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.

Improvise, Adapt, Overcome (Day 84)

Day 84: S84° 32' 33", E168° 12' 16.2"

Duration: 4 Hr 30 Min

Daily distance: 12.1 Mi

Distance to go: 503.3 Mi

Temperature: -9 °C

Wind chill: -16 °C

Altitude: 4278 Ft

By the time you read this it'll be January 17th, which is the date Captain Scott, along with his companions Bowers, Oates, Wilson and Evans reached the South Pole. Scott famously described it as "An awful place" and their journey over the plateau as "awful monotony", and while Tarka and I have had a pretty unique glimpse into the sort of deprivation, exhaustion and suffering they must have battled, we're also awestruck at their tenacity and spirit in the face of such profound isolation and risk; neither of which we have come anywhere near experiencing, with our daily satellite phone calls, emails, live satellite tracking, and video messages from loved ones, friends and supporters.

Speaking of suffering and deprivation, we're both hungrier than ever, which I wasn't expecting after the amount we refuelled following our resupply, but I suspect our bodies have so little fat or superfluous muscle they can turn into fuel that we're almost totally reliant on what we eat to keep us going now. Tarka commented today that dragging a sledge full of food around and yet being hungry all day is a pretty effective form of torture.

Lastly, an update on our progress: Tarka snapped one of his crampons today so we've stopped early to repair it, and while it was a real shock and an undeniable setback - especially as the crampons were among the few bits of our gear that have seemed bombproof and performed flawlessly so far - the repair looks solid and we should be able to put in another big day tomorrow. As Tarka put it this evening (I've omitted several swear words to make his feelings suitable for a family audience): "This place never gives you an inch, it never cuts you any slack and it always has to have the upper hand. It's either a whiteout or a headwind or it's freezing cold or a bad surface or there's some catastrophe like this. I've never known anywhere like it."


# dj, January 17th 2014

Really glad you’re ok. We’ve all been following the “break” in travel all day worrying about what kind of possible physical injury might have accompanied a broken crampon.  How much force does it take to break a crampon… what are they made of… and how’s Tarka’s foot?  Looking back on this very segment passed when climbing up, it substantially slowed you down then as well.  What was the obstacle that did that much damage?  Did I say that we’re glad you’re ok?

# dj, January 17th 2014

Oh, sorry I’ve just got to ask.  It hasn’t been too long ago that you spent a day in camp recovering from, what did you call it, hypothermia from near starvation?  I think you also said that you had mis-calculated supplies needed; but, I’m not sure we’ve ever heard what the final assessment was.  I’m asking this because I’m wondering what specific actions ya’ll have put in place to assure that it doesn’t happen again.  Frankly, from the symptoms you’ve described today I’m agreeing with you that you seem to be on the “edge"and either need less energy output (as if that could happen) or greater caloric intake.  What do you think? Could you clue us in a little on this?

# Christian P - Berlin, January 17th 2014

Tarka, Ben,

Please never forget the shining sun behind the clouds. My thoughts are with you. Stay strong, brfilliant and at the end there is your “Victory”! Greetings from Germany

# Allison & Mark, January 17th 2014

More than two thirds of your epic joirney completed.
There may be only the two of you but you are keeping an enormous amount of people entertained and educated by giving us an insight of your journey and personal inner feelings. We cannot have any idea of what it must be like to be in your shoes/crampons
There are good things about (relative) solitude, apart from the cold, wind, snow and ice that is. Anyway, if you were back here now, the way the world is, it would still irritate you, albeit in warmer temperatures.
Not far now. Looking forward to meeting you again up here in the wilds of Lincolnshire.

# Robin Stevens, January 17th 2014

Lads you are doing so well!!! I couldn’t imagine doing the challenge that you have taken on. Working on merchant ships in the Baltic in the ice and snow during winter was enough lol.

I hope Intel appreciate your efforts, I wonder if Scott ever thought that there would be such an after party of his mark on the most inhospitable beautiful land ?

Hope you make better progress today and the repair job holds out till Scott’s hut,my fingers, toes and anchors are crossed!!!!

All the best,

Robin Stevens from St.Ives Cornwall

# Richard Pierce , January 17th 2014

I obviously put the hoodoo on you yesterday by commenting on your distance, so I’ll say nothing of the sort today. I think I was punished by not being able to get to sleep till 3 a.m., hence my late arrival here.

Worried by your comment about feeling hungry all the time, and hope you do have enough food to get you safely back to Terra Nova.

Glad the damage seems to have been not too severe and that Tarka is not injured in any way. When you write the book of the expedition, please do put in the swear words.

Wishing you a good, safe day with much progress.

God Speed.


# Uncle Pete, January 17th 2014

I think we can imagine the deleted expletives, justified under the circumstances! A tough break, in every way. We trust you fashioned a substantial repair, it is not clear from the photo whether this was a metal break or strapping - hopefully the latter which might be easier to fashion the repair. Further proof - if needed - of the really extreme conditions you are working under. I hope your equipment suppliers appreciate the sort of field testing you are carrying out! Take precaution on the repair and wishing you good progress down today and a safe passage onto the Ice Shelf in the next few days. Maybe your bodies got a slight break during the enforced stop to build up some reserves. Go safe.

# Bill Taylor, January 17th 2014

Timely reminder, thanks. Take care and eat well!

# Chris Wood, January 17th 2014

Incredible mileage for the 4.5hrs, well done! Have a good meal, and take the spare time to gather your strengths. I know you know this but for the next few days you both need to keep your wits about you, don’t let the relatively easy journey on the way up trick you into missing that little ankle twisting crevace. The blue sky and mountains in the photo are like a postcard. It must be such a boost to your spirits to see something physically moving in your field of vision, gps tells you that you travelled but how great to see actual scenery instead of endless white.

Wishing you safe, sunny travels


# Phil Satoor, January 17th 2014

I found the following paragraph from Birdie Bowers’ Diary -

“January 24 [1912] ... otherwise we are all well, but thinning, and in spite of our good rations
get hungrier daily. I sometimes spend much thought on the march with
plans for making a pig of myself on the first opportunity. As that will
be after a further march of 700 miles they are a bit premature.”
[Apsley Cherry Garrard’s “The Worst Journey in the World”]

I have often thought when reading this that if they were getting hungrier, their rations can’t have been as good as they thought they were.  However, I assumed that with the advance in nutritional knowledge in the last 100 years, a current expedition would find their modern rations satisfying and they would avoid hunger.  But several times in your blog, you’ve mentioned your getting hungrier which makes me suspect that whatever rations you took, you would eventually get hungry.  To avoid this you would have to start with so much food you would hardly be able to drag it.  Anyway, I think the time for such a discussion is after the expedition is over.

For now, keep safe and if possible, enjoy your journey.  I would think you’re very unlikely to go that way again!!

# Debbie, January 17th 2014

Hi Ben and Tarka,
You are both doing so well! I am rubbish when I am hungry, it makes me grumpy so here’s a joke to cheer you up;
Q: What did the big furry hat say to the warm woolly scarf?
A: “You hang around while I go on ahead.”
keeping going you are on the way home :)  Look after yourselves x

# Nansen, January 17th 2014

Sorry to hear about the crampon.  I have had the same trouble with the same crampons and boots.  It has been caused because going down puts more pressure on the crampon than going up.  Given the state of the glacier I think you will be fine even though the damage is annoying.  Re your hunger, I am puzzled by why you didn’t take more food from the resupply?  I would have thought if you were going to that trouble you would get more than 8 days extra food (ie less than 12 kg)?

# Usman Awan, January 18th 2014

Hi Tarka,

You are doing great. You guys have set a great goal improve yourself to compete the challenges then adapt it and then overcome. This is simply great may you guys be the victors at the end of day. Best of luck for all your team member.

Usman from Technosoft Solutions Inc.

# Helena, January 17th 2014

I am so sorry for you guys you are being hungry all the time now. I wish I could give you some of my fat. Will you be able to make the next month? where will you bodies take the energy now?

I wish I could shake your hands one day, you brave men :-)

# COLIN BUCKLEY, January 17th 2014

Improve,adapt, overcome. Three rules that need to be applied to everyday life.
You guys are like rock, SOLID ROCK! and Rocks can’t be broken that easily. The mind is also a Rock, and it’s power will keep you winning the challenge everyday. Improve as you get closer to the finish line, adapt to the energy required to reach that finish line. And when you get there, well… it’s all been overcome at that point. 1 day closer to victory! Stay safe.
Cheers Colin

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