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.

Lift Off

Bags packed, sleds loaded and plane refuelled! Ben and Tarka are now in the air.

Next stop will be Union Glacier then on to Chile.

Providing the weather stays clear they'll be back in Punta Arenas within the next 24-48 hours.

For an idea of the landscape they'll be flying across watch the short video above - taken nearly four months ago as they caught their first glimpse of Antarctica, the vast continent that they've come to know so well.

For plenty more videos from the ice and the wider expedition click here.


# Mal Owen, February 10th 2014

Safe travels ....great manhug ! Thx Andy.

# Kat, February 10th 2014

I think I finally figured out why this expedition moved me so. The original Scott expedition, for all its flaws, successes, tragedies, marked the end, I thought, of the heroic age of British exploration. That those men could display the best of behaviour, their actions informed by their ethics. They were good men, who, as Cherry Garrard said after his horrific Winter Journey, ““But we kept our tempers, even with God”.  I felt that they subsumed their egos to the greater good of their comrades, the expedition and their country. Birdie Bowers gallantly gives Cherry his inner sleeping bag, likely saving his life.  They looked out for each other, they propped each other up.  Oh there were sharp comments, there was criticism among the ranks. We know that from some of the diary accounts and letters sent back home. But still, the over-arching theme was honour.

Reading some of the accounts of expeditions in recent times, I saw men torn apart by psychological dramas, personality clashes, sometimes a lack of caring and respect for their team-mates. Truly it killed me to see this breakdown in civility, I thought. 

What Ben and Tarka have done for me is to restore this notion of the possibility of honour, ethics, ideals, a shared cause, and above all, a great respect and love for each other (man hug here!).  Aside from the remarkable and historic outcome of this expedition, it’s the personal story of these men that has really moved me.  I’m sure they’ll be best mates for life.  I admire them for this reason. It’s a kind of a public re-birth of the greatness of what people can do when their hearts, minds and bodies are all working together toward honouring the highest achievements that we are capable of. 

And *that’s* why I was so moved.  Thank-you both! Massive respect to Ben & Tarka, best wishes for the future!

# Jan, February 11th 2014

Dear kat,

That is very insightful and well put. I couldn’t put my finger on it before, but even Ben’s language reinforces your point, and now that you have said it, I fully agree. I was thinking earlier that is writing has been steeped in the writings of Scott and his mates and thus has a heavier, more profound cadence to it, but I like your thought so much better. It is not the style but the world view behind the writing that gives it such impact and gravitas. Thanks for writing!

# Vladimir Pauliny, February 11th 2014

Dear Kat,

I absolutely agree.

As the whole paradigm of going to remote wild places has moved from “exploring” to “outdoor adventure” the original spirit of gallantry and good manners, even when facing extreme conditions, has often been replaced with ego-filled hunger for fame and publicity.

Ben and Tarka have brought us back to finer times of polar travel. And the most fascinating part of their endeavour was their relationship. Every now and then it emanated from Ben’s writing how deeply they cared for each other and how their utter friendship was their best weapon against the adverse conditions.

The strength of respect and caring for each other thus features high on a list of things to learn from Ben and Tarka’s memorable achievement.

Best regards,

# Richard Pierce, February 11th 2014

Brilliant comment, Kat, and an analysis from the heart. Thank you. R

# Austin Duryea, February 11th 2014

And Alas the brave men move on with thier lives after the dangerous expedition across the South Pole and back.Many hope that they will have another challenge that we may follow( me more than any of them). So long the brave men that crossed the South Pole and back. I will miss the days of coming home and reading about your amazing adventures. Safe travels and have a cup of Hot Cocoa when you get home. It’s on me.:)

# Damian, February 11th 2014

Kat, you’re definitely onto something.

It could also mark the beginning of a new age of British adventurers off the back of seeing Ben and Tarka, hopefully they can continue to reinvigorate the honour and ethics you highlighted as being so important when undertaking a challenge as difficult as this.

# Pavol Timko, February 11th 2014

Safe journey from Antarctica is the final step. Not just this expedition but also the end of the over 100 years old striving to complete the route. Scott and his brave companions may rest in peace now. The deed is done.
And yes, dear Ben and Tarka, welcome in the realm of darkness you haven’t experience for quite a while. Enjoy the look to the stars. You are one of them now…

# Richard Pierce, February 11th 2014

Now that Ben and Tarka are off the continent, I can post what I always see as a concluding, joyful poem about Cape Evans.


The bushman and I drop down onto the scoria,
in the lee of the wind, dig a hole with our hands
for the metal bowl, and light our cigarettes.
We look out across the ice, eyes shaded against
the hue and sun of the Antarctic night, and
shout our swapped stories into the gale that grabs
at us despite our shelter; talk of home and family.

His hands are brown, coloured by toil and climate,
sinuous as the wood he works. For many years
he has been rescuing history from the strife of time,
rebuilding travellers’ huts around the edges of this
continent. Each one different, he says, for each has
its own spirits, its restless ghosts, its faithful souls;
a presence shaped by suffering and sacrifice.

Human courage and determination has left its sweat
in each grain of wood, its grime on every particle
that dances on the sun’s music inside these places,
an exuberance beyond the achievement of construction,
over and above the intricacies of engineering, the
carpenter tells me, his face alight with reverence.
We are the servants of history, lucky to be here.

The bushman and I take a drink while we smoke
our next. The Transantarctic Mountains watch our
conversation from across the sea ice, see our breath
rise above the tops of our tents, wash away towards
the mainland and scatter. Behind us, Erebus smokes,
too, his plume rising to meet the clouds that gather
around his crown to create the coming blizzard.

We fall silent, awed by nature’s brutal scale. This
is now no place for voices. Seals scatter from some
unseen tremor they mistake for a hunting orca. The
penguins race for the safety of the icy bluff. And
then nothing. The seals burrow back down into the
snow and the penguins dive into the pool exposed
in the breaking ice. Cape Evans is at peace again.


# Andrea, February 15th 2014

Indeed, this is the level. And in that nothing of the then, is the nature from there, from Antarctica.

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