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 - Take Two (Day 93)

Day 93: S81° 36' 12", E169° 5' 34.8"

Duration: 9 Hr 30 Min

Daily distance: 24.9 Mi

Distance to go: 295.1 Mi

Temperature: -9 °C

Wind chill: -17 °C

Altitude: 154 Ft

I realised that I'd given a blog post this title two days ago without actually writing about the milestones we're becoming increasingly obsessed by each day. Getting safely to the bottom of the Beardmore and safely through the Gateway on to the Ross Ice Shelf again has been a massive one for a while, then of course there are our string of depots dotted back to Ross Island. Aside from those, we have some arbitrary ones: losing site of the mountains behind us is one at the moment, spotting Minna Bluff, White Island, Dark Island, Erebus and Terror are big ones, and we're counting down each degree of longitude as well. Getting to single-figures as far as remaining days to go will be massive (we think we're 11 days away from finishing as I type this) and right now, getting through each day, 90-minute session by 90-minute session is often as far ahead as we can think. 

Today was colder, with sunshine and patchy cloud when we set off, with the visibility deteriorating to near-zero again in the afternoon, and our morale slumping accordingly. Thankfully the surface has been really good on the Ice Shelf so far - the opposite of what we were expecting, and had been told to expect - and we're ticking along nicely with our light sledges. We're both as tired and as hungry as ever; I know a few people have asked why we're not taking a rest day, and the answer is that a) we don't have a huge amount of spare food until the depot-after-next (and we want to keep what we have spare for emergencies/storms/etc.) and b) we're keen to finish, get home to our loved ones, stuff our faces, have a shower and sleep in a normal bed as soon as we can!


# Heidi, January 26th 2014

Oh,gentlemen, you’ve gone below 300 miles!  Congratulations!  You’ll be stuffing your faces in no time.  Thank heave for modern technology and to receive word that you’re safe and plodding steadily onward.  Warmest hugs from our family in CA.

# Heidi, January 26th 2014

That is, thank heaven!

# Chris, January 26th 2014


# wonderwoman, January 26th 2014

Dear Ben and Tarka, it’s easy to understand you are keen to finish. Now it really takes willpower to keep your mind in the tasks at hand, to be able to do all your daily things carefully and take care of each other. We send you love from Finland and pray for you.

# JonT, January 26th 2014

Almost there!  : D

# Pavol Timko, January 26th 2014

It took 31 days to get to the same spot on the way to Pole. This mean you are 3 times faster now.
I was quie worried reading your blog yesterday it seemed to me you would faint from exhaustion any time but then I checked mileage and it seems you are going very strong. I don’t know if this is just shear willpower or you are so strong (a case for Men In Black to investigate).
Also I was thinking about Scott and his mates a lot recently. I would really like to know if they would be able to complete their journey if there wouldn’t be disappointment from being overrun by Amundsen. We will never find out!

I wish you safe journey to the Scott’s hut and back home then. Thank you for inspiration. Have fun and enjoy as much you can :)

# Mark W, January 26th 2014

Of course Scott left orders for the dogs to meet them, but for a number of reasons this was messed up by those in the hut.
If you want to find out more, read:
Could Captain Scott have been saved? Revisiting Scott’s last expedition, by Karen May.
It was published in the Polar Record 2012.

# Richard Pierce, January 26th 2014

Scott’s failure to get back is open to many interpretations, the main one being that they were using up twice as many calories as they were eating. Karen’s paper is very interesting indeed, though it also includes a fair amount of conjecture, as do all evaluations, simply because none of us who have written about it were there.

I have come up with another explanation in my novel, Dead Men.


# Pavol Timko, January 26th 2014

In this case I try to elaborate on the question to which degree the psyche can change the physical performance. You can see it on any winning team it simply gives more power and endurance. Failure adds wear to the feet.

# Jarda, January 26th 2014

There can be more interpretations of Scott´s failure but the fact is that he gave various and inconsistent orders regarding dog´s team (and at the base camp there was not clear and decisive leadership…).
Scott´s fate would be hardly different, even if Amundsen was not at the Pole first.

# Chris, January 26th 2014

A great distance again and a good post too - after your expression of physical wear in the last few entries (to be totally expected given what prior southern journeys have gone through) I was a little worried, but this was encouraging.  To be below 300 miles, and less than two weeks, is absolutely great.  I am also glad that you guys have GPS, because it is plain from Scott and others’ diaries that a barrier blizzard can strike any time and cause real problems without it.

Also, thank you for being so responsive to and communicative with total strangers on this blog and your YouTube page (the latter prior to you leaving for Chile).  Given your sheer physical effort and harsh environment (especially as you lay freezing in the tent on the plateau) you don’t have to answer our questions or really pay any regard to what we think, but nonetheless you do.  So thank you, it is very engaging and welcome.

Hats off to you guys!

# cristi, January 26th 2014

Counting I can relate to.

I have counted poles marking the trail of a mountain running event, breaths taken on the final 2 K to a mountain hut in waist deep snow, people I pass by in the park, steps I take in one Km (440 at 6 minutes pace), anything to shorten the gap towards the finish line.

But what you’re doing is beyond anything I can imagine.
I can’t count that high.

As they say on the final stretch when you’re already beyond spent: “Keep going, you’re almost there!”

# Janet Stanley, January 26th 2014

Can well imagine how your hours are marked by milestones….3 months on the ice, what an achievement for you both, great mileage again, onward , please stay safe :)

# Jim mclean, January 26th 2014

Your stories are inspirational, the finishing line is in sight, but no less hard work for you, keep,safe and god speed to Scott’s hut. All of the Mclean family in Tarland, where it is snowing today!

# Enrico, January 26th 2014

You are reaching, these days, the last camp of Scott, Bowers and Wilson: what are you thinking about it? Thanks for all.

# Pavol Timko, January 26th 2014

Isn’t it 100 miles further? What is your source for coords?

# Richard Pierce, January 26th 2014

Dear Ben, dsear Tarka,

At one point yesterday, watching the tracker, I thought that you were faltering. In the end, the distance you made is nothing short of amazing.

Thanks for your rational and valid explanation about the rest day and the depots. That doesn’t stop us from worrying about you, though.

Sometimes, when I get caught up in the difficulty of parenting four children, I wish for a challenge as pure as yours, as physical as yours, but then I realise that your venture is just as complex as my sometimes despairing venture into parenting, and that challenges are set before us to test us, to compel us to do things we might otherwise never have done. And so your journey is not just for yourselves, not just for history nor posterity, but to show that selflessness is within the grasp of human nature, at its most pure and noble.

Not far to go, and yet infinitely far to go, for you, for me, for us all.

Go well.


# Intrepid, January 26th 2014

Richard - consider what embeds itself layer after layer (present in everything), is part of all action and non-action regardless, and whose structure can be of any magnitude. This is the nature of participation.

# Susan from Michigan, January 26th 2014

Although most of us would like you to have a rest day, we can understand your decision to keep going. The fact that you are so close to home will keep you going. I send you strength and warmth from the states!! We are all so inspired by both of you!! Good job!!!

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