of you on my date night yesterday for many reasons, but mostly because we chose to sit outside in near freezing misty weather with thick blanket ponchos provided by the restaurant and didn’t complain once after thinking of those 2 humans surviving daily in the South. Thanks again for chronicling your journey this way and giving me an awesome topic for date night.

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