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.

Full Gas (Day 57)

Day 57: S88° 04' 12.24", E159° 20' 17.22"

Duration: 9 Hr

Daily distance: 22.2 Mi

Distance to go: 1036.4 Mi

Temperature: -24 °C

Wind chill: -34 °C

Altitude: 10171 Ft

Right. Enough navel-gazing talk about kindness and wobbles and self-pity, today was all about stepping into our ski bindings, going deep and seeing what we could come up with. The weather was kinder to us, with sunshine, sparse, high cloud, good visibility and a milder headwind, and in nine hours on the move we covered 35.72km (22.19 miles or 19.28 nautical miles) which is a record for us, and personally I'm over the moon after struggling like I did yesterday. It's hard, hard work, and I finished each session (90, 90, 90, 80, 70, 70 and 50 minutes respectively) feeling hungry and drained, but after 10 or 15 minutes sat on the sled eating, drinking and resting, I felt just about ready to go again.

We left our final depot this morning, so lighter sleds was one of the reasons for our turn of speed, and we've gone as far as leaving the Pilot (our satellite transmitter - it's nearly 8kg including cables and batteries) behind, where we'll pick it up again in ten days' time or so. In the meantime, we're sending updates back using the Ultrabook and our Iridium Extreme satellite phone, which is rather slower so I'm afraid the images will be heavily compressed until we reach the depot again.

We're utterly indebted to Tony Haile, who provided impromptu tech support on the satphone last night, and managed to email us the correct Windows 8 drivers in order to get the phone working. I'm still pinching myself at what we're able to do out here in the middle of nowhere thanks to Iridium's satellites and Intel's technology. I wonder what Scott would have made of it all.

I wanted to send a nod of gratitude and respect in Mark Twight's direction. I read his book, Extreme Alpinism, about a decade ago, and it influenced me -and the way I wanted to carry out polar expeditions- greatly. As an alpinist, Mark's focus on training, preparation, equipment, professionalism, commitment, style and ambition led to some groundbreaking achievements in the mountains, and while I can hardly call myself a climber, I realised that this was how I wanted to do things in the polar regions. Days like today are the fruit of the work inspired me to put in over many years, and I'm now lucky enough to call him a friend, as well as a man I respect and admire greatly, as a mountaineer, an athlete, a writer and a coach. Thanks Mark. That's all for now; it's bed time here on the Antarctic plateau as we're going to try to do the same distance again tomorrow. Thanks for following.


# Phil B, December 21st 2013

Just so you know what you’re missing back home, the papers are starting to fill with all sorts of rubbish “White Christmas” headlines. I wonder if you’ll find yourselves looking forward to a Green Christmas - or any other colour BUT white. As I look at the live tracking, I can’t believe how far you are ahead of yesterday’s position. Keep it up - it’s an amazing effort. I guess you’ll soon be passing Shackleton’s furthest south from January 1909. Another landmark to tick off.

# CaninesCashews, December 21st 2013

Hi guys,
Everything seems to have clicked today - weather, visibility, wind and endeavour - to form the perfect slog!
What a great mileage - obviously leaving the Pilot behind has helped, so a good decision there aswell.
Also I type this wearing my Scott Expedition t-shirt that arrived this morning, not sure why but somehow it draws me in a little closer to the two guys pulling heavy things in a pretty cold place.
Stay safe.

# rod pattinson, December 21st 2013

well done nearly there enjoy Christmas new year pleaesemake snowman at pole

# Leigh Phillips, December 21st 2013

A little joke for you and Ben-Guin

What do you call a happy penguin? a Pen-Grin!


# GLK, December 21st 2013

Intelligence comes in many forms. Humanity in one.

Ben and Tarka, your blog and your expedition show many of the first and all of the last. A lot of us could do with following in your ‘footsteps’.

# George Chapman, December 21st 2013

Looks like the guys have stopped today (12-21-13)  at about 4:00PM EST. They made about 22Miles more progress and are now about 105 miles from the Pole.  I’m still hoping they can get to the Pole on Christmas day and it looks like they may be able to do that. Good going guys just another couple days and you will be there. Take care of yourself stay warm and keep positive were going to do this. Then I think you should take a day off at the Pole. If I had planned this trip for so long and spent 62 days getting there I would spend a day there just looking at that beautiful place and recognizing my accomplishments.

# dj, December 22nd 2013

George… I’d love them to be there for Christmas (if that was their hoped for goal) too, especially if that timeline had some substantial significance that escapes me at the moment. Using your figures, 105 miles in four days of travel (counting a full day of work on the holiday, the 25th),  26.25 miles (42 kilometers) per day isn’t something that they have attained yet; and I’m not sure what they would gain even if they felt they needed to do it.  “What win I, if I gain the thing I seek? A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy. Who buys a minute’s mirth to wail a week? Or sells eternity to get a toy? ” [Huh? Poetry from one of those “science guys”?]

Personally, I couldn’t advise anyone with nearly 700 miles ahead of them to push that hard without a substantial and meaningful reason.  While we’re conjecturing, I’d like to see them schedule a routine rest day and the pole seems a great place to do it. (Although, I’m also the kind of guy that wouldn’t think one way or the other if they needed a snow-cat to help them do the last 100 miles due to closing in winter (really) - so, I may not be the one you guys should ask.)

# Intrepid, December 21st 2013

Dear Ben and Tarka,

Wowee kazowee. When you guys make a decision it’s full steam ahead!  There’s a lighter element between the words of the last post almost as though the depot removed the weight from everything. Fun to see (read) the change.  It truly is amazing what can happen in the middle of nowhere.

Tally Ho! and Godspeed!

# LEO HOULDING, December 22nd 2013

Keep Trucking Chaps! Enjoying your posts. Sure you’re dreaming of log fires and roast turkey’s whilst we’re dreaming of white deserts and grand voyages. Perhaps next year we can swap roles?
Enjoy it guys, it’ll be over soon.

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