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.

Heat Wave and Headwinds (Day 34)

Day 34: S82° 16' 16.68", E169° 13' 24.60"

Duration: 8 Hr 30 Min

Daily distance: 18.5 Mi

Distance to go: 1462.2 Mi

Temperature: 0 °C

Wind chill: -2 °C

Altitude: 128 Ft

A properly tough day today (not that we've ever had an easy one here) so we were over the moon to see nearly 30km when we checked the score on the GPS this evening.

Yesterday's ideal conditions blew away overnight and we woke up to a very odd morning. There was a slight breeze, which later in the day would become a full-blast headwind, the sort of wind that in London would flip umbrellas inside-out, and blow over those A-shaped signs in the street. The temperature when we left the tent this morning wouldn't impress many people in the pub: it was precisely zero degrees centigrade, and a fearsome -2 degrees C. windchill. I suspect many people in the UK had a colder start to the day than that, though it felt like the windchill got back to some semi-respectable double figures in the afternoon and Tarka certainly had ice in his beard to show for it.

We've been sent a stack of questions and I'm going to answer a couple now:

Q) (From Perran) I'd love to learn a little more about the blog process - what exactly is involved in the tent at the end of the day in producing the blog, selecting a photo and getting it sent back to the UK?

A) It all starts with the 'tech bag' and the Pilot. The tech bag is a padded drybag that comes into the tent each night and contains our ultrabook (a Sony 11" Vaio Pro), four 58Wh lithium polymer battery packs, our Iridium Extreme satellite phone, our Iridium NAL Shout Nano tracker, something we call 'Simon's box' (a sort of junction box made by Intel for all the cables we have that lets us charge several things at once), a charger for our camera batteries and a load of leads to connect everything together. The Pilot is our modified Iridium OpenPort Pilot satellite transmitter, that lives in the back of Tarka's sled. Originally designed for boats and ships to have global internet access, ours is about half its original weight thanks to a customised plastic housing and some new internal parts, the 'below decks unit' has been stripped down and attached to the base of the Pilot, along with a tiny wifi router. There's a three-metre siliconised low-temperature power cable that comes into the tent. As soon as we get organised in the tent, whoever's not cooking opens the tech bag and starts to warm everything up. Now it's relatively pleasant this just means laying it out on top of a sleeping bag, but back at the start in the minus thirties and forties, it meant ramming batteries into pockets, the Ultrabook into the sleeping bag with you and the phone into your pants. Once we've fired up the Ultrabook (which is remarkably efficient), I write the blog post in a text editor (WordPad) before copying and pasting it into the html form we use to upload it. We take the SD card out of whoever's camera took photos that day, plug it into the Ultrabook, choose a photo, resize it slightly (we're sending them back at 1024 pixels wide, usually about 250kb each although video and some of the higher resolution images are larger) and save it to a specific folder. Once everything's ready to go, we plug two of the battery packs (we start charging these from the solar panels as soon as we get in the tent) into Simon's box, and then plug the power cord from the Pilot into the box as well, which boots it up and creates a wifi hotspot in our tent. Then it's as simple as going online, sending the text, photos and video back, and checking the expedition email account. 

Q) (From Adam) How and where did you and Tarka first meet?

A) I think it was about 10 years ago . Tarka had contacted me for advice on the Arctic Ocean as he was planning an unsupported North Pole attempt from Canada the next year. He cycled a surprisingly long distance over to my flat in Putney on a bike he'd built himself from parts he'd found on a scrap heap in order to have a chat over a cup of tea and we hit it off straight away.

Last up, a belated happy birthday to Alastair Humphreys for yesterday.

And I gather we've had loads of penguin name suggestions. The team in London are going to dig out a prize (a Scott Expedition t-shirt) for the winner to be announced early next week. Watch this space...


# Richard Pierce, November 28th 2013

Great mileage again! Keep going.

Thanks for the techspeak - really interesting. It also puts into stark contrast how Scott and Amundsen had no means of communicating at all with the outside world (wireless radio was in its infancy).

Your readers may be interested to know that the English expeditions used what were called, I think, telegraph posts, which were basically tins nailed to wooden stakes at agreed points, from where hand-written messages could be picked up when one of the main ships came back from New Zealand (once every 6 months or so). Using that technology, it would take us a lot longer to read about your expedition than it is now.

Hope all continues to go well.


# Lydia, November 28th 2013

Wow you guys are ripping up those miles - amazing!!
How about Pina Colada for the ever so cute Penguin - something you will be sipping on a sun drenched beach when you complete this historic expedition…...
Loving your blogs and can’t wait for Tarka’s guest blog he is proving to be the Legend you told us he is.

# Janet Stanley, November 28th 2013

30km! That is fantastic….Think it is all relative re. temps! This morning it was colder here in Sicily than it was in the U.K…..go figure! Hope the weather is especially kind to you both, stay safe…waiting with baited breath on name of penguin lol :)

# Uncle Pete, November 28th 2013

excellent progress - Confirmation of my estimated distance on Google Earth last night (UK time) - I wanted to warn you that there are ‘contours’ ahead by I see from your photo that you must be already aware!  Courage and precaution go with you.

# uncle pete, November 28th 2013

Ps I tried to give Thea a fly by in google flight simulator mode but we passed your track upside down and totally out of control . On balance I think you are safer on the ground! Keep it up. Looking forward to see a repeat improvement in daily achievement after the next underwear change!

# Daniel, November 28th 2013

Nice progress today! Keep it going.

Interesting answer about the tech setup. I really enjoy those little pieces of information about the logistics and technical aspects of your journey.

And a question - How regularly, if at all, do you keep up with events and news from the outside world? Do you use your internet connection to get updated? What do you most care about - world events, politics, sports, updates from your social circles?

# Mal Owen, November 28th 2013

You are making such good progress ... Can’t wait to see the Google Earth tracking reach the Beardmore.
Technology info is very interesting ... Hard to believe how far we mortals have advanced in just one century.
Why did you choose Barnaby as a name?
Has Tarka any mascot or special personal item with him?
Where are Barnaby and Mr Penguin kept during the day? I think Tux might be a rather apt name as he no doubt tux himself somewhere safe for the daily trek….must be a comfort for your mum to know he lifts your spirits.

# torsten richter, November 28th 2013

Hi guys! I am also planning a trip to Antarctica and wants to reach the South Pole. Can you tell me what apparel, equipment and the flight to McMurdo Sound cost?
Best regards Torsten

# Kevin Wright, November 29th 2013

Well done today guys. My wife Judy saw your video yesterday and wondered how you keep yourself looking so clean and fresh? I told her what Robert Swan told me over a beer in 1989, how he, Roger and Garath washed by diving naked in the snow and then back into the tent for a quick dry down during their trip to the pole in Scott’s footsteps. I’m sure Robert has shared this with you also! However are you using the same technic as those guys to keep yourselves looking so fresh and clean?
Keep going as Robert would say! Kevin

# Jovan Dobrosavljev, November 28th 2013

Great what are you doing guys. Your voyage is like the one in Le Guin classic “The Left Hand of Darkness”. And the name for the penguin - “Pico”. All the best!

# Sheila England, November 28th 2013

Happy Thanksgiving guys.  <3

# Prasad, November 28th 2013

I’ve been following your blog since one week & it’s just exciting day by day to see your posts. Wish that you discover something very unique & rare. Is there any experiment that you shall conduct anytime?

But anyways, wishing you both a great & exciting journey to the tip of the earth.

# Caninescashews, November 28th 2013

Great stuff guys - those miles are slamming down.
Thanks for the tech and blog explanation - very interesting.
Onwards (and downwards)!

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