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.

Once More into the Mist (and a Secret Revealed…) (Day 101)

Day 101: S78° 49' 36", E168° 33' 18"

Duration: 10 Hr

Daily distance: 23.8 Mi

Distance to go: 87.5 Mi

Temperature: -20 °C

Wind chill: -27 °C

Altitude: 160 Ft

The good news, weather-wise, was that we've had clear blue sky directly overhead all day today. The bad news is that we've had either low cloud or peculiar banks of freezing fog at ground (or indeed ice) level, so we've barely seen a thing in terms of scenery again, and we certainly haven't been able to spot Mount Erebus, Mount Terror, White Island, Black Island or any of the landmarks I've read and dreamt about for so many years that will guide us back to our finish line at the shore of Ross Island near Scott Base (I'll write about exactly where we're finishing in a day or two).

It's getting properly cold during the middle of the day now, as the sun dips lower and lower, and we had an ambient temperature of -20 degrees C. as we stopped halfway through today's ten hours. The surface continues to make life very hard indeed, and Antarctica certainly isn't letting up as we approach the final few miles. We picked up another depot today, the second we dropped on the way out, so we're well stocked-up with food and fuel, and we have the backs of the sledges to lug around now too, just to add to the fun.

While we still feel physically very weak, especially with an extra few kilos on the sledges, the additional calories we're taking on now have made a huge difference to our mental states; we're both able to hold trains of thought for far longer, and the sessions during the day seem to pass more quickly as a result of being able to lose ourselves in intricate daydreams and detailed future plans rather than drooling over imaginary burgers every few minutes.

Finally, I've finally been given the all-clear to let you in on something I've been excited about for the past year or so: the custom-made Bremont watch I'm wearing, called the Supermarine Terra Nova (named, of course, after Scott's last expedition). I've been working with Bremont for several years now, and I'm a huge fan of the brand, the incredible timepieces they make, and of the two inimitable brothers who started it all, Nick and Giles English. They're an inspiring duo, and they've worked astonishingly hard to do what many thought impossible, in building a British watch company from scratch that can not only stand its ground against some long-established and deeply-respected competition, but lead the way too. A reliable watch is one of the most critical tools of my trade, and I've been lucky enough to work with Bremont in creating my dream expedition watch, and one that will go on sale a little later this year.

Here's some more detail on the watch that has tracked every second of my 101 days in Antarctica so far from Giles himself:

"This is a custom mechanical watch developed for Ben to be a very effective tool for his expedition, made with an aircraft-grade titanium to reduce weight increase strength and make it 2000m water resistant. The mechanical movement is built with a special vibration mount that has the ability to protect the watch against extreme shocks and that also functions as a thermal insulator. Quartz (battery-powered watches) are prone to being affected by very low temperatures so the Bremont Terra Nova uses a mechanical automatic movement tested to -40c before Ben's departure. This is Bremont's first non-chronograph GMT watch giving a second time zone. This, when combined with the use of the 360 degree bezel, can be very effective as a tool for solar navigation. Scott would be pleased that the watch was developed and built in the UK."


# Richard Pierce, February 3rd 2014

Less than 100 miles to go now. Very pleased for you.

I hope the weather lifts so you can see those landmarks at least once as you walk in.

It will be very interesting to see when and how you finish.

Don’t get complacent on these last “few” miles - 87.5 is still 87.5 miles of danger.

God Speed.


# Amir, February 3rd 2014

Keep it up fellas,you’r doing well! probably now it’s a critic time but keep your chins up and ski and walk and ski and walk.

stay safe

# CaninesCashews, February 3rd 2014

Hi guys,

Wow inside 78° and less than 90 miles to go – its getting real.

Lets hope for clearer skies for a fonder farewell at least once in the next few days.
Am pleased the additional food has fired up the synapses again, perhaps the daydreaming will return enough to pass the time that little bit quicker.

Stay safe and God Speed,

# JonT, February 3rd 2014

Woot!  Only a few more days to go!!!!  And then you can get one of those imaginary burgers for reals ;)

Best wishes and God bless!

# Rich&Ione;, February 3rd 2014

Have always liked mechanical watches. I can recall the Brooklyn jewellery store owner for whom I worked in the 1960’s lamenting the introduction of electronic timepieces. Glad to see mechanicals are still developing. Keep ticking away those miles/kilometres.

# Uncle Pete, February 3rd 2014

What a difference some extra food makes to survival. Despite all the advantage of modern technology - including bespoke timepiece - nutrition still remains the limiting factor to such expeditions. Possibly further research on this may spin off to benefit the wider context of one of the biggest challenges now facing the world? Now you are able to engage the minds again, lets hope you might consider this - while watching your every step safely to the end of course!

# andrew, February 3rd 2014

Its been an instructive Geography lesson. A new awareness of Antarctica - how big, how high, temperature,winds, names of land features,who lives there. A poignant history lesson too, showing in no uncertain manner the extraordinary superhuman efforts needed for exploration in hostile environments. The drama lesson hasn’t finished yet so keep your wits about you, but well done boys;  you have inspired some enquiring minds.

Soon it will be seats to the upright position , trays away, and the penguin and the bear will come through to clear your rubbish. You did train them, didn’t you?

# Intrepid, February 3rd 2014

Now that’s a pretty sweet deal, having a finely crafted watch geared to your dream specifications. May it always show the right time and assist you in getting where you want to go.

I’m thinking of getting a stack of those field notes for an upcoming project!!

87 miles of skiing to go, 87 miles to go,
You ski some more, make tracks in the snow,
86 miles of skiing to go.
86 miles of skiing to go, 86 miles to go,
You ski some more, make tracks in the snow,
85 miles of skiing to go….

Dear Ben and Tarka,

It’s really interesting to hear how things that have been so vividly affecting you, and although still present, how these things are now seeming to have barely any affect on you.  It’s also odd to report that now I don’t have a very good sense of what it’s like to be in your shoes. I’m wondering if this is due to the change-up in your writing, the influence of extra food, the finish line being in range, or perhaps being up in the middle of the night and feeling my own drifting towards the far reaches of a well needed sleep zone. In any case, I am glad to hear that things are ... moving along… and look forward to what’s up in regards to where your long camping trip ends.

with Abandon,

# Intrepid, February 3rd 2014


It’s not true. I can stand in your shoes. The experience is very fleeting though, so my senses have very little to recreate as your words virtual reality. I realize though that I can, having a background of 100 days reading, with a few droplets of information and some of my own elbow grease, compose a short movie.

I have looked forward to your blog entries like a child jumping into bed every night to be read a few more pages of their favorite bedtime story. It’s been a wonderful adventure and I can’t imagine now ever having been without it.


# wonderwoman, February 3rd 2014

We send you love from Finland and pray for your safe return. Take care.

# Janet Stanley, February 3rd 2014

Great going again guys, hope the fog lifts for you, take care as usual :)

# Lydia, February 3rd 2014

WoW nice wrist piece Mr Saunders…......... must give you an inner warmth when you look at it to know you were a part of developing it…........ Quality!!
I really cannot believe that you are so close to realising your life’s dream.  How many people fulfill their simplest of dreams let along dragging a sled 1800m across Antarctica.
So pleased that you have managed extra rations.
Take care 72hrs to go - Amazing Amazing Amazing!!
Lydia x

# Jason Cheah, February 3rd 2014

Greetings from sunny 90F Malaysia! I’ve been following your progress updates for the last few weeks… awesome and humbled to see you guys soldering on, day after day.

Sending warm thoughts and lots of sunshine your way… almost there guys. Stay safe and stay focused!

# Kat, February 3rd 2014

Gorgeous watch!  I hope they produce a woman’s version!  You put together an amazing team of sponsors and supporters…I can’t imagine how grateful you are to them every day. I often think of them, how they go out on a limb to support you both in this amazing undertaking.

I’ll echo what Andrew said earlier: you’re bringing us a new understanding of that land so far down under, and I’m very grateful for that, and for your generous daily accounts of your journey.

We’re with you…

# t.g, February 3rd 2014

Hope you complete the expidtion and we are doing a news report
p.s from t.g .class 4

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