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.

Making Progress (Day 23)

Day 23: S79° 53' 5.16", E168° 37' 24.48"

Duration: 8 Hr

Daily distance: 12.1 Mi

Distance to go: 1627.3 Mi

Temperature: -13 °C

Wind chill: -27 °C

Altitude: 220 Ft

A tough, tough day today but, as Tarka pointed out as I started melting snow in the tent this evening, we can't complain too much in public as our suffering is entirely self-inflicted. We scored just over 12 miles (10.5 nautical miles) for our eight hours of toil today, which we're pretty pleased with. The wind has died down a little, but we're still heading straight into it, so it's been another day with our faces entirely covered.

I'm sad to have missed the premiere of Al Humphreys' film, Into the Empty Quarter, at the Royal Geographical Society in London this evening. Amusingly Al gave us a copy on an SD card so we'll be watching it in the tent before too long.

As promised, a bit about depots: as we're walking to the South Pole and back along exactly the same route, it makes sense for us to depot food and fuel along the outward journey so we can ski from cache to cache with lighter sleds on the return. The strategy we came up with was to leave smaller depots early on - ours have been of two days' food each at the moment, then one at the foot of the Beardmore Glacier, another at the top, and at least one halfway across the Plateau. We anticipate leaving seven in total, and each depot is sealed in a drybag, buried, and marked with a 1.5m carbon fibre pole (which is also tied to the drybag) with a black flag in the top, and is recorded as a GPS waypoint, which I also write in my diary as a backup, and relay to Andy (who is finally back in the UK after being stuck on the Chilean side of Antarctica for three weeks waiting for a weather window to fly home!).

Some of you with eagle eyes spotted in a recent photo that we've also depoted the rear sections of our sleds. We did this seven days ago as we were at a point where we could fit all our equipment, food and fuel into just the main section of the sleds, and it makes sense to reduce all of the extraneous weight (the rear section of each sled was ~4kg) we have to drag daily so we made the decision to do this sooner than we had originally thought it would be possible to do so. (The rear sections fit inside the back of the main sleds when we pick them up again.) The good news is as our sleds become lighter we'll begin to cover more miles daily speeding up our progress to, and back from, the South Pole.

If, for whatever reason, we're unable to pick up our depots on the return journey early next year, ALE (our logistics provider) are aware of the coordinates of each one and will pick them up for us using a Twin Otter ski plane. We've already paid ALE a bond to cover the cost of this, and wouldn't have been able to start the expedition if we didn't have the funds in place to do this. As a private expedition we need a permit to operate in Antarctica (in fact we have two, we operate under ALE's US permit and we were also permitted by the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office to visit the Terra Nova and Discovery huts on Ross Island) and part of the approval process is proving that we are leaving no waste in Antarctica, and that our journey will have no lasting environmental impact.

Last up, we've been inundated with hundreds of quesitons (it's fantastic to see your wonderful messages of support - thank you). We can't promise to answer them all as we're rather busy dragging sleds, and pretty exhausted every evening, but we'll certainly answer a selection each week. The team in London are also busy going through them and will pop a post up shortly with more on this.

Thank you once again for all your support.


# Mal Owen, November 17th 2013

Excellent progress….that wind won’t last .
You guys have certainly opened my eyes to the world of adventure… I never realised quite how many modern day adventurers there were out there, and at age 63 on Wednesday I wish I’d become one of them! No matter,  I will continue to share in yours and now a few others along the way… How easy it is with the internet to be a couch explorer!  Yesterday I watched F. Aston’s reaction at the end of her journey and wondered what yours will be when you get there…. one of those magical moments for you to treasure.
By the way, did you manage to shave any weight off from the SD card?

# George Chapman, November 17th 2013

Glad to see your doing well today and that your forward progress is improving. I’m so glad to see these post from you each day. Stay warm and have a nice day on the bottom of the World. Nice Photo also.

Following you on FB and Google Earth from sunny Central Florida U.S.A. Todays temperature 69ºF at 8:00 AM EST.

To see a live cam from McMurdo Station
Click here:

# dj, November 17th 2013

Thanks George… I’ve been hunting for this link for weeks and couldn’t remember where I saw it last.  FYI - the Scott Expedition Google Earth Resource File has now been updated to include these links for both the McMurdo and South Pole stations, as well as annotated trails for the historic Admundsen, Shakleton and Scott Expeditions -  available at:

# Kristoffer, November 17th 2013

Yep, dj, that time it worked!  I can now see the annotated journeys.  Though you misspelled Amundsen’s name as “Admundsen”.

# Caninescashews, November 17th 2013

Hi guys,
Even with the wind at your face you’ve managed to knock off 12 miles so don’t be too hard on yourself!
Thanks for the info about the depots all very interesting.  Particularly about being able to drop off the rear of the sled sooner than you thought, which I hope helps out a bit.
Glad to hear that Andy is finally back in the UK after his 3 week Chilean ‘excursion’ :-)
Stay safe.

# Joe, November 17th 2013

Good to hear about the depots - although I am surprised you would leave such small caches of 2 days food ?  How many are you leaving at the base of the beardmore? As an wannabe mathematician I am intrigued about the weight / distance / weather velocity etc. What is your current weight load? On day 21 you mentioned you were still dragging 170kg - ?Will the logistics company also be collecting your sled ends if necessary ? Another follower mentioned the weather website which is excellent. Comparing y o y you have been blessed so far! Good luck - look forward to further updates.

# Jack G, November 17th 2013

Will Tarka be writing any blogs? It would also be great to hear from your Sponsors about their support.

# Adam, November 17th 2013

Just think, a headwind on the way there means a tailwind on the way back!

Keep up the great work guys.

# Claudia Tynes, November 17th 2013

Congratulations are pushing through! Think of you guys every night when I climb into my soft, warm bed.

# sarah, November 17th 2013

sounds like a good day, increasing progress and any pain totally self inflicted :-)(as you pointed out yourselves!) .  It’s turned cold here in blighty and apparently there may even be sleet this week!  Keep safe and carry on the yomp to the beardmore glacier.

# dj, November 17th 2013

As I comment your “GPS dot” is on the 80 degree line and you are pretty much abeam the Byrd Glacier (if you could see it over the horizon) which puts you now on the Shackleton Coast. Lets hope it treats you a bit more tenderly than the Hillary Coast has until now. And, according to “the Google” you should be running across the Schwerdtfeger weather station to your left.

Here’s to 81!

# Joe, November 17th 2013

Did you have to agree the depot co-ordinates before you left - as I am guessing your logistics organisers (ALE) have to know they can land if they need to collect anything from the ice shelves? you day you are leaving 7 - and have mentioned 4 locations so far - have you planned the additional 3 already?
Your pace seems to have increased remarkably - and I believe almost up to your day 1 rate ( when you weren’t dragging any weight) with good conditions - is there a reason for that. Thanks . Joe

# Kristoffer, November 17th 2013

I do wonder about the sudden increase in speed as well.  It should be noted that Ben is incorrect (unless he wrote the following statement 3 days ago) when he states that the rear sections of the sledges were detached 3 days ago, as the photo from the day 17 blog post ( clearly shows that the rear sections had been detached no later than day 17.

# Willie, November 17th 2013

Great mileage today Ben and Tarka. I would have thought that the fact that you are now dragging less weight (as stated in today’s Depot blog) and are on the ski’s for an extra 2 hours a day, and that you have bedded into the harnesses and kit, should explain the increased distance. Hey guys,wind in your face on the way there, equals on the but on the way home. Keep up the miles, the smiles will come. Willie

# Scott Expedition Team, November 17th 2013

Thanks Kristoffer. Good spot. We’ll update the typo now. He has indeed been drafting over the last few days and it should read 7 days. As has always been the case, and as you’ve seen Ben and Tarka have been gradually speeding up over the last few days and will continue to as they get further into their journey. In Ben’s own words, day 23 was a ‘tough tough day’. It’s testament to their toil that they covered such distance.

# Nick, November 17th 2013

When you get back you’ll be in time for the Premier of Noah film.

Worth it in the end.  Maybe a free car off Land Rover (Luxury I think, compared to ski’s)

# Karen, November 17th 2013

A joy to see your wonderful photograph of such blue sky when today was the
most dismal of grey days in the UK.  You guys are a true inspiration to us all
and you deserve every success in this journey.  Thank you for sharing it with us
and don’t worry about answering all the questions as you need to keep some surprises for your book!

# Jane, November 17th 2013

I have been following your expedition since the very beginning , from the frozen North in Canada.  Maybe not quite as cold as you both are but I can relate.  I am wondering why there has been no publicity of any sort except for You Tube etc about the expedition.  I would have thought that that it warranted at least a mere mention on the BBC.  Half the people I know are not even aware that it is going on.  I am enthralled by the whole adventure and hope that someone will mention it eventually on the media.  Take care and good sking

# Scott Expedition Team, November 18th 2013

Great to hear you’re enjoying following. It has been covered several times by the BBC over the last five months and in other media. The more the better though so please do join with us in continuing to spread the word.

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