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.

Not Much Easier (Day 27)

Day 27: S80° 39' 34.02", E168° 49' 21.9"

Duration: 8 Hr

Daily distance: 14.6 Mi

Distance to go: 1573.7 Mi

Temperature: -17 °C

Wind chill: -23 °C

Altitude: 213 Ft

Greg Lemond, the first American Tour de France winner, once said of racing bicycles as a professional that (and I may be paraphrasing slightly here) "It never gets easier, you just go faster". And so it goes in the world of professional sled-draggers too.

I found today pretty tough and struggled against my harness like an aging donkey, cursing the headwind, and at times even my own stupidity for thinking this was a good idea. Tarka, as always, soldiers on like a cross between a bionic Birdie Bowers and Dolph Lundgren, which of course is why I asked him to be my team mate. The word indefatigable was invented for Tarka, he has the heart and lungs of a racehorse, each thigh is a tree trunk, and his brain is a computer that processes complex calculations involving latitude, longitude and average speeds with alarming accuracy.

Once again we've hit a record distance (more than 14 miles) and I'm hoping this streak will continue. The weather was very odd today, with sunshine almost all of the time but an astonishing range of temperatures and wind speed and direction that had us juggling layers of clothing and mittens, gloves, hats, masks and headbands. At some points I was wearing almost everything I had, yet for half an hour this afternoon I skied in still, sweltering sunshine in just my base layer.

We saw mountains a long way off to our right (pretty much due west) possibly the Churchill Mountains or the Britannia Range, blown out of proportion and distorted vertically by mirages. We should start seeing more land in the coming days as we trundle closer to Mount Hope, the Gateway and the Beardmore Glacier. Stay tuned...

P.S. we were asked if we eat snow - today's picture is of me melting snow that would a few minutes later go into rehydrating this evening's dinner, chicken dhansak (thanks Fuizion!)


# Richard Pierce, November 21st 2013

Cracking stuff. It may not get easier, but the distances will get longer and seem shorter. God Speed. R

# CaninesCashews, November 21st 2013

Wow what a great mileage - well done guys - long may it continue.
Rewatched the ‘Why Bother Leaving the House’ TED Talk yesterday evening, try and remember your Mallory quote when you’re struggling against your harness, “What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy.”

# Volguus Zildrohoar, November 21st 2013

Congrats on crossing 80 south! The mirages you are seeing that are distorting the distant terrain are known as fata morgana…saw lots of them when I was stationed at McMurdo. Keep chugging along and good luck to you on the rest of your journey!

# Mal Owen, November 21st 2013

Impressive mileage today .... Could’ve done with some of those layers here in the UK.
Do you have any of the desserts with you or just savoury meals ? FD 21 looks good to me.

# Scott Expedition Team, November 25th 2013

No desserts - but they do have Green & Blacks 85% dark chocolate as part of their daily rations.

# Paul Cedar, November 21st 2013

Yours are the only human footprints or ski tracks in that desolate place. I think it’s quite likely that you’ll encounter many of your own tracks on the way back. What do you think?  Since you left the coastal area, have you seen any signs of life? Do any birds fly over to check you out?  Do you observe any planes or weather balloons flying overhead?

Awesome mileage today! My ESL students here in China are following your journey and cheering at your daily success!

# Janet Stanley, November 21st 2013

Love the analogy cross between Birdie Bowers & Dolph Lundgren! Your updates are great, stay safe & positive :)

# KM Frost, November 21st 2013

Great mileage!  Great writing!  I love it…Tarka’s a “cross between a bionic Birdie Bowers and Dolph Lundgren”.  That’s the guy you want along for the trip! Looking forward to hearing a post from him at some point. Best thoughts….

# Charles Simpson, November 21st 2013

Amazing progress again - keep it going guys. Hoping the weather holds for you.
I’ve had lots of my pupils at school checking your progress too. They all think its pretty amazing.
So we’re all wishing you godspeed and the very best of British luck :)

# John Matthews, November 21st 2013

it must be a huge moral boost to start pounding out those half marathons.

I have a question for tarka, what camera are you using and did it need any mods to cope with the weather?


# Christopher Swift, November 21st 2013

Well done lads, keep it up. I’m living vicariously through all your posts, an amazing adventure.

# Kristoffer, November 21st 2013

“The weather was very odd today, with sunshine almost all of the time but an astonishing range of temperatures and wind speed and direction that had us juggling layers of clothing and mittens, gloves, hats, masks and headbands.”
This is exactly what I was talking about when I commented to say that a head wind on the inward journey did not mean a tail wind on the return journey.  Thanks for illustrating that, Ben.

# Offroading Home, November 21st 2013

The mountains you see through the mirages are indeed the Churchill Mountains. You are now about 25 miles past the Byrd Glacier which is the demarcation between the Britannia Range and the Churchill Mountains. It’s also the demarcation between the Hillary Coast and the Shackleton Coast; AND, as far as I can tell, it’s where you “lost” so much of your “drag” and your daily mileage took a big jump.  Almost as if it was fighting against the Byrd Ice Stream [3.8-4.0 inches per hour] or something which was giving you grief. (Perhaps coincidence?)

Parenthetically, the Byrd is one of the largest and fastest-flowing glaciers in Antarctica and they now know that “it can undergo short-lived, but significant changes in flow speed in response to the draining of two large sub-glacial lakes located in its catchment.”

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