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.

Lomito’s (Day 50)

Day 50: S86° 13' 30.3", E159° 37' 42.3"

Duration: 8 Hr 30 Min

Daily distance: 17.7 Mi

Distance to go: 1165.2 Mi

Temperature: -22 °C

Wind chill: -38 °C

Altitude: 9006 Ft

Another tough day in the office down here at the bottom of the world, wrestling with the Antarctic trifecta of misery: a headwind, a lot of slogging uphill and a sticky, crusty surface. I obviously spoke too soon about things flattening out as we came up another 106 metres today (we're camped at 2,758m).

It was hard work and deeply frustrating as even on the flat-ish bits the headwind meant we were unable to get any real speed up, and at times it felt like our sleds were as heavy as they were a month ago. We both finish each day feeling truly drained, but we're pleased with the ground we're continuing to cover and optimistic about the battle to the Pole that lies ahead. It's part encouraging and part demoralising to read that Shackleton, Scott, Robert Swan and Henry Worsley all struggled with the endless inclines and false summits at this stage of the route, and with the thinner air, colder temperatures and near-constant bitter headwinds that we too are experiencing. We haven't had an easy mile up here yet.

As much as I'd like to say, dear reader, that a day spent gazing through the claustrophobic letterbox slit of my goggles at the spindrift snaking past my ski tips enabled me to enter some transcendent state of consciousness, I'm sad to say that my daydreams kept returning to Lomito's. Lomito's is an American-style diner in Punta Arenas, the city we flew from to reach Antarctica, and they do a fine line in generously-sized burgers and steak sandwiches.

I'm hugely proud of how well our rations are working, and neither Tarka or I would have described ourselves as ravenous at any stage of the expedition so far, but we both have definite cravings: fresh, warm bread with butter, fish pie, ribeye steak, sushi, stew with dumplings, blackberry and apple crumble with custard, giant salads and, of course, the largest burger that Lomito's can rustle up when we're next in Punta.

I'm going to sign off by dedicating today (not a record distance, alas, but one of the toughest we've had yet) to Jerry Colonna, as it's his birthday today. Jerry's one of the wisest, kindest men I've had the pleasure of meeting; a close friend, a trusted coach and mentor, and someone without whose help and sage advice I sincerely doubt I'd be here typing this lying in my tent high on the Antarctic plateau this evening. Thanks Jerry.


# Hilary, December 14th 2013

I believe in you!

# Greg Blount, December 14th 2013

I am loving following your adventures.  Do the almost constant headwinds mean you can look forward to the opposite on the way back?

# Kristoffer, December 14th 2013

Greg, for an answer to your question see my reply to JohnA further down.

# Richard Pierce, December 14th 2013

False summits are summits, nevertheless, and markers on the way forwards. Keep the faith, and keep going. Nearly 18 miles on a sticky surface is no mean distance.

God Speed.


# George Chapman, December 14th 2013

Another day and a great job guys. I for one cannot believe how well this has gone for you. Only two days of delay due to weather and only a day or two of sickness. I’m so glad I have been able to follow your progress every day since the beginning. Another eleven days and you should be at the Pole. I’m figuring you will get there on Christmas Day. You take care of yourself and stay warm.

# cifa, December 14th 2013

thanks for keeping us posted. sounds hectic and those false summits are something else!!

A man takes his Rottweiler to the vet
My dog’s cross-eyed, is there anything you can do for him? ”
“Well,” says the vet, “let’s have a look at him”
So he picks the dog up and examines his eyes, then checks his teeth
Finally, he says “I’m going to have to put him down.”
“What? Because he’s cross-eyed?”
“No, because he’s really heavy”

# Harlan, December 14th 2013

That is a great photo of you two!

# Mal Owen , December 14th 2013

Lovely picture of yourself and your imaginary android mate ! So Cameron, Obama and Thorning-Schmidt aren’t the only ones who indulge in selfies! Love the camera reflections.
Keep up the good work ... The Pole draws nearer every step you take. I Have every confidence in your ability to succeed despite that “Antarctic trifecta of misery”.

# Marcin, December 14th 2013

You are the best!

# Jerry Colonna, December 14th 2013

My dear friend Ben. You honor me with every step you take.  You and Tarka are incredible inspirations for all of us.

# Rebecca Williams, December 14th 2013

Ben - thanks for doing the piece for me on rations and for allowing me to remind you what food you can’t eat - I feel terrible reading today’s blog.  When you return triumphant I will make you that blackberry and apple crumble you crave - I’ll even allow you to have custard and cream!  You are both amazing and are fine examples of what make me incredibly proud to be British - thank you from the bottom of my heart.

# JohnA, December 14th 2013

Does the fact that you’re seemingly always going into a headwind mean the return trip should have favorable winds?

# Kristoffer, December 14th 2013

In short, no, due to the chaotic nature of Antarctica’s winds.  George C. Simpson’s Meteorology Vol.III-Tables shows that, with wind direction and intensity changing throughout the day.

# Raffaele, December 14th 2013

Please Tarka show you,,,,,,,,,,,,,,you deserve it!!!!
Avanti ,avanti avanti.(go,go,go.!!)

# Jason H, December 14th 2013

I’m following you from Ontario, Canada.  I just shoveled my driveway, and that’s about enough snow for me for now :)

May you be light on your feet,

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