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.

Milestones (Day 91)

Day 91: S82° 18' 31.2", E169° 27' 27"

Duration: 9 Hr

Daily distance: 24.8 Mi

Distance to go: 344.2 Mi

Temperature: -5 °C

Wind chill: -11 °C

Altitude: 157 Ft

Andy (our expedition manager) emailed us a selection of a couple of dozen recent comments from the blog. We're on such a tight schedule of skiing, blogging, eating and sleeping here (and so zonked) that we don't have time to read them all at the moment, sadly, but I'm a) staggered at the interest and support we're getting, and b) feeling guilty for writing such short posts lately. We're hugely grateful for each and every comment, and I can't wait to read them all when I'm back in the land of wifi, coffee and cake, probably in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Today was, as you can probably guess, another challenging one. The weather was fine this morning but it clouded over in the afternoon and we found ourselves again trudging through a very flat light towards a faint grey horizon that we'd never reach. The hardest bit by far, though, is getting up in the mornings. We're waking up progressively more tired each day and getting out of a cozy sleeping bag to do nine hours of skiing with a sledge in tow is taking every ounce of determination and self-discipline we have.

We're constantly hungry too, and this Winnie the Pooh quote from the recent comments (thanks Sue and Noodle!) sums up our current mindset to a tee: 'When you wake up in the morning,Pooh,' said Piglet at last, 'what's the first thing you say to yourself ?. 'What's for breakfast ? ' said Pooh. 'What do you say, Piglet?' 'I say I wonder what's going to happen exciting to-day?' said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughtfully. 'It's the same thing,' he said.

Last up, for your amusement, I've sent back a tent 'selfie' featuring my 91-day beard. 

And I'll finish by answering a good question from Jim:

Q) Physically, how do you plan to re-adjust after a gruelling experience like this? How different does it feel now that you are in a lower altitude?

A) Tarka and I talk about this a lot, and while we don't have a definite plan, we both think we could sleep for twice as much as we are at the moment (averaging five to six hours per night out here) and we can both reel off vast fantasy food lists of all the things we're going to devour when we get back to civilisation. Perhaps strangely, I'm looking forward to doing some 'normal' exercise again - running, cycling, weight training - as we've become hopelessly imbalanced and weak when it comes to anything except plodding at a moderate speed dragging a sledge. I'm also planning a few weeks of 'rehab' at the hands of Balance Physio in London (and my excellent massage therapist Kellie), with Putney Chiropractic Clinic (and the excellent Dr. Craig) and possibly also throwing in some accupuncture (I've never tried it), a bit of yoga and a few other things. As far as being back at sea level goes (well, 24 metres above it this evening) the difference is phenomenal. We both found ourselves frequently short of breath above 3,000m on the plateau, which obviously isn't an issue down here. It's a great deal warmer too, and we've gone from windchill in the minus 30s and 40s to ambient temperatures barely below freezing and windchill that's rarely in double figures, so life is far more pleasant and we no longer have to prise our frozen face masks away from our iced-up beards before getting into our sleeping bags in the evening...


# Richard Pierce, January 24th 2014

You need a rest day. Trust me.

Acupuncture is brfilliant. I wouldn’t be walking if it weren’t for acupuncture, never mind all the other stupid stuff I get up to nowadays at the tender age of 53.

Stop the guilt. Focus on yourselves.

Trust me. You need a rest day.


# dj, January 24th 2014

Richard… you really think they’ll listen to you?  Well, to you maybe!  Four months without a scheduled rest - not something any “science” people I know would let go without a challenge.

# Richard Pierce, January 24th 2014


I hope they’ll listen to me, although I don’t think they will, because, at this rate, they’ll work themselves to a standstill. The ice shelf is not without its dangers, and they need to be awake to deal with anything untoward.


# Phil Satoor, January 24th 2014

Perhaps they don’t want to take a rest day because they’re concerned about running short of food again?

# Richard Pierce, January 24th 2014

Good point. Although they did just pick up a depot yesterday or the day before (time is blurring for me here, too, even though I’m not on the Ice). R

# Tim, January 24th 2014

You are exactly right, they need more sleep but Phil may also be right.  One way that I am sure they have thought about is just doing everything else that they are doing now every day but sleep an extra 2 hours every day.  Do this by extending there “day” to a 26 hour day instead of a 24 hour day.  They don’t have to worry about loosing daylight (until fall at least) and they have nothing else keeping them on a 24 hour day do they?  I don’t think that any readers will care when the blog comes out 2 hours later each blog.  We can just get over that.

Anyway, just a thought that I am sure they have entertained in the past…

# Kat, January 24th 2014

I confess, Richard, that the last few weeks, I started to picture the lads on the ice as women labouring to deliver a baby, and how they must get very bored of hearing us all telling them the Antarctic equivalent to “breathe” or “relax” or “focus” or whatever labour coaches tell them.  I’ve often marvelled that women don’t haul off and deck the kind folk who are exorting them to “push” with advice, especially since we’re not the one who’s going through the experience.  The lads are also incredibly experienced in these situations and must be very mentally tough, in a way that may be hard for us to understand. Anyway, this comment may sound overly critical, and not light-hearted, but I meant it that way.  ;-)

Ben and Tarka, all the best for smooth running all the way to the coast!

# Intrepid, January 24th 2014

Interesting idea Tim. I would guess the concept has been well thought through. Deferring to Richard (Richard - have there been any expeditions to Antarctica that have actually employed a 26 or any hour day?). Diving into waters I know not of, my guess is that during extreme endurance tests, sticking with a routine until the very last moment provides an automated motivation, taking the body further than the potential of inertia which would have room to operate in a less structured environment.

Psychologically, it is a human tendency to fear the unknown and want certainty.  Ben and Tarka’s expedition is of course an extreme situation which actually requires even more certainty (rather than the focus on experiences related to how to live with uncertainty). Again, I’m just guessing…. it is probably best for them to stay within the bounds of a routine where everyone on the support team and home knows their schedule, as well as (and in particular), their body’s need to have the routine of knowing what to expect.

# Richard Pierce, January 24th 2014

Folks and folkesses,

Sorry I’m late responding. I’ve been up in London all day working and connectivity is pretty rubbish at the best of times.

I didn’t think any of your comments were critical of me, so rest easy.

I’m not sure I’m worth deferring to, though I have not come across any expeditions working on a 26-hour or any other hour day.

Let me just explain something, which I have tried before, privately and publicly, to explain to the much-maligned and missed Kristoffer: I’m irrational. My responses, here on this blog, and in all areas of my life, are primeval and visceral. I don’t think before I speak or write; I just speak or write. Perhaps that is the main reason for me being spectacularly unsuccessful, commercially, be that writing or otherwise.

It may well be that B&T are working to a plan; it may well be that they have a rest day scheduled that we know nothing about; it may well be that routine is the maker of us all in perfection and imperfection (it certainly applies to getting a wife and four children out of the house efficiently in the mornings). But all that’s irrelevant to my senses, to my impulses, to my irrationality.

It may well be that B&T have a plane to catch, or a ship to catch, that won’t wait for them beyond a certain date. It may well be that they’re worrying about sea ice conditions as far as getting back to the hut at Cape Evans is concerned. But that’s irrelevant to me when I think about the dangers that can lie on the Ross Shelf; it’s irrelevant to the man in me who recalls what lay at 79’52"S and is now drifting northwards under 30 metres of snow. It’s irrelevant to my intuition which says damn logic and take a beak before you break down and can’t be retrieved.

That’s all.

This blog, this community, is one of the best things that’s happened to me over the last few years, because it speaks to me again of dignity, striving and integrity. Even the critics, whom we must acknowledge and praise, have spoken eloquently, regardless of whether or not we have agreed with them. What will become of us all when this expedition is over, we don’t know. Let’s hope we continue to communicate and share.

All best,


# DarcyPDX, January 25th 2014

You actually “bear” quite a resemblance to Pooh with your ginger fur!  Seriously, is there a prevailing wind pattern?  It seems like if it is blowing it is usually blowing towards you.  I had hoped that when you turned at the pole that the wind would be a help.  An Intellite who is proud to know that we’ve made your journey accessible to the world.

# dj, January 24th 2014

Won’t be long now. Keep your mind from lingering needlessly on what you don’t have.  What can you realistically do, that you’re not already doing with what you’ve got around you and do IT instead - taking a few more photos come’s to mind.  Also just wondering, why did your Pilot conk out and not transmit five of your waypoints today?


# Andy, January 24th 2014

Hi DJ,
I asked Ben to make sure his tracking beacon had a full charge last night so hopefully it won’t drop any points today. .

# wonderwoman, January 24th 2014

Dear Ben and Tarka, thank you for the post and the picture, once again. It’s a relief to know that your living conditions are a bit easier now. You don’t look bad at all! Don’t worry about short posts; it’s the meaning and style of the words that counts, not how many they are. We are amazed you are able to write at all , working so long hours there. We send you love from Finland and pray for your safe return.

# Ian McNee , January 24th 2014

Hi Ben,
How are you leaving. Via Chile I guess, but is it a day there then straight back to the uk or eg, few weeks out there in South America.

# Scott Expedition Team, January 24th 2014

Hi Ian, yes, the plan is to come back via Chile. Timing will depend on weather / when they actually finish.

# Jackson, January 24th 2014

I have been tracking your quest since your TED speech and never posted before. I join all the others in praising your accomplishments.  They are quite tremendous!
I just wanted to add that your endeavors to fulfill Captain Scott’s trip have brought greater honor and respect to his name. You see, I grew up with this perspective that Scott made a number of unforgivable mistakes and was well…a fool (especially when compared to the successes of his contemporaries). Yet, in describing daily the many hard challenges you both have faced I have much more empathy, compassion and respect for Capt. Scott. For if some of the best prepared, trained, equipped and fed men today are facing such conditions and hardships, so much more unforeseen challenges must Scott and his men faced.

Wishing you the greatest success, praying daily for your safety, looking forward to the fulfillment of your dreams.

# Richard Pierce, January 24th 2014

Thanks for posting, Jackson. A very interesting view. Unfortunately, much misinformation about Scott abounds, as it does about Amundsen. If you have time, read David Crane’s excellent and extremely objective biography of Captain Scott.


# DaveT, January 24th 2014

(My first post too - though have been following since Pole attained). Re Scott misinformation - as Richard says, sadly there has much ‘debunking’ stuff written about him which has unfortunately done much to damage his reputation. It turns out that much of the ‘evidence’ for these views are based on biased speculation rather than hard evidence. Another good book that seeks to set the record straight is ‘Captain Scott’ by Ranulph Fiennes - another author who has experienced polar conditions himself - unlike the debunkers!

# Andrea, January 24th 2014

Of course, this is one of the concequences indeed, for who forgets that this looks like a dangerous march pursued with absent intermediary bases that, instead, exist in the climbing march.

# Richard Pierce, January 24th 2014

A note of caution. Fiennes’ book is motivated purely by his hatred (justified, in my opinion) of Huntford, the main debunker, which is why I don’t see it as an objective work. That’s why I’ve suggested Crane, who has no axe whatsoever to grind (and who actually writes better than Huntford or Fiennes).

Speaking as someone who has been out there (and, just to clarify, never did any man-hauling or dangerous stuff), the debunkers do lack the appreciation of how difficult and wild a continent the Antarctic is. They also fail to point out the significant errors in judgment Amundsen made.

For me, Crane is superior to any other book written about Scott, save The Worst Journey in the World.

Naturally, my novel takes some liberties with the present day, but my interpretation of the events in 1911/12 is as valid as anyone else’s.


# Chris Wood, January 24th 2014

I agree, a rest day, and what the heck, double rations, your pace has been incredible and you understandably look and sound totally knackered, and you’ve earned it. Now you’re starting to look like someone Billy’s mum hurriedly pulls her kid across the road from on the walk to school! Do mums still walk kids to school? If the pretty dreadful math I now remember from school is right you are days ahead of your 110 soft target. It’ll look silly if you save the extra rations for the plane ride back to Punta.

I feel like the devil on your shoulder..! Stay safe anyway.

# Rich&Ione;, January 24th 2014

If - the 24 hour daylight would not interfere with a long sleep; and
If - your supplies allow you sufficient latitude for a day of double or even triple breakfasts; and
If you both have the patience to delay the trip to the cafe;
Then why not take a day to sleep more than 5 or 6 hours, eat til you satisfy the pangs of hunger, and read all the comments on each blog (although that could take more than the allotted day).
We will all still be here at the end of the journey and won’t begrudge you a day’s delay.
Looking forward to a selfie of Tarka so we can think of some good comparative captions.

# Richard Pierce, January 24th 2014

Oh, quick thought that struck me while out running yesterday, although you may already do this. Wear your neck gaiters (or something similar) as blindfolds when you’re trying to sleep. It worked for me when I was out there in the 24-hour daylight.


# Lydia, January 24th 2014

Wow Ben another cracking day.  You are doing amazingly well, it must be such a relief to be on the flat with higher temperatures, perhaps with less layers on.  I was wondering if you have another clean pair of socks to look forward to. I am also wondering what your first cup of tea will taste like - perhaps you will need to wait until you get back to Blighty for that.  I am also wondering if you will be able to sleep in a soft comfortable bed or if you will, Crocodile Dundee style, have to revert to the floor.  I wonder what it will be like when you hook up with your backup team and family for the first time, so many emotions and what us followers will do when this blog is turned off, I for one will no doubt always wonder what you and Tarka are up to, what crazy adventure you are planning.
Take care, be safe.
Lydia x

# Jon Trusler, January 24th 2014

Only a couple of weeks remaining! (+- a day or two)  You’ve traveled over 1450 miles so far and there is only a little more to go!  :D

# Janet Stanley, January 24th 2014

Great selfie, looking very much the part of hardened explorer which of course you are…can well imagine the agony of leaving the warm sleeping bag, I feel that way most mornings here in the U.K! Do not beat your self up re. The length of the blog, as wonder woman so rightly said it is the quality that counts & you have that in spades…so hoping you write a book!  Great mileage again, please stay safe :)

# Mal Owen, January 24th 2014

You’re looking good for 91 days of torture.  It seems you forgot your hairbrush for the selfie though ! Not once have I questioned the length of your blogposts ... quality, not quantity and all that.  You should make time for a lie-in to ensure no mishaps and an easier plod towards the ‘normal exercise’and ‘fantasy foods.’

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