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

# Pete Vassilakos, February 3rd 2014

Exciting guys!!!! So close, I bet you can taste the beer! I have been in contact with Andy, and a very special gift will be on it’s way over to you from Canada in a few days!! Good luck and Godspeed!!!!! Cheers mates!

Pete Vassilakos

# Canadian Winter Lover, February 3rd 2014

Dear Ben and Tarka,

Thank you for communicating your thoughts and feelings as you have truly endured 101 days of what is completely beyond the comprehension of 99.99% of the population. I have thoroughly enjoyed “tuning in” everyday to see how you are doing. So while we are all so happy that you are going to conquer this amazing trek ... I’m a little bit sad as well, I’ll miss tuning in each day to get my boost of “and you think you have it bad!” :—).

Wishing you all the best as you slog through these last few days and make it home safe and sound. Take good care of yourselves when you reach civilization, you deserve it!!


# Willie Hannah, February 3rd 2014

Ben and Tarka, into treble figures for days on the ice and double figures for miles to go, many congratulations on you achievement to date.  The additional calories will provide that clearer train of thought you will need to ensure a safe exit from the expedition; please do not allow your guards to drop, Old Beardie tried to get you on the descent, the ice shelf could still have a sting in it’s tail.  Be strong, Be safe and continue to look out for each other.  Ben, I have passed on your updates to your dad.  Hoofing, regards, Willie

# Dave, February 3rd 2014

The more I read your blog entries, the more I’m reminded of the Apollo moon missions, right down to the special watch (if memory serves, the Astronauts wore Omegas).  While I don’t expect to see you and Tarka on the deck of an aircraft carrier or in a ticker tape parade (a TED Talk will be much more interesting) the world should note your achievement and all those who helped make it possible.

I hope spotting those landmarks won’t make you hurry to the point of over-exerting yourselves.  In addition to your finishing location, I’m also curious about who will be waiting to welcome you.  I have this vision of a lucky few spotting you in the distance and documenting your arrival.  A penguin escort would be a treat, especially tobogganing adelies.

Continued safety and progress

# Phil Satoor, February 3rd 2014

One thing that caught my attention in today’s blog was your comment on how lack or otherwise of calorie intake affected your mental state.
Captain Scott’s party was short of calories in the later stage of the barrier due to short marches and shortage of oil.
Perhaps this affected their ability to think clearly and to realise that by leaving behind unnecessary weight, e.g. the rock samples they had collected, they could have increased their daily marches and have increased their chances of pulling through.

# Colin Barton, February 3rd 2014

Ben, love the watch, I am also a big (unfortunately non owning) fan of Bremont. In fact, I met you very briefly at the launch of the Descent LE just off Sloane Square. Reading the small blurb you put onto your blog made me think of another episode between Ran and Mike - Mike had forgotten to get the battery changed in his quartz watch and it stopped working whilst they were underway. This meant that to share the navigating they had to share Ran’s watch too! A pretty big ask eh?!

Perhaps the model you are wearing will go into the Bremont shop/museum for us to wonder the adventures it has had!!

Perhaps this quote from Buchwald can help balance the lack of enjoyment of the constant trudge - I look at this positively not negatively “Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we’ve got.”

# Emma, February 3rd 2014

Hope you won’t be needing the 2000m water resistance feature of the watch, on this voyage at least.

# Brendan Smith, February 3rd 2014

Glad to extra calories are helping.  You are getting so close to having completed a truly epic journey.  Stay safe and thanks for sending these updates so we can track your progess.

# Rodwell W. Stephens, February 3rd 2014

Keep it up guys, you’re almost there. I wouldn’t shave my beard ‘till you guys get it done. :D
All the best!

# Dave, February 3rd 2014

I wonder how many beards will come off when Ben and Tarka reach their goal.  Maybe a fun opportunity for the team to collect photos via Facebook or other medium.

# Anne-Marie Turner, February 3rd 2014

Keep going Ben & Tarka!  I love getting home after work to read what kind of day you’ve had - it puts a perspective on mine, you are both an inspiration. 

Gods speed x

# Lisa Jane Persky, February 3rd 2014

The watch is beautiful.  I would wear it proudly.  I check in every day to see how you’re both faring. All of our wishing for better conditions for you hasn’t been working very well but we won’t stop now. I hope to soon be reading about the first meal you have that you’ve only dreamt of over the long miles. Loving your photographs and especially happy to see “the Man Hug.” Hugs are necessary for optimal health - no matter the degree of self-consciousness! Love and safe travels to you both from me,  LJP

# Barbara B from Clinton, CT USA, February 3rd 2014

Ben and Tarka, your story has inspired me to learn more about the South Pole and to read much about Scott and the men who entrusted their fate to him.  It has also inspired me to think about what you are doing and the reasons for it.  So, I have composed a limerick for you. I hope you do get to read it and that you get something out of it.

Two explorers who hailed from Eur
Rope with sleds harnessed on and with fur
Round their faces their “staches”
Ice sculpted their glasses
Reflect dreams ne’er a white out can blur

Hopeful young strong explorers from Eur
Rope with readers in tow on the tour
Red their faces their “staches”
Encase crumbs from their caches
Salami, clean socks to procure

Footprints back to Scott’s hut was the lure
Ben and Tarka set out to ensure
Their selfies storm crusted
Sastrugi they busted
Scott’s hell in reverence to endure

While we readers discussed curvatures
And how they should enjoy the tortures
Of which they merely hinted
We devoured what they printed
Now who’ll offer them both pedicures?

# Helena, February 3rd 2014

Wonderful job, guys, I am so happy for you :-)
I wonder if anyone in the world will ever beat you with your 104-days record of making the journey :-) I guess no-one :)

Stay safe, we are with you, friends from Brno, Czech Republic

# Jon, February 3rd 2014

Well done guys - you are all done and dusted, I’ll put the kettle on, do you want Hobnobs or Custard Creams, see you on Sunday

# Offroading Home, February 3rd 2014

Ben and Tarka closing in on another day of slogging - it looks like lately their goal for each day is not to quit until they’ve done 24 miles - they will camp shortly somewhere just a little north of “Italy’s boot” made up of Mount Discovery and its Minna Bluff. Assuming they aren’t going to get to take any short cuts, the two more days that they seem to expect to travel will put them almost directly north of the northern point of White Island in the ice patch about 15 miles still east of Hut Point Peninsula. Not quite the old cabin that some had assumed they were heading for, because that’s where they made sure their trail line started; but, I for one at least, have no quibbles or agenda’s one way or the other.  They seem to have accomplished what they set out to do - what more can anyone ask?

It is interesting that they’ve begun giving us something else to think about, teasing us with something special (we would guess) that they are planning for the day they quit skiing.  AND seeing how we commenters have never been short of conjectures about “what the heck they are doing now"as we have watched their “dots,”  I’m wondering what you all think they might be up to this time.  Let’s see: they won’t yet quite be at Hut Point, don’t want to fully commit yet (?weather ?permits ?flight schedules?)—what could it be?

Let me start us off with a few possibilities: What if their Land Rover sponsor has brought down a “donation” for the McMurdo Station and are going to pick Ben and Tarka up at the end of the ice runway and let them ride atop a snow-cat like conquering hero’s; OR, what if their patron’s and sponsors are coming down to line the track at the finish line; OR, what if they’ve invited all the “locals” out to a banquet; OR, perhaps one (or some) of the Scott family have flown down to help them pull their sledges the last day (or some portion thereof).

Ok, those are my guesses at the moment and I’m sure I can think of others—what are ya’ll thinking they could do to end this ordeal with a bang!

# Richard Pierce, February 3rd 2014

I’m thinking they’ll either try to finish at the Discovery Hut, or at Scott Base where there is a hut originally built by Edmund Hillary when he reached the South Pole with a Massey Ferguson tractor, other assorted vehicles, and met Sir Viv Fuchs coming from the other side of the continent.

Looking at the ice conditions, they’d be hard-pushed to reach Hut Point with their sledges, while Scott Base still looks accessible from the East. And the base is named after Scott, and, I have suddenly remembered, in the south-facing lounge at Scott Base, there is a light that is always left on to show the Polar Party the way home. It would appear that this would be an appropriate place to end the expedition, and close enough to be able to say they have completed Scott’s journey. I might also surmise that they’ll then go up Observation Hill to the jarrah tree cross erected there by the Search Party on 22nd January 1913 in memory of Scott, Wilson, Bowers, Evans and Oates.


# Phil Satoor, February 3rd 2014

And on that cross they’ll find the words “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”, words which encapsulate the current expedition just as well as they do the original.

# Richard Pierce, February 4th 2014

Absolutely. R

# Intrepid, February 4th 2014

Only time will tell

# dj, February 4th 2014

@richard… I knew if I through it out there someone would come up with some neat guesses.  (Franlky, I secretly hoped to smoke you out if you had already left to go walk with them the last bit); @intrepid… you’re no fun!

Those of us who have been glued to Google Earth, including me, have gotten a bit snow-blind.  Today, I’ve been oogling the webcams at McMurdo (all 6 of ‘em) and MAN things have changed!  They’ll need a boat soon!  The problem is that doing 24 miles a day, doesn’t get them but to 13 miles east of Mc Murdo in two more days.  Wonder if that’s where the water’s edge is located.

Let’s keep this going (even though Richard is probably right) - this seems like too big of a photo op to miss for sponsors and patrons.  We keep forgetting the they’ve actually got an Iridium Pilot and COULD if they wanted to - do a video conference with someone, or interviews with media, OR even a twitter meet-up!

# Simon, February 3rd 2014

Greetings from sunny Dubrovnik on St Blaise’s Day - he who saved a child with a fish bone stuck in his throat: I reckon that your smart rations have had the bone ground down to a calorific booster, so you won’t need St Blaise for a few more days.  Onwards to the finish: Croatia salutes you.

# Mike Wing, February 3rd 2014

There is a lot of open water around Scott Base & McMurdo at present which I assume is the cause of the overcast conditions. Check out these two webcams: and

# Mal Owen, February 3rd 2014

Good to know you’re back on form and well fed and fuelled. Double figures now , soon to be single…doesn’t seem five minutes since it was so much more… what trials you have faced in order to come this far.  Hoping for better conditions for you so you can be beckoned in by those very special landmarks.
Keep warm, think safe , we are all ‘watching you! ’ and waiting for that special moment of triumph you have coming to you.

# Mia Bentley, February 3rd 2014

One foot in front of the other boys all the way home xxx

# Barbara B from Clinton, CT USA, February 3rd 2014

Mia, I think you have it exactly right.

# Jacob, February 3rd 2014

Yeah, mechanical watches are very nice machines. How does the solar navigation work, is it reflection off the surface in relation to the watch hands and compass points?
I guess you never could have imagined how you would be coming home when you dropped off the depots.
Hello Field Notes.

# Mal Owen, February 3rd 2014

If your thoughts are correct Richard, that would be a fitting completion to this amazing journey.

# Richard Pierce, February 4th 2014

I could, of course, be entirely wrong. R

# Intrepid, February 4th 2014

You might even be optimally wrong…

# dj, February 4th 2014

@mal… yes, R is probably right. also lets keep this thread back up in one place so people can find it; @Richard, you probably are the closest; @intrepid… you still are no fun.

# Intrepid, February 4th 2014

Bwah!  dj, I know you were smiling….

The light on at Scott Hut would be a very fitting end; romantic, complete. Do you suppose they might be carrying something to put into place?  (Something already given clearance/legal)

PS. Not sure which thread is the ‘one’ to keep going so using this one….

# Intrepid, February 4th 2014

Just checked Google Earth for the heck of it and found B&T are truckin’ big time, as though they switched night for day. Holy Moly!! 

# Mal Owen, February 4th 2014

Apologies for messing up the thread was after midnight, tried 3 times to repost reply correctly but the software wouldn’t let me ....

# McDowell Crook, February 3rd 2014


# Austin Duryea, February 4th 2014

Good job on Great mileage. How much would one of those watches cost? Can’t wait to see you finish this thing off.

# Sue, February 4th 2014

I have read and followed you and Tara every step of the way. Both of you have been such a huge inspiration to so many of us. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I know longer have your daily blogs to read.

# bee, February 4th 2014

As #intrepid said, it has been a wonderful adventure, and I want to thank you again for sharing it with all of us who have had the pleasure of reading your daily blogs. You will continue to be an inspiration long after you reach your final destination.
Stay safe and well in these last few days. Hoping the sun shines warm upon your shoulders.

# Freya Godard, February 4th 2014

Having, unfortunately, discovered your expedition and your blog only in the last two weeks, I may have missed the answer to my question. However, I am very curious to know why you undertook such a daunting endeavour without more people. Would it not have been much more pleasant and less lonely and tedious to have had a group of, say, four? I don’t think either Scott or Shackleton ever had fewer than f our in their southern journeys, and Scott, of course,eventually decided on five. Would it also not have been safer, especially on the glacier, to have more than two people?

I’d also like to thank you for posting so many photos. On seeing them, I realize I have always picured Antarctica in black and white — mostly white, in fact. I had never thought about a blue sky or bright sunshine.

Best wishes for a view of the famous landmarks on the last days of your journey.

Freya Godard in Toronto

# jb, February 4th 2014

Your Expedition has been truly amazing and your blogs have been my night reading since you started. I hope that there will be a book so we can get all the details. Not many more days now and history will be made.  Regarding your current temperatures I can relate to slogging through the cold and snow, we are days -21,  wind chill- 30.  Its amazing how food can make everything more tolerable and improve the spirit. Keep walking safe to the end

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