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.

Old Tracks (Day 96)

Day 96: S80° 33' 18", E168° 47' 36"

Duration: 9 Hr 30 Min

Daily distance: 24.8 Mi

Distance to go: 222.7 Mi

Temperature: -14 °C

Wind chill: -17 °C

Altitude: 200 Ft

The weather this morning, to our surprise, was corking, with blue skies, hardly any wind and only a few streaks of cloud loitering around. It was colder too, and the the combination of sun and chill seemed to make the surface quite sandy and gritty, which slowed us down a bit. Captain Scott seemed obsessed by surface and glide, and with their wooden and metal sledge runners that apparently needed constant attention and de-icing, I can understand why. Even our carbon and kevlar composite sledges (with runners made of some sort of low-friction plastic) seemed a great deal heavier today, like some gremlin had been filling them with rocks while we slept.

The weather started clouding over towards the end of our today, though we never lost the surface contrast completely and we were amazed to stumble across our two-month-old outbound tracks in the early evening, following them for the last two sessions and camping next to them tonight. They're raised clear of the surface, like railway lines, and while they've been blasted away by the wind or hidden by drift or low patches of sastrugi in places, they're easy to follow and make navigating a piece of cake.

Mentally, today wasn't quite so grim, and I had a few sparks of excitement as I followed Tarka this afternoon, finally allowing myself to start to appreciate that we're actually getting close to completing the journey that Captain Scott perished trying to achieve. While I'm not normally superstitious in any sense, I almost daren't think about finishing this vast trip for fear of jinxing things at the eleventh hour, but something about seeing our old tracks again snapped me out of our goldfish-style routine of only thinking as far ahead as what we're going to eat at the next break.

Speaking of which, I mentioned double rations a while ago. We're still limited to our normal day's rations at the moment, but there's a depot that we're on track pick up on Saturday 1st that's loaded with food so we can push the boat out then for the last few days, which in our current states is a very exciting prospect indeed...


# Intrepid, January 29th 2014

222 miles of skiing to go, 222 miles to go,
You ski some more, make tracks in the snow, (or, following old tracks in the snow)
221 miles of skiing to go.
221 miles of skiing to go, 221 miles to go,
You ski some more, make tracks in the snow,
220 miles of skiing to go….

Dear Ben and Tarka,

Checked into Google Earth a few times today and heard myself exclaim out loud, “Hey! They’re skiing in a straight line! Weather must be better. ” Although seems the impaired visual traded with the impaired snow, so you still had it tough. Seems odd how the ski tracks stayed while everything around it blew away. And just how do the tracks stay when the sleds follow… wouldn’t the weight of the sleds cover up the tracks (especially on the shelf, when the sleds were much much heavier). Do the sleds happen to drag at an angle?

It’s good to hear the lift in your spirit. And just because I haven’t said this in a while -  everything you need to know is right there. Listen/stay alert to the end.. .


# Richard Pierce, January 29th 2014

Cracking effort on the difficult surface. I’m really chuffed you had a day of clearness around you.

Looking at where you are, you’re in a good position to still be on full rations (not that this makes you feel any less hungry). I’ll be cheering with you when you get to your depot on Saturday. I’m with you, though, about not wanting to tempt fate, so take care today.

Take especially great care tomorrow, when, by my reckoning, you’ll pass the place at which the search party discovered Scott’s final camp on 12th November 1912.

God Speed, boys. Hoping for good weather and a better surface today.



# Intrepid, January 29th 2014

Ah, was it the snow around the tracks melted? Forgot about that! Haven’t been in snow in a while…

# Karen White, January 29th 2014

Three days to a stash of food
This surely will lighten the mood
After rations galore
The crew will implore
‘Our calorie planning is screwed.’

Fab to hear of a better day - you guys are amazing. K




# Dave, January 29th 2014

I think maybe the snow Ben and Tarka compressed with their skis remained, while the looser snow around it was blown away.

Ben, you are both an inspiring expeditioner and a top-notch communicator (I’m guessing Tarka is too, even if he’s the more reticent of the pair).  I think that’s a common trait of the great explorers, and probably not a coincidental combination.  I must remember “push the boat out” for the right occasion.

So who do you and Tarka like in this Sunday’s Super Bowl?

Continued safety and progress

# Christian, January 29th 2014

Ben, Tarka,
Good to read about a good day for both of you.
“Navigating is like a piece of cake” ...excellent..hope you can follow your tracks the remaining days, too (piece of cake by piece of cake). This would mean a whole cake in the end.
Stay strong, focused.
regards from Berlin -8°C

# Pavol Timko, January 29th 2014

Dear Ben and Tarka,
I will be missing your blogs soon as your great voyage will be over. Reading your entries became part of my morning routines. Let’s see what’s the news and then anything can start for a day. Thank you guys you are true heroes!

# Justin Philips, January 29th 2014

Also your sleds were very heavy then carrying greater loads, so must have left a deep mark. Anyways, good luck and good speed!

# Heidi, January 29th 2014

Dear Ben and Tarka, we are happy to hear you had some blue sky and that you were able to follow a pre-navigated path today.  And we’re always happy to hear that you are safe and well.  We read and relish your post, and I can now drift off to sleep peacefully, having heard from “the boys”.  One ski in front of the other.  By the way, you must finish, for my husband may be growing weary of my obsession with Antarctica and the people who conquer it.  (Truth:  he is as gripped as I am.). Warm hugs from our family.

# Rich/Ione, January 29th 2014

Time for your daily limerick:

Both Tarka and Ben took a selfie
showing each of them gingerly elfie.
They continue their blog and
their mind-boggling slog and
they soon will return hale and heal(f)ie

# Ariane, January 29th 2014

nice :)

# Janet Stanley, January 29th 2014

Glad you had a clearer day to relieve the monotony & it was easy to navigate because of your previous tracks, hope the day goes well for you both, please stay safe :)

# CaninesCashews, January 29th 2014

Hi guys,

Awesome mileage on that surface, must be good to be able to see where you are going for a change.

You must be nearing the end – mentally allowing yourself tiny glimpses of the finish line – daring to dream.

Oh and just in case you never find yourself that way again – savour these last few days, I remember a quote from Goodrich, “Just because a person successfully steers a voyage through hell doesn’t mean he ever wants to sail that route again.”

Here’s to happy ‘sailing’ on this final stretch.

Stay safe.

# Phil Satoor, January 29th 2014

I dreamt last night you had asked me to come with you to the Pole but I declined (because it’s too hard) but when I heard you got there I regretted my decision and realised I had let the opportunity of a lifetime slip through my fingers.  Have you got any dreams to share with us?

# Heidi, January 29th 2014

Phil, I know your question on dreams is for the expeditioners, but I had an Antarctic dream last night, also.  I dreamed there were emperor penguins on the beach in Southern California (where I live).

# Simon Griffee, January 29th 2014

Go, go, go!

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