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.

Glacier Chiropractors (Day 45)

Day 45: S85° 2' 12", E163° 57' 27.6"

Duration: 8 Hr 30 Min

Daily distance: 19.3 Mi

Distance to go: 1257.1 Mi

Temperature: -12 °C

Wind chill: -24 °C

Altitude: 6545 Ft

Tarka and I were sat on our sleds early this afternoon, resting and eating after another 80-minute stint of walking on crampons over blue ice. As I chewed on an energy bar there was a loud crack or bang, like a rifle shot or a firework going off, and a definite shock wave. I'd noticed the ice making pinging, popping and cracking noises as we walked over it for a couple of days, but I'd never actually felt anything.

"Did you feel that?", I asked Tarka. "I love that", he said, "my wife hates it and gets all jumpy, but I feel like a glacier chiropractor, helping click all those thousands of tons of ice under pressure back into place. I always imagine the glacier sighing with relief afterwards."

Today was another character-building one, with difficult weather throughout (low cloud cover, flat light and a cold headwind coming off the plateau) and undoubtedly the hardest section of travel we've encountered, namely the blue ice climb past Mount Buckley and Mount Bowers - both part of Buckley Island - at the top end of the Beardmore Glacier. The vertical ascent was only about 200 metres, but it was a short, sharp, steep climb over a fractured surface that had us both working like shire horses.

Incidentally, we spotted Mount Saunders on our big map of the Beardmore when we were writing route notes for our return journey last night. Sadly it's too far east of us for a detour, but I had no idea it was here, and I have no idea who it's named after.

The other happening of note today was finding a man-made object near the foot of the craggy rocks of Mount Bowers, the rusted remains of a tin can. Any markings on it were long gone, and it was impossible to tell its age or where it came from, but it looked ancient and I know that Captain Scott stopped here to "geologise" for a day, so you never know. His team found fossilised ferns in the rock nearby, and I often feel a bit guilty that we're racing through a place that would surely be Mecca for most geologists and glaciologists.

I'll sign off now as I'm cooking, I'm tired and it's late, but we leave a depot tomorrow night and then hang a left and head due south on the plateau for the Pole, so it's an exciting transition for us. Watch this space.


# Jen, December 9th 2013

Sounds so amazing. I got a little bit of a startle reading that, and then smirked at Tarka’s comment about the glacier. How fabulous.

# Janet Stanley, December 9th 2013

I loved your description of a glacier sighing as if in relief….also discovering archaeological finds! Wouldn’t it be amazing if it does belong to the Scott party? Stranger things have happened…
Thanks again for taking the trouble to write this blog every day, I look forward to it immensely.
Ciao for now & stay safe :)

# George Chapman, December 9th 2013

Every day sounds even more exciting and I set here wondering what it will be like when you get to the pole. So far everything has gone so well for you and I pray things keep going well for you. Would it not be nice if you made it to the pole on Christmas day? That’s 16 days from now, I’m figuring you could just make it. What do you experts think is that about right? 20NM a day for 14 days and they should be there does that sound right. And that give’s two days to spare. Is there a Santa Clause on the South Pole?

# Offroading Home, December 9th 2013

For anyone who has downloaded the “un-official Scott Expedition Google Earth Resource File (map) - - now is the time to click the box next to “MODIS Ice Overlay” and see the most recent high-definition satellite map of the area. The quality isn’t so good in the mountainous region of the Beardmore, but becomes really good out on the ice sheets.

The portion of the trip that Ben and Tarka have before them definitely has many more “contour lines” than the Ross Ice Sheet.  This last portion (although shorter) could be more difficult than they have gone through yet - it’s good the sledges are much lighter.

# Eleanor Gay, December 9th 2013

I missed the neat web page with packing the sled for the expedition.  I was able to view it only.  I will go back to find it.  The whole web page looked nice.  BTW do you cook with little sternos,  some way to heat the the food.  In videos you mention meals and then six
Snack breaks.  Keep your bellies warm.  Wrap extra scarves around midriff. Tuck into
Pants.  Snacks should be warm if possible.  Be careful. God be with you two fellows.
Eleanor Gay

# Richard Pierce, December 9th 2013

Tarka’s obviously a deep thinker, too. I like that.

I hope you took a photo of the tin you found. I’m sure the NZ Antarctic Heritage Trust would be interested in the find.

Great that you’ve got near the end of old Beardmore so quickly without any of the hold-ups Scott experienced. That’s a real result. Take care on the plateau. Everything up to now has just been the hors d’oeuvre.

God Speed.


# Torsten Richter, December 9th 2013

Hi guys,

there was never a record of the burial of Edgar Evans. Could you imagine or guess where he might be? I find your service very good and I hope for a more convenient travel. When will you be at the South Pole? At Christmas?


# Phil Satoor, December 9th 2013

I believe Edgar Evans died further down the Beardmore, just south of the “gateway”, not far from Scott’s Lower Glacier Depot, on February 17th 1912.  I think Ben and Tarka passed this point around December 2nd (day 39).
I hate to say it, but I think he was better off out of it, bearing in mind the torrid time he had in the last week of his life, coming down the glacier, and the horrible experiences awaiting the rest of the party as they trudged north across the barrier in -40C temperatures and short of oil.
I’m getting all this info from “The Worst Journey in the World”.  But that title doesn’t refer to the polar journey itself, but to the journey to Cape Crozier made by Wilson, Bowers and Cherry-.Garrard the previous winter

# Kristoffer, December 9th 2013

Yes, P.O. Evans died not long before Shambles Camp.  However, from Sienicki’s research, it appears clear that Scott’s party did not encounter -40 C on the Barrier.  Also, Sienicki and I would treat anything Cherry-Garrard has to say with extreme caution and double-check it.  Same goes for Scott’s diary from 7 February 1912 onward.

# Mia Bentley, December 9th 2013

HAHAHA, Ben, when Tarka and i lived in Tignes as kids, we used to cross over the lac when it was frozen and i recall when i used to worry that the ice was cracking and made the mistake of asking Tarka if he heard that too, he would come near me jump up and down in an attempt to break the ice and run off, leaving me trying to move away as quick as i could before it really did break which would have given me all of 2 or 3 minutes to get out of the water alive! Still, im sure he will be more careful with you!
Keep it up boys your doing great x

# Lee Ha, December 9th 2013

As you make your way towards history, I can’t help but be thrilled that we live in a time when your every move is known to us all pretty much immediately!  The behind the scenes planning and ongoing technical stuff must be vast as you make your way toward your goal. Not only the tracker but your blog and photos coupled with the current stats we see allow us to be as close to trekking across Antarctica as most of us will ever be.
And on you go, be strong and enjoy the journey.

# Steve Jones, December 9th 2013

Well done guys, I am thrilled at your progress, you are doing so well. After 45 days of travel your position ties in very closely with the three previous expeditions to have skied the route in the last 30 years, who were all doing one-way journeys to the South Pole, starting of course with expediton patron Robert Swan’s expedition. There are challenges ahead so I hope you have good visibility over the next few days.
Best wishes, Steve

# Kristoffer, December 9th 2013

Your statement about all three expeditions being one-way trips is not true.  Swan’s Footsteps of Scott expedition and I believe one other expedition were intended as round trips, but both had to abort the return trip.

# Steve Jones, December 9th 2013

Reply to Kristoffer,
I saw there was some confusion and erroneous information about this in the blog comments some days ago. Robert Swan’s original idea - years before the expedition - was for a return expedition with dogs and depots like Scott, but Roger Mear persuaded Robert to attempt a one-way committing expedition without resupply, depots, radios etc., and this is what they planned and did. At the time it was considered an outrageously bold venture. There are two books about the expedition: In The Footsteps of Scott by Roger Mear and South Pole 900 Miles on Foot by Gareth Wood.
The two subsequent expeditions that have travelled the same route and ascended the Beardmore Glacier were both planned as one-way unsupported journeys: The 2008 Matrix Shackleton Centenary Expedition started from Cape Royds, led by Henry Worsley, who wrote the expedition book: In Shackleton’s Footsteps, and the 2011 Scott-Amundsen Race, also organised by Henry Worsley who led the team on Amundsen’s route, whilst three friends skied on Scott’s route.
The expedition that was planned as a return journey, but only made it to the South Pole with a resupply was the 1998 Iridium IceTrek expedition. They started from Scott Base and skied up the Shackleton Glacier not the Beardmore Glacier and knew before they reached the Pole that they would not be attempting the return journey. Peter Hillary wrote about this in his rather poignant book In The Ghost Country.

# Arthur Blackwell, December 9th 2013

“Mount Saunders (85°21′S 165°26′E) is a mountain at 2,895 metres (9,498 ft), forming a part of the western escarpment of the Dominion Range, 7.2 km (4.5 mi) NNW of Mount Nimrod. Discovered by the British Antarctic Expedition (1907–09) and named for Edward Saunders, secretary to Ernest Shackleton, who assisted in preparing the narrative of the expedition.[4]”
Cheers Arthur

# Offroading Home, December 9th 2013

FYI: All the mountains in the Dominion Range are labeled with explanations in the “un-official Scott Expedition Google Earth Resource File (map)” available free at: for use with your computer’s Google Earth.

Wish Ben would have mentioned something about passing the “Shackleton Ice Falls.” They were mentioned in Worsley’s explanation of the trip as something they should stay out of (and he subsequently told me they were west of Buckley Island); but they aren’t shown on any map I can find (or Google Earth) and there is still some uncertainty about where they are exactly.  Perhaps, they are the reason the terrain has been so “chiropractic” for them?

# Alastair, December 9th 2013

Every day now I grin a satisfied grin to see that you are getting into your stride.

# CaninesCashews, December 9th 2013

Well done guys - another great day on the crampons.
How interesting to find that little can in the middle of nowhere, I wonder what adventurer carried it into that place, and the story attached.
You seem to have maintained your mileage at this high rate and are managing to keep that rapid pace going even through the Beardmore. Whether that is by force of will or good planning/navigating (or a mix of the two!), it is a wonderful thing for us ‘followers’ to experience each day as we log on to these blogs.
Dickens (at least I think it was Dickens) wrote, “If I could not walk far and fast, I think I should just explode and perish.” I think you two probably empathise with that more than most.
Stay safe.

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