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.

My Turn for a Turn (Day 73)

Day 73: S87° 44' 55.44", E159° 21' 32.4"

Duration: 0 Hr

Daily distance: 0 Mi

Distance to go: 742.7 Mi

Temperature: -29 °C

Wind chill: -37 °C

Altitude: 10079 Ft

Apologies for the late update. As you might have spotted, we haven't moved today (5th January) and there's been a bit more drama and suffering than I was expecting. We set off for our mid-plateau depot yesterday morning feeling relatively strong and well-rested, but mid-way through the morning I started to feel quite ill and nauseaous, with stomach cramps that seemed to be accentuated by the tugging of my sled harness as we skied through lumpy fields of sastrugi.

The rations we received in the resupply were brilliant, but contained a lot of sugary gels and chewy energy 'blocks' compared to the food we've eaten for ten weeks, and I think I started to suffer from what a sports scientist or nutritionist would call impaired gastric emptying; I simply wasn't processing the calories I was putting in my mouth. It was a vicious cycle as the day went on and I felt weaker and weaker at the same time as the temperature started to drop and the wind (thankfully coming at our backs) became stronger. With about an hour to go until we reached the depot I realised I wasn't warming up after our break, but reasoned that we'd soon be in the tent and I could warm up then. What followed was my first ever experience of hypothermia, and not something I'm keen to repeat in a hurry. 

Tarka was in the lead when we reached the depot, and finding it (marked with a spare ski sticking out of the snow and a long streamer of fabric flapping in the wind) was a piece of cake, as we'd picked up our old tracks halfway through the day so didn't need to refer to our GPS. Tarka stopped to dig up our food and supplies and I skied on for a hundred metres or so to start pitching the tent, but realised when I stopped just how chilled and lethargic I was becoming. I don't remember an awful lot of the evening that followed, but thankfully Tarka was firing on all cylinders and made sure I was in my sleeping bag with a hot drink and a hot meal before I conked out with the most profound feeling of listless exhaustion I've ever experienced. I slept like a log but was still pretty spaced-out this morning, so we decided to stay put and recover properly for a day before carrying on. 

After spending the day in my sleeping bag, dozing, drinking and eating, and after a reassuring conversation with our doctor, Rob Conway, I'm now feeling back to my old self this evening and much stronger. The two of us are both very lean, with next-to-no body fat for insulation any more, and if we mess up our calorie intake - as I did yesterday - it's alarming how susceptible we are to the cold, and how quickly the situation can become serious, especially up here above 3,000 metres.

We've also had the chance to catch up a little personal admin and start sending some higer res photos and video back now we've picked up our Pilot. Today's photo is of us at the South Pole last week. 

If all goes to plan, we should only have another eight days on the high plateau before we start to descend quite rapidly, and I'm looking forward to seeing the mountains again, and to enjoying a little more oxygen in the air. Last up, tonight marks a bit of a threshold for me: it'll be my 73rd consecutive night living in a tent on an expedition, and my current record (set when I skied solo to the North Pole in 2004) is 72 nights, so it'll be another step into uncharted territory, pushing the outer limits of sleeping bag hygiene...


# torsten richter, January 6th 2014

Good Luck !!!!

# CaninesCashews, January 6th 2014

Hi guys,
What a great partnership you guys have - some polar expeditions have really suffered because of strained relationships on the ice. This is definitely not the case here.
You are a team in the real sense of the word – borne out of a friendship that I imagine has only grown stronger through your training and is now paying off in the frozen days (and nights) of Antarctica.
Seventy three nights in a tent – I think it must be good to have personal goals along the way wrapped into the expedition. Accomplishments to keep you energised.
Hope your stomach settles today and I look forward to the photos.
Stay safe,

# Jennie Hale, January 6th 2014

Pure inspiration.

# Andrea Topi, January 6th 2014

Good to hear from you, guys. And to know that Tarka is firing at all cylinders in full android power :-) ...  stay safe,  and Dr. Conway, keep in touch with these guys very frequently please.
My best wishes.

# Rob Conway, January 6th 2014

As ever, will keep and eye on you two. Head down, keep plodding, glory (or at least some clean socks) await :)

# Helena, January 6th 2014

Good to hear from you, you are doing just great. I think of you all the time. We are with you, friends from Brno, Czech Republic.

# wonderwoman, January 6th 2014

You had us all worried again, but thankfully the situation seems better again. I hope and believe the worst part is almost over now. A few more days and you will feel better, when you descend. We send you love and hope, so you can keep on fighting. Your friendship and companion will make you able to do it.

# Ian mc, January 6th 2014

Keep going guys! Great blog.

# Mia Bentley, January 6th 2014

Hi Boys

It looks like you have both been having some trying times! Every step you take is another one into history. Your smart moves will allow you to tell the story of this epic adventure for many years to come and I am lucky to be able to say that my big brother really is a hero.

Tarks - It dawned on me when I read the post yesterday which mentioned the video messages, that I had not made one (nor knew that I could) but also that I had not said goodbye and good luck to you in the same way I would have had I realized what an incredible and life changing journey you were both about to embark on. Like so often as we were growing up you said you were just off to play. I hope this message gets to you and you know how incredibly proud I am of what you have achieved. I might even go to say that you are a remarkable example to follow.  In this New Year you have refreshed my faith in believing that I can achieve anything I want if I try hard enough. 
Look after each other as you have been doing and smile on your way back at the thought that you two are making an inspirational mark in history.
Memy x

# Matt, January 6th 2014

Good job guys. My thoughts are with you sending warm prayers be careful and continue on at a safe pace.

# Rosie Vidovix Unsworth, January 6th 2014

H. G. Wells said ‘If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.’
Looking forward to more adventures Ben and Tarka.

# Štěpán Hnyk, January 6th 2014

I am glad you are both up and running again. Let’s hope you are done with the bitter and the journey will be less dramatic from now on. May Antarctica treat you with good weather and smooth surface. And then just hop on your sleds and enjoy the ride down the Beardmore ;-)

# rajesh, January 6th 2014

God bless you both, wish you good luck

# Leigh Phillips , January 6th 2014

I normally pick up your blog on my phone during my work commute so don’t have access to Google earth to check your progress. Stay on your epic journey.

# Uncle Pete, January 6th 2014

Gentlemen, as you have demonstrated you clearly are, thanks for the brilliant hi-res shot from the Pole, a magnificent achievement in its own right!
Remember, Tarka, how your Great Uncle Bill redefined his own original solo-round- the -world- nonstop voyage in the face of adversity from the elements and still achieved a First. Hopefully you have spent the day resting and stuffing yourself with more familiar fare from your buried stash and will build up your strength and energy for a safe descent of the Beardmore. My guess is that you would very quickly see the benefit of increased Oxygen on the descent but, as always, take care of each other and remember we want you safely home. Best wishes and admiration,your Uncle Pete.

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