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.

Into the Mist (Day 92)

Day 92: S81° 57' 56.34", E169° 13' 30.60"

Duration: 9 Hr 30 Min

Daily distance: 24.2 Mi

Distance to go: 320 Mi

Temperature: -4 °C

Wind chill: -7 °C

Altitude: 72 Ft

Not a great deal to report from this end of the planet: another day slogging into a full-blown, zero-visibility whiteout, trying our best to stave off hunger, drowsiness so bad that we both staggered like drunks at times, and perhaps imminent mental breakdown from staring at an infinite foggy white blankness for nearly ten hours (and in my case with drum and bass being transmitted at point-blank range into my eardrums for most of that period).

It was pretty grim, and Tarka and I both vented our frustration by coming up with choice replies to the many well-meaning messages we've had reminding us to "Look up at the horizon" and "Don't forget to enjoy it!" As you can see, looking back behind us yielded better views, in this case of Tarka following my tracks with the mountains behind him. And speaking of views, my self-portrait yesterday triggered a flood of not-so-flattering messages to our satphone, so I dread to think what the comments were like.

This limerick from Tony deserves a wider audience: "The South Pole put Ben through the ringer, And thousands on his website would linger, But despite all the press, The fans think of him less, Ever since they saw he's a ginger."*

When I re-read Scott's diaries out here I always have a horrible feeling that we're perhaps in some way disrespecting the poignant and desperate nature of his last few days on the Ice Shelf by sharing things like this, but the more I read of the Terra Nova expedition (and see of it, in Ponting's incredible film The Great White Silence), the more I'm convinced that humour is a universal and timeless panacea that has helped many people through many dark hours out here in this ever-frozen corner of the world.

Tarka's and my plight may be nowhere near as desperate as Scott's, but I still lack the words to explain the physical and mental depths that we plumb each day, the leaden feeling in my body that I wake up with each morning and my surprise, looking down at my skin-and-bone legs, that I can still generate any motive power at all. This is proving a heck of a camping trip.

*N.B. it's just my giant beard that's ginger. Once upon a time when I used to have hair on the top of my head it was blonde.


# Rich & Ione , January 25th 2014

Ask Andy to send you yesterday’s comments on having a rest day for you to read and consider.

Also need a selfie of Tarka for the comparative caption competition

# Oliver, January 26th 2014

A set time limit when the camp at Union glacier closes. Unless pay lots of money to keep the camp open. Like the re supply.

# Duncan, January 25th 2014

Ha! Be ginger and proud. Keep on tuckin’. What you are doing is amazing and really helps the rest of us keep on pushing in our own ways day by day. Hope your hospital records collection is still fresh!

# Helena, January 25th 2014

How many days still before you? It is less and less. Yes, the best way how to survive is not to loose a sense of humor! :-)
Keep safe, make some rest, still with you and praying for you.
“The dog you sold us, is not worth anything!”
“How is that possible?”
“Last night was barking so loudly that we did not heard a thief in the kitchen!”

# Intrepid, January 25th 2014

About to board another plane, heading back up to 39000 feet. Read today’s post. Saying hello. Wish the fog would go away so you could see the moon, it’s a glorious half.  Chiming in to say it would be nice if we could have a Tarka selfie sometime… soon.  Keep on, keeping on!!

Here’s a clever joke created by my nephew when he was 6. Why did the man say, no, no, no, no? Because he knowed himself.

# David, January 25th 2014

The two of you alone understand how a return journey from the pole causes such physical and mental stress. We your blogg support are still following your efforts day by day. Perhaps a rest day with lots of food at your next depot ?
Take great care - stay safe
God speed home

# Wayne, January 25th 2014

My daily chuckle :)

# MJB, January 25th 2014

I continue to be in awe of your mental toughness and depth of your character as you stare deeply into the eyes of suffering.  Peace be to you and Tarka’s spirit.

# Steve Hughes, January 25th 2014

Cracking photo Ben (of tarka following your tracks….not your selfie) You pair are an inspiration. Keep strong.

# Supernounou, January 25th 2014

Hi Tarka and Ben,
I’ve been following your every step and all of your incredible blogs and would like to say to you Tarka, that I feel ‘Macgyver’  and ‘He man’ would both be very proud of you both and could probably learn a couple of things from you. Especially Macgyver,as your idea for drilling holes in your toothbrush to make it lighter is excellent!
Keep safe, much love xx

# Alison Lowndes, January 25th 2014

I just moved house and finished my 5th and last mock exam for my degree course. My eyesight is blurry and every inch of me aches from carrying boxes and being so physically and mentally active. That’s my life right now. Your life is exponentially more difficult if you compare it to mine, and Scott’s to yours but don’t ever belittle what you’re doing just because you live in a world with more knowledge more gadgets more comfort and more tech than Scott’s. Society has better ways to battle cancer now too but my Mother still died way before her time. I have to continue laughing and smiling, knowing that.

Be you. Finish this epic journey as You. Not Scott. Your selfie was brilliant and also vital for all us armchair-explorers who would never have the drive or courage to do what you and Tarka are doing. Honestly I think we need more selfies!

# Helena, January 25th 2014

yes, exactly :-)

# catherine, January 25th 2014

Agree with you, and the fight with cancer is a daily battle for so many. Ben and Tarka it made me smile to think of you both venting over our well meaning comments…I do hope they are sending you the ones echoing how many of us think you should take a rest day…  although I can just imagine you feeling that if you stop you won’t be able to start again…

# CaninesCashews, January 25th 2014

Hi guys,

What a great photo, but I agree – be nice to see Tarka for a beard comparison!

Its amazing that you are a good days march away from being in those two hundreds on the little mileage counter – seems unbelievable really. I know that it is very probably not the case with you guys on the ice, but these last few hundred miles seems to be flying by for so fast for us armchair or office blog followers.

I am going to need to start planning how to wean myself from daily Google Earth checking, Twitter and Facebook notifications and Firefox blog alerts!

With the laughter thing, I have always considered laughter as the valve on the pressure cooker that is my life, so what better place to employ it than on this extraordinary expedition. I’m pretty sure you have lots of steam to let off, in my experience its only laughter and swearing that will cut it, and I feel certain that it was the same in Scott’s day – remember not everything goes in a diary.

See you in the two hundreds.

Stay safe

# Ione & Rich, January 25th 2014

Beards have their uses:
A (bilingual) explorer said,‘Merde,
Just look what I found in my beard,
Two eggs and some steak
And some Kendal Mint Cake,
Mon Vieux, we’ll not starve as I feared!

# DaveT, January 25th 2014

Well done B&T! Your difficulties are giving us real insight into the deprivations Scott must have suffered on his last journey. It now seems almost incredible that he did as well as he did, and were it not for the atrocious weather that hit them as they approached ‘One Ton’ things might have been very different. Make sure you monitor your own energy levels carefully, and take additional rest and victuals as needed to maintain the momentum over the homeward stretch.

# Richard Pierce, January 25th 2014

Being my usual weekend late, I have loved the comments that precede mine today, partly for their concern for B&T, and mostly for their levity, creativeness and humour.

I can see now, somehow more so than yesterday, how driven you are, Ben and Tarka, to complete your quest on your terms and within the bounds of necessity, not easy romanticism. And by doing that you are so far away from disrespecting the nature of Scott’s own quest and plight (along with that of Wilson and Bowers, Oates and Evans); in fact you are honouring them and all those who have explored the Antarctic. This is why I am willing you on to complete your journey; this is why everyone here is willing you on.


Day from night born above.
Clouds blossom from the horizon
On the cusp of dark and light.
We retrace our paths.

The moment has stretched into
Nothing, no more than memory
What we touched and saw and felt.
It falls away beneath us.

We move backwards in time,
Away from the dateline, back
To yesterday, back to where we
Came from, what we were.

Yet the ink does not fade, what
Is written remains, what we did
Cannot be changed, although
We are northwards bound again.

Nothing can undo the century
We have lived, nor the tragedies
Recalled through our travels.
We can never be the same.


# Andrea, January 26th 2014

I.e. “The moment has stretched into
“Nothing can undo the century
We have lived, nor the tragedies
Recalled through our travels.
We can never be the same. “

# Uncle Pete, January 25th 2014

Great mileage again chaps but I do see your track weaving left and right (offroading blog overlays). We can only assume you have a good reason for this as it makes a longer path than straight-lining! No doubt your backup team, who are hopefully monitoring comments and passing on the gist of this terrific worldwide support, will check this with you! It must be very difficult to keep on a compass bearing in such conditions - no horizon features nor viz. At least you seem to have been able to accurately home in on your old camps/stashes so far with GPS. I don’t suppose you took airline eye masks with you - really good for ensuring sleep in ‘light’ conditions and more comfy than gaiters! God speed and keep your wits about you (and sense of humour). Pete

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