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.

One Week In (Day 7)

Day 7: S78° 03' 53.58", E168° 25' 11.58"

Duration: 6 Hr

Daily distance: 5.4 Mi

Distance to go: 1753.4 Mi

Temperature: -32 °C

Wind chill: -41 °C

Altitude: 92 Ft

On our seventh day on the ice, things are finally looking up. We had a freezing, miserable morning with a soft, sticky surface that slowed us to a crawl, and a biting windchill that seemed determined to freeze our fingers, toes and faces.

Getting going in the morning is perhaps the hardest part of the day. We take the tent down and pack our sleds wearing big down jackets, removing them just before we start skiing. Then comes a difficult balancing act: setting off fast enough to generate enough heat to thaw our painful digits/noses and generally get our bodies feeling comfortably warm again, yet cautiously enough to avoid straining a stiff, cold tendon or muscle.

The first three hours of today were pretty grim, then we suddenly appeared - in the space of a few feet - to cross a mysterious threshold where the surface became instantly and infinitely better. It was like my sled had snapped in half, and I suddenly found myself standing more upright rather than leaning deep into my harness, and able to ski for 10 or 15 minutes at a time, rather than 10 or 15 paces. It stayed like that for the rest of the day, so we're feeling optimistic.

A few questions we've been sent...

Q) Can you see any remains of early explorer's depots or cairns?

A) Other than Scott's wooden huts at the coast from the Discovery and Terra Nova expeditions, there's no sign they were here. Any cairns (and even Scott's tent and burial site) are buried under a century's worth of snow, and I think would also have drifted out towards the coast (though I'm not entirely sure of the dynamics of the Ross Ice Shelf).

Q) Do you have sails for your sleds?

A) Nope! Scott did, but I don't think they had a great deal of use out of them, and using modern-day traction kites that can cover hundreds of kilometres in a day would have made this a very different sort of expedition - far more about weather, luck and skill than endurance.

Q) What is your daily routine? When do you get up, start walking, etc? What do you do in the tent?

A) I'll write about this soon!

Q) How do you alleviate pain e.g. bruises from your harnesses? 

A) We have a pretty comprehensive first aid kit, though other than a bit of tape we've yet to use any of it.

Q) How cold was the plane?

A) Once they had the heating going, it was very warm!

Q) Is Amundsen's flag still at the South Pole?

A) I genuinely have no idea what happened to his flag. Does anyone else know?

Q) Is your stove modified? What fuel does it run on? A) The stove is an unmodified MSR XGK EX, though it's on a custom-made carbon fibre stove board (I've attached a photo) and we use MSR titanium fuel bottles, which they don't make any more. The cooking pot is a Primus ETA with a modified MSR heat exchanger. The stove runs on Coleman fuel (white gas).

Q) What temperature is it in the tent?

A) It varies enormously! We recorded plus 12 degrees centigrade last night(!) but it goes down to at least the -20s while we're asleep.


# Chris Wilson, November 1st 2013

Apparently Amundsen’s flag is still buried down there but they couldn’t find it.  May be another story but that’s what I read.

1)  Your photos seem to be showing a fair amount of sastrugi, is that true or are these features small beer?

2) It would be awesome to see photos of the huge pressure areas Scott and his men (and of course Shackleton etc.) talked of around the Beardmore when you get there.

3)  You guys are awesome.

# Jen, November 1st 2013

I cannot imagine how that must feel, but the description and imagery in my head draws a rather amazing picture. Great going guys. I am, as ever, in awe of your acheievement thus far.

# Janet Stanley, November 1st 2013

Interesting stuff! thank you for taking the time to answer questions & do this blog….technology can be so amazing!! Stay safe guys :)

# Harriet Halfhead, November 1st 2013

I wait with baited breath each day for your blog.  I am complete awe of what you are doing and how you are doing it.  Your photos are magnificent and I carry them around in my head each day.  You guys are simply amazing.
One quick question.  Apparently when I am on long ultra runs I start singing to myself (this is an allegedly!) you have random songs that pop into you head at points as you are toiling each day?
You are fantastic and I will you on each day.

# CaninesCashews, November 1st 2013

Hi guys,

Love the photo with the poles - looking forward to you repeating that at the half way point!

Sounding a bit more upbeat - hopefully a little easier today - whatever ‘easier’is in on a polar sliding scale. Long may the upright skiing continue!

Any more mirages?

Stay safe,


# Kevin Wilson, November 1st 2013

Just been doing a catch up on all the blogs since you started the expedition and I must say I’m looking forward to following the daily message. Fascinating how we can actually track you on the ice. One question though, I noticed that today’s blog was written and posted 2 days ago on October 30th? Is that correct?

# Scott Expedition (Chessie), November 1st 2013

Hi Kevin. Good spot. No, it was written following day 7, 31 Oct. Technical hitch - it should be correct now. All the best

# Touchstone Community School Stéfanie Mayhew, Teach, November 1st 2013


My grade 4-5 students are following your blog. We have been learning all about Polar exploration since September. They are so excited! We would love to hear from you!

All our best!

The Green class
Touchstone Community School
Rothesay, New Brunswick

# Jörg, November 1st 2013

Hey Ben - what watch are you wearing? Is it an automatic or did you opt for a quartz watch?

# Matt Godfrey, November 1st 2013

Keeping a close eye on your progress! Keep up the good work guys!
If ever ther was a definition of just being out right cool, its sitting down in antarctica after pulling a pulk the equivalant to two big burly blokes, laying in a tent answering questions over the internet. I take my hat off to you and wait in antcipation of the next blog!!
My question is,
While youre keeping us folk content writing your blog, whats tarka doing? Cooking? Singing to himself? Keeping a record of his own accounts??
Cheers, Matt.

# kevin, November 1st 2013

Spoke to your mum in the shop today Ben,,, she has the biggest smile and is , rightfully so, immensly proud in what you guys are doing.  Good luck fellas.

ps,,,  your mum has took a definate liking to the two early christmas presents you left ;-)

# Mrs. Kreinhagen's 5th Grade Class, November 1st 2013

Why does it take that long to get to the South Pole on skis?  It seems like it should only take 60 days.  Why do you want to take such a trip?  I hope you come back safe!

# dj, November 1st 2013

Don’t miss the chance for a great math lesson: i.e. average of miles per day divided into round trip distance (1800); or a weekend science homework assignment - how long does it take them to pull a cinderblock over sand (or various surfaces) a quarter-mile?

# Daryl Cobabe, November 1st 2013

1)The first humans to reach the Geographic South Pole were Norwegian Roald Amundsen and his party on December 14, 1911.
2)Robert Falcon Scott, with four other men from the Terra Nova Expedition, reached the Pole a month later.
3)After Amundsen and Scott, the next people to reach the South Pole overland (albeit with some air support) were Edmund Hillary (January 4, 1958) and Vivian Fuchs (January 19, 1958), and their respective parties
The south pole gets about a foot of snow a year so yes it is there but under about   101 feet of snow it also moves 33 feet a year so it would be about 3,333 feet from the south pole. To my knowledge it is still their.

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