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.

Hard Yards (Day 4)

Day 4: S77° 53' 24.1074", E167° 56' 52.8"

Duration: 7 Hr

Daily distance: 5.6 Mi

Distance to go: 1767.3 Mi

Temperature: -20 °C

Wind chill: -27 °C

Wind speed: 10 MPH

Altitude: 128 Ft

Well, it was more of the same today. Though I seem to have jinxed things by suggesting our mileage might improve, as the surface was rubbish. Hauling my sled felt like dragging an anchor through wet sand, or a plough through clay.

We're skiing at night (technically we're in New Zealand's time zone, though we're operating in UTC). Interestingly Scott also skied at night here as his ponies suffered when it was warmer and the surface was softer.

It's cold as well. The thermometer showed -21 when we got out of the tent this morning, but it seems to drop as we ski, before warming again at the end of our day. We had a headwind for much of today, which is never fun, and it meant slogging away with claustrophobic goggle-vision and a frosted-up face mask.

I feel honoured to be asked a question from the granddaughter of Tryggve Gran (the sole Norwegian on the Terra Nova expedition) -  if we saw where her grandfather slept? The answer is I think so! We saw all the bunks but I'm not sure which was his.

Another question we received was about the sledge harnesses we're wearing. You should be able to see mine in the photos we're sending back today. We actually made them ourselves with the help of a friend of Tarka's who owns an industrial sewing machine! They're based on the brilliant chest and shoulder straps we found in an Osprey pack, and as Andy Ward, our expedition manager, walked from London to Istanbul wearing one of their rucksacks  we thought they'd be a good starting point.So far, they've been brilliant, and they're way lighter than any harnesses we could find commercially.

If I can ask a question in return, how do you pronounce "Tryggve"? I've been wondering that since I first heard about his role on the expedition.

We were buzzed by a helicopter as we pitched our tent this evening, so we're not quite in the middle of nowhere just yet, and adapting to our 6,000 calorie-per-day rations is providing its own challenges. Tarka said his wind was so bad yesterday that he "would have called a doctor" were he at home in France.


# Sharyle, October 29th 2013

Thank you for these daily updates.  It is amazing to follow you on this incredible trek.  I admire you both!

# Gill, October 29th 2013

WOW your pictures are amazing and show how desolate it is out there,
good luck to you and your team, will enjoy reading of you endeavours
on this incredible journey.

# Jörg, October 29th 2013

These are going to be an exciting few months. Thank you for dragging all the tech with you to make these eloquent updates possible!

# Carlos, October 29th 2013

Following your great expedition from Mallorca.
No way I`ll be able to imagine how`s life in such conditions.
Thanks for the daily updates!
My best wishes for such an amazing adventure.

# Kerry Rogers, October 29th 2013

Ben we are so happy to be following your post every day! We couldn’t be more proud of you. Stefan & I were wondering how you guys have been washing yourselves as it’s so cold how is that possible?? You’ll have to write about that someday ;) anyways good luck!!

# Mrs. DeVoe's 5th Grade Class, October 29th 2013

Stay safe and covered up so you don’t get frostbite.  Be careful because ice can be dangerous.  Good luck and you are really brave!

# Remi, October 29th 2013

I’m tracking you guy’s every day from the colonies (Canada). Keep up the slog! You’re doing great.

When do you get to drop off supplies at a return depot? Is it before the Beardmore glacier?

# OffroadingHome:, October 29th 2013

You answered one of the questions I’ve been trying to figure out since you started. Like JK Rowling’s “Marauders’s Map” we’ve been glued to Google Earth to see when your “dots” start to move around each day - and they haven’t seemed to make sense to me. Antarctica time zones have made their own history along with the continent’s explorers. I’ve just uploaded an overlay for the whole continent as they stand now on the Google Earth Resource Map I’ve been making as I follow along. Early antarctic inhabitants kept the time zone of their home country - makes sense. When the sun doesn’t force you into a rigid day and night, why should you?

So, if you’re following the UTC of England - what does your day look like, time wise?  I’m sure your mind is going a lot longer than your body wants to; so, after 7 hours of slogging is the other 17 tent time - putting it up, taking it down, residing in it?  Did your home library let you check out a lot of eBooks?

Would you indulge one other question? We see that your “dots” have finally turned more southward. What is off to the right (southwest?) on the ground that prevented you from turning a bit earlier? All the satellite shows is white, so I’m just curious. Are you following the edge of an ice pack, an old map, avoiding crevasses or rubble piles? In other words, how are you picking your trail?

As this is pretty much all billions of us earthlings are likely ever to experience of Antarctica in our lives - we sure do appreciate you two doing it for us.

# John Brain, October 29th 2013

I am assuming the route has been carefully chosen. Scott, Shackleton and others have all taken a route east before turning south to avoid the heavily crevassed region where the ice sheet of the Ross Sea meets the Antarctic land mass. The point at which Scott changed direction, he called Corner Camp.

# charles, October 29th 2013

Hi guys, first of all, I’m envious of your trips.  Having crossed the Greenland glacier, this brings back good memories.

Speaking of blowing wind; do you guys bother to build a wall to protect from the Antarctic wind blowing ice and snow up where the sun don’t shine or that is a luxury you’re not bothering with ?


# Scott Expedition Team, November 20th 2013

They only build a wall around the tent in extreme conditions.

# George Chapman, October 29th 2013

Really enjoy following your trip on Google Earth. I’m assuming your course is determined by those mountain ranges. Do you see other folks along the trip or are you out there all by yourself. Just wondering if there may be others out there doing research. Wishing you guys the best.

# Caninescashews, October 29th 2013

Glad to hear the harnesses are working out - is this a highly specialised Dragons Den moment waiting to happen??  On slightly more serious note do you guys have anti fogging coating on your goggles/masks or is that a real issue?

# Mark Carson, October 29th 2013

It is amazing to be able to follow your footsteps across that vast emptiness. My family will keep watching from here in Scotland.

# Willy Martinez, October 29th 2013

I’ve always wanted to travel the world and if I ever go to a place with a cold climate I’m gonna use this as a guide for preparation. The stuff that you guys do is truly remarkable and genius, so I really admire your steps that you take. I hope To meet this wonderful explorer

# McDowell Crook, October 29th 2013

I just found your site today and am blown away by your commitment. Best of luck on this most incredible of adventures! Will be awaiting your future updates.

# Jen West's 6-9 year old Montessori class, October 29th 2013

Great work guys.  We were wondering what types of food did you pack?  Do you get to have chocolate?

# Scott Expedition (Chessie), October 30th 2013

Hi Jen. Ben and Tarka have a mix of high-calorie freeze-dried food, energy bars and hot energy drinks plus a few treats including Green & Blacks 85% dark chocolate - so yes, chocolate’s on the menu! Here’s a short video about the food

# Alan Beekman, October 29th 2013

What an amazing adventure. I’ll be sure to follow your progress.
God speed from Napa, CA.

# Gavin Keeble, October 29th 2013

Hi guys
Great writing Ben. My wife and I are off round the Scotia Arc and the Antarctica Peninsula on Jan 5th for a holiday, are following your trip daily and have been reading up on all the explorers of the ‘Heroic Age’ - thanks for asking how to pronounce Tryggve - I’ve been wondering too! BTW, what camera(s) are you using? (sorry if you’ve mentioned this somewhere before!). God’s speed!

# Scott Expedition (Chessie), October 30th 2013

Hi. Ben and Tarka are using a Panasonic GX7. All the best and have a good holiday

# Austin Duryea , October 29th 2013

The things you are doing is extraordinary and brave. I admire you and your group so much. Stay strong and keep motivating each other.

# Tobias Mews, October 29th 2013

Dear Ben and Tarka,

My friends - I’m so proud of what you’re both doing.  I feel rather lazy reading your blogs,lying here on my sofa with a glass of red wine.  However, you have my utmost respect!  I’m logging on each day to follow how you’re getting on.  Seriously - although my sofa is rather comfy - I’d much rather be hanging out of my arse, pulling a ridiculously heavy pulk with you. Although, I’m not sure if I would have managed to leave Scott’s Hut, based on my pathetic attempt to pull 200kg back in Sept! 

Plus - I don’t fancy drafting off Tarka if he’s blwoing like a trumpet!  Let one rip a couple of days ago during the windy Snowdonia Marathon, which immediately stopped the chap drafting behind me in his tracks. Someone else got their own back though when he casually we went to spit on the ground whilst running, only for the wind to pick it up and slam it into my face!

Stay strong you two!  Hope you’re finding inventive ways to keep each other amused!  Oh and here’s a joke: ‘Why did the scarecrow win an award?’  If you’ve not already guessed, I’ll let you know the answer in my next comment!

# Uncle Pete, October 29th 2013

Tarka, now what would your granny have said! But Uncle Bill would have come along too I am sure. Hennie and I are watching this from Canada at present but will follow from UK shortly. Our thoughts are with you both.

# Emma K , October 29th 2013

Ben so glad to see you are pursuing your dreams, best of luck to you both.

# Adrian Hicks, October 30th 2013

Good word guys, keep on grinding it down.

I worked with a Tryggve and he pronounced it Trigvee, hope that helps.

Hopefully Tarka’s wind will equalise the headwind you are currently facing.

Good luck gentlemen

# Mike Brown, October 30th 2013

Windham High School Sophomore History Class will be following you guys!! Best of luck and it is a great comparison to the earlier expedition.

# Kristoffer, October 30th 2013

How so?

Commenting is not available for this entry.