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.

Resupply (Day 70)

I'm sorry to have kept you waiting for this update; you might have seen from the tracker that we haven't moved for a while, and you may be wondering what's up. For more than a decade I've been trying to get to the start line of this expedition, and for more than a decade I've been talking about how it would be a journey that was at the very limits of human endurance. Today, in hindsight, I wonder if I really appreciated how prescient and accurate that glib statement was, and yet how little I knew about where that journey would lead me, and what it would take for Tarka and me to dig so deep.

Part of the appeal of this expedition to me was that it seemed just about possible. Roger Mear, one of Robert Swan's team that completed Scott's one-way journey to the Pole in the mid-eighties said they didn't entertain the thought of unsupported return journey as it was plainly "impossible" to haul enough food and fuel. Both Scott and Shackleton, of course, had pre-positioned depots the year before their Pole attempts, and then had further teams hauling provisions for them all the way to the Plateau, peeling away one by one like booster rockets falling back to earth. Scott himself didn't put his own sledge harness on until he got to the base of the Beardmore Glacier, and at most his men pulled just over 90kg each.

By contrast, Tarka and I pulled 200kg each at the start, heavier loads per man than Scott's weakest two ponies each dragged. Peter McDowell, one of the senior directors of ALE, described it as "Fifty percent harder" than anything he had seen in his time supporting Antarctic expeditions. We gambled on getting faster as our loads lightened, and based on our training and experience, Tarka and I had secretly set ourselves the goal of covering 42km -a full marathon- per day on our return from the Pole to the Beardmore. We planned our food and fuel to match, going light and -we hoped- fast, with almost no leeway for error or a let-up in pace. This is why we did such a big day to turn at the Pole, and why we've had no time to rest properly since. We had two-and-a-half hours' sleep on our Pole day, and haven't had more than five hour's sleep for nearly two months. Our only full rest day was 55 days ago. The toll this effort has taken has been quite something, and the speed we hoped for never came.

Our near-empty sledges still felt heavy and the energy that carried us up the Beardmore, and indeed to the Pole itself in record time despite dragging more than anyone in history, started to wane dramatically in the last few days. What's more, we've been running lower on food as we failed to meet our mileage targets. Six days ago we started to eat half rations, and I've felt shattered every day since, aware that I was depleting my body at a rate that might have been reckless. My stomach growled permanently, my ribs became more prominent by the day, my legs were painfully weak and my mind and thoughts and decision-making grew foggy and dim. On our second day of half-rations I got dangerously cold when I had to remove my outer jacket in the middle of a storm to add more insulating layers, and it was only Tarka's help -zipping up my jackets like I was a toddler while my cold hands hung useless by my side- that got me out of trouble and through a very dark day indeed. 

I've been reluctant to say so (sorry mum!) but we've both been on the ragged edge for a while now, and on New Year's Eve, we set out on what was to prove the hardest day of the expedition. It was Tarka's turn this time to struggle, and I'd reached a state where I was barely able to realise it. The windchill was -45 degrees centigrade when I recorded it, and we stayed outside for more than 13 hours, on fifty percent of the food I'd intended and wearing almost all the clothes we had with us. At breaks we would eat halved energy bars and our normally-sweet drinks tasted like lukewarm dishwater with a hint of lemon. Towards the eighth or ninth hour Tarka's normally rock-steady metronomic pace started to become erratic and he seemed to stagger and stumble more than usual on ridges and divots in the snow surface. He stopped mid-session, in a howling blizzard, to remove his outer gilet (the Primaloft-insulated Mountain Equipment Compressor vests that have served us so well here) and flipped back his hood as if he were too hot. I know -as a professional leader of expeditions to the coldest places on the planet- that these are tell-tale signs of hypothermia, yet I was on the limit myself and failed to react. All I can remember from that afternoon that drifted into evening, with the dim sun slowly wheeling around us and the horizon erasing itself and reappearing again in the whirling fog of spindrift, was being unable to think of anything more than the battle raging in my head against the part of me that wanted so desperately to stop. Just to lean my shoulders on my ski poles and slump forwards against the resistance of my harness and rest, and to hell with the consequences. I wondered at times if I fell over whether I'd have the strength to stand up again, the energy to yell for Tarka, or whether he'd even notice me calling over the noise of the wind.

When I took over the lead I kept turning back to see Tarka -normally right on my heels- drifting further behind me. I stopped a few times to let him catch up, but it was too cold for me to wait for more than a minute or two before I started shivering, so I raised a single ski pole, he raised his in reply -a signal we've often used here- and I shuffled on. After doing this a few times, with Tarka receding as if the horizon was sucking him backward like quicksand, he stopped raising his pole. I waited, but by now he was a tiny dark speck in the white that took forever to grow. I unclipped my harness and started to put the tent up, feeling dizzy and breathless myself, and taking what seemed like ages to match the poles to their corresponding fabric sleeves, like a drunk taking some sort of coordination test. "Sorry I'm late", said Tarka as he arrived, but it sounded like someone else entirely, his words mumbled and slow.

As we finished slowly setting up camp, I saw he was fumbling in his giant outer mittens with the plastic buckles that strap our sledges closed. "I can't feel my hands", he said through a mask encrusted with ice, his shoulders slumped forwards. As we zipped ourselves into the porch of the tent to take our boots and outer layers off before climbing into our sleeping bags, we saw that the tips of his thumbs were at least badly frostnipped, if not lost entirely to frostbite. I remember feeling a mixture of fear and anger, both at him and at myself for letting this happen. I pulled up my jacket and fleece so he could warm his hands in my armpits, and to my relief the colour and circulation started to return.  We ate our watery half-dinners in near-silence and fell asleep exhausted and cold, knowing we would have to match the same distance the next day.

Our depot was still 74km away and we had barely more than half a day's food to reach it; eight energy bars each, half a breakfast and half an evening meal. 16km into the following day Tarka started to slow again as he led, before stopping entirely and waving me forward to talk. "I feel really weak in the legs again", he said. "OK. What do you want to do?" I answered snappily, before realising this was on me. I came here to be challenged and tested, to give my all to the hardest task I have ever set myself and to the biggest dream I have ever had. And here was the crux. This was the moment that mattered, not standing by the Pole having my photograph taken, but standing next to my friend, in a howling gale, miles away from anyone or anything. "Let's put the tent up", I said, "I've got an idea".

My idea was to call for a resupply. To have more food and fuel flown to our position so that we could rest and recover before finishing this journey. A decision that changes the status of this expedition from "unsupported" or "unassisted" or whatever semantics you wish to choose to the opposite. Part of me also feels it inevitable that we and this journey would face critics even if we'd done it in period clothing eating pemmican and pony meat. Yet in an instant I realised that my and Tarka's lives are not something I wanted to gamble with, and that we had given our all. We were lucky that neither of us had collapsed the day before, and I knew we couldn't possibly have hoped to recover on our meagre rations from the physical holes we'd dug ourselves into.

At the other end of the world, on the other end of a crackling and hissing satellite phone line, our expedition manager Andy Ward sprang into action, and things happened incredibly quickly, with a ski-plane carrying eight days' of rations landing twelve hours later. The weather worsened as we waited and I feared the flight would be aborted, or that a bag would be air-dropped at speed and lost in the blizzard, but in a beautiful twist of what some might call fate, the pilot was Troy, the same man that picked me up from the Arctic Ocean after my 72-day solo expedition nearly ten years ago, and in my eyes the finest polar pilot in the world. The Twin Otter appeared through a tiny hole in the rolling cloud and swang over us once before landing on the ridged and uneven snow surface and taxiing right up to our tent, its wing-tip almost above our roof. The wind was still blasting and the plane's skis were almost hidden under the blowing snow. "I'm sorry about the weather", I said to Troy, amazed that he'd been able to land. "Oh, it was fine", he replied modestly.

The hours we spent waiting were, I fear, dark ones for Tarka. He seemed a broken man. "It'll look like my fault", he said, "and that's a good thing for you." This was Tarka through and through. Weeks ago he said humbly, "If there are media at the airport when we get back, I'm happy to help with the bags while you talk to them." He finally admitted last night that when I was struggling (and if I'm honest now, on the verge of wanting to quit) a few weeks ago he'd taken food bags from my sledge while I was in the tent to help lighten my load without telling me, so he'd been pulling more weight than me for weeks.

Tarka is the hero here, and the irony of our situation is that I would never have made it to this point without his herculean efforts; his giving everything he has to this goal. I'm proud of how deep we have each dug, and I am amazed and humbled by Tarka's sacrifice. He has pushed (or indeed pulled) himself until he dropped, and I'm also as exhausted as I've ever been. For weeks now I have slept fitfully and woken up cold. We are both alarmingly lean, and we have both struggled for a while to maintain trains of thought or decent conversations. I suspect my writing has been going downhill too.

And now we are lying here resting, like two new men after ten hours' sleep, full-bellied and warm again for the first time in weeks, before we move north again to complete this unfinished journey. Our status has changed, but how little that means to me now. Scott didn't wear his harness until the Beardmore and would have been "supported" in modern polar parlance. I don't think we made any mistakes, and I don't think we could have done anything more, or pulled any more food up here. We travelled 5.6km per day at the start with 200kg per man, greater loads than each of Scott's weakest ponies hauled.

I know a few commentators have suggested that we've been "lucky" with weather and surface compared to a century ago, but I don't believe this is true. Our luck is in having GPS units that allow us to ski blind into whiteouts, in having synthetic skins on our skis that allow us to grip, and in having the nutrition and fitness and clothing to survive dragging loads that would have been unthinkable in that era. We have had no choice but to move every day, whatever the weather, for more than 70 hours per week of intense physical exertion, twice as much as a Tour de France cyclist, over ten weeks and not three.

Now my head is clearer and my body is recovering, I think of status and records and achievement and impermanence. Every gold medal one day ends up in a collectors' cabinet, an auction lot or a drawer in an antique shop. Trophies oxidise, the ribbons of rosettes curl and fade. I don't know where my proudly-won Scout badges are now. I hope our journey has not been diminished in your eyes now it is "imperfect". Yet of course for us humans, perfection can never really be reached, contentment is either here today, with the striving and the mess we all inhabit, all open loops and half-finished lists and could-do-better-next-times, or we will never find it. And the biggest lessons -to me at least- of this very long, very hard walk, are perhaps that compassion is more important than glory. Friendship and kindness and taking care of each other -like Tarka secretly removing weight from my sledge- matter more than achievement or status. The joy of being outdoors and alive in the wild, pushing ourselves harder than anyone will ever understand, will I think in time prove more wholesome and satisfying than the pride of any public recognition on our homecoming.

We're resting up today, we're safe, we're well, we'll do a shorter day north towards our mid-plateau depot tomorrow and we'll carry on home from there, retracing our steps to Ross Island. We're still in the process of making a journey that's never been done before, and I hope you'll still keep following. Tarka and I are humbled and grateful for your interest and support, and I am more thankful than I know how to say for Intel and Land Rover and all of our other partners for standing by us in our most trying days. Onwards.


# Mal Owen, January 2nd 2014

Thank God you’re safe… That was the best bit of writing I have ever read .....brought me to tears..or mushiness as George will have it . Of course I will be following .

# Ione & Rich, January 2nd 2014

Thank goodness you made the sensible choice and asked for help, supplies delivered by air are very seasonal! Thinking of you as we eat our Christmas leftovers. Lots of Love to you both, Wassail!

# Jored, January 2nd 2014

You did the right thing, which in no way devalues your feat. To the contrary, it is a testimony to your intelligence and common sense. Survival is job one. You are heroes and a beacon. Stay safe. Fortitudine Vincimus.

# James Rich , January 2nd 2014

Can’t imagine what your state of minds were and how your bodies must have felt being stressed after so much sustained exertion with limited food and yet you made such a brave and vital decision. Hats off to you, more and more respect from me, and wonderful to hear such companionship and support to each other. So a few meals more to get you on track takes absolutely nothing away from what you are achieving. Keep it up guys, amazing effort. James

# Andy chilton, January 2nd 2014

Keep going lads - your decision was a pragmatic, life-saving one and in no way undermines your herculean achievements. Tarka, I hope I get the chance to hear about your exploits in person the next time you come to see mia and jon ( i am a friend of theirs - i met you briefly at their wedding.  Its amazing what you are both doing.Keep looking after one another.

# Ben Goad, January 2nd 2014

Gents, a quote springs to mind, “I thought you would prefer alive donkey as. Opposed to a dead lion"needless to say you are both far from donkey’s, you both have the fortitude , determination and gusto take on what can be described a rather tough way to make a living. I am fully of admiration of what you have done and what you about to finish. In short your mum will be proud!

# Polly Baldwin, January 2nd 2014

There is no shame in this, in fact I think that it is harder to know when it is time to change the plan than it is to just carry on regardless. Get home safely Tarka to Katie and Boogie who are quite rightly so proud of you and excited to have you home !!
Best Wishes for the rest of your heroic journey!!  Love Pol and Beaufort xx

# Jason Peary , January 3rd 2014

Without wanting to criticize what is a marvelous achievement, I do wonder if too much food was left in the early depots and that insufficient food was taken on to the polar plateau. The team’s speed is fine and they will be finished well before the 110 days food they allowed themselves when they set off. I can therefore only infer that a miscalculation has occurred in relation to the food depots. I hope full details on the depot laying is provided in due course. This will assist future aspiring explorers make a judgment on the feasibility on undertaking this holy grail expedition without the need for ressupply.

# Luigi Rizzo, January 3rd 2014

This jorney has become even more close to my hart. It’s really the greatest challenge because it has passed through moments like this. Keep going Ben, keep going Tarka, we all keep following you.

# dagmar, January 3rd 2014

good lucl to you both!

# Scott In Austin, TX, January 3rd 2014

It’s interesting to me that in reading your posts up to this point the journey seemed to be going relatively easy for you.  Sure, grueling, monotonous, tiring…but not with the suffering of the earlier journeys you are emulating. 

Reading this post, however, really brings into focus the difficulty of what you’re doing.  I think you’ve demonstrated the magnitude.  Obviously you did the right thing, you probably wouldn’t have gotten much farther without collapsing and/or succumbing to frostbite or something worse.  I’m glad that this happened because it shows us outsiders what you’re really going through and what a toll this experience has taken on you.

Rest up, get healthy, and finish the expedition with pride.

# Art O'Neill, January 3rd 2014

It is easy for us to say this and that while we are sitting on our comfy and warm chairs thinking about what to eat next. Please accept my recognition, if it means anything, that you two have achieved something rest of us can only dream. You will remember these days for the rest of your life’s and no doubt will be thankful for the pain and suffering that will remind to the generations to come that “you have indeed lived”. I salute you.

# Moshe, January 4th 2014

Keep it up guys. You’re doing great. Onwards!!

# Tony Scott- Dynamic, January 7th 2014

Wow a what truly remarkable achievement gentlemen you should be very proud , I know I certainly am. A wonderful piece of writing which I am sure had everyone gripped to the computer
along with a few   tears on the keyboard , well certainly tears on mine . True explorers and heroes for sure -  All the best for the remaining journey.

# Kevin Dempsey, Ireland, January 7th 2014

Wow…......I wish I was back on the ice!
Whilst I & many others have been to our own ‘cliff edge’ on various adventures, only you Ben & Tarka have the right to make day to day decisions or even judgements on those decisions. The purists & statisticians may have their rules but you guys are breaking awesome new ground anyway so rock on. Stay safe.

# Sarah Hirigoyen, January 8th 2014

Dear Ben and Tarka, WOW. What an incredible endeavour you have both taken on! What’s the word for:  a giant leap up or two from a wild adventure of Epic proportions?? We need to make one up after this!?..Also, it is so incredible to be privy to your minds, Live, all the way from Antartica. You are both really inspiring me with your devotion, resilience and humanity.. and Ben: reading your description had me on the edge of my seat until the end. Please keep writing like that. Here you are surviving the unsurvivable. I am so proud of you both. Sending much love.
Sarah H.(your ex-psychologist for these expeditions).

# Leah, Yukon Canada , January 14th 2014

Thank you for sharing your journey and yourselves.  You are an inspiration to all of us.

I’m trying to picture what it’s like for you guys in the wind, snow and the vast whiteness.  I hope you have strong legs, fast skis, no headwinds, and no trail breaking for the remainder of your trip!

No one can EVER take this experience from you.

# Kristin Moe Krohn, January 31st 2014

No doubt this was the right decision. It is way better to be a living hero than a dead adventurer . . .
Stay healthy and keep on enjoying the beauty and the challenges of the wilderness!

# Uncle Pete, January 2nd 2014

No shame there chaps - absolutely the right and only thing to do. I have to confess the last couple of posts suggested all was not quite according to plan! Making the Pole was an incredible feat in itself. Making it back in one piece - with all digits - is what we want now and I am sure you will be back on track soon. Thinking of you and wishing you well and assuring you that we will keep behind you and see you as inspiration for our New Year!

# Chris Barrow, January 2nd 2014

Inspiring. You are both heroes.

# Peter, January 2nd 2014

You guys have impressed me ever since I learned about your expedition last year while you were still preparing and practicing. Your team spirit, your commitment, your perseverance, your incredibly hard work towards your goal have inspired me immensely every single day. Especially since I have struggled for a while now to find my own goal to live and work hard for.

You have tried so hard to stick to your plan to finish your expedition unsupported, but you made the right decision today IMHO not to put your long term health (and lives) at risk. The change of status doesn’t change your achievements nor what your expedition is about for me. I will continue to follow and be inspired by your progress every single day.

All the best for the rest of your journey!

# Tara Carlisle, January 2nd 2014

Can’t stop crying!!! You are heroes. It was the right decision and your prize is your friendship and your humility.  Stay safe and stay positive. Can’t begin to imagine how hard the decision was but it was the right one and how lucky you are to have each other. Will follow the adventure until its end. Xx

# AndreaTP, January 2nd 2014

Well I admit I was shocked when I saw the plane in the picture. Shocked. Then I read it all.
You did the right thing. Nothing more to say. I love you guys, stay safe and heal yourselves.

# Deacon Patrick, January 2nd 2014

“As fast as we can, as slow as we must!” That’s my motto for life with a bludgeoned brain and it certainly seems applicable to the wisdom of the choices you both have made throughout this epic journey. The journey may look and feel different, because it is different, but it goes on in the same spirit it was begun. Beautiful! And I’d wager that if one were to weigh the mile-pounds (pound-miles?) of Scott’s team received support for, you still have wiggle room before “catching up"with the support he received from his “booster rockets”.

Well and beautifully done, lads! Well and beautifully done. May God startle you with joy and wisdom!

With abandon,

# Kristoffer, January 2nd 2014

I was stunned to see the plane too.  To be honest, Ben, I thought you were losing weight before you even hit the Beardmore.

# Bridget, January 2nd 2014

Thank you for sharing your experiences.  The writing is wonderful and what you are doing, an inspiration.  I’m glad you made the decision to keep safe.  From my own experience of an “imperfect”  journey, there’s a huge sense of strength from realising that some things are more important than doing exactly what you set out to do.  Good call and safe onward journey.

# Andrea, January 2nd 2014

Even if maybe everyone ” was stunned to see the plane too.”,  all this stunning have been dropt away with the understanding that the supporting consisted in being few minutes of passing a bag of several (eight) days’s meals. In other wards,  even if maybe everyone ” was stunned to see the plane too.”,  thinking about a quit, the expedition is there, in place, no new element alters it, they did not left the place and returned back to it, and not the inanition is the grand feature of this expedition.As nether the logistic of preparing it makes not the center of this expedition, just makes the framework of it.
As till now, this human expedition is getting with every day of it the nature’s point of view about the South Pole.

# Andrea, January 2nd 2014

Otherwise, this daily received correspondence in the expedition, the working out of the satellite devices, and alike, represents a mean of support, mental and with ideas.

# Rich Townsend, January 2nd 2014

I remember someone famous once saying something about live donkeys and dead lions. I think this decision puts you, Ben and Tarka, in rather good company, no?

# Kristoffer, January 2nd 2014

“By contrast, Tarka and I pulled 200kg each at the start, heavier loads per man than Scott’s weakest two ponies each dragged.”
Incorrect.  You started off with 200 kg each (approx 441 lbs each); Scott’s diary entry for 6 November 1911 indicates that the two weakest ponies, Chinaman and Jehu, were each pulling over 450 lbs.

# Matt Healy , January 2nd 2014

Goodness me, what an odd thing to write given the circumstances. Perhaps kicking a person when there down a little, don’t you think.

# Rosie Vidovix Unsworth, January 2nd 2014


Did you see my comment earlier:
‘There are those who dream
There are those who dare’

There is a third line ‘And there are those who criticise…’

# Jason, January 2nd 2014

Wow, my respect for you both has only increased as I read this!  You do not need to justify or make excuses for your decision to call for assistance. You went to your limits, and thankfully had the awareness and humility to stop there and admit them. No shame in that. Your writing brought me to tears - particularly the bit about discovering compassion to be more important than glory. That for your honesty and revealing your deep humanity to us. My guess is that this particular experience will shape you more than anything else on this expedition once you look back on it.

# Andrea, January 3rd 2014

If you please, a note:
Correct, but there must be added that the other forms of support mentioned by Ben Saunders, with witch the Scott expedition has been made, are acurate.

# Chas Simpson, January 2nd 2014

Ben and Tarka - your Herculean effort and outstanding commitment to an incredible journey are not in the least bit diminished in any way by the change of “status"and your honesty and integrity shine forth from your writing. My very best wishes for the rest of your journey. You are heroes both !

# RR, January 3rd 2014

The best post to come out of this expedition yet. I agree with everyone who commented above, you guys are such an inspiration, with or without a resupply. Ben, your tribute to Tarka nearly brought me to tears. I’m so happy you’re safe and wish you the best on the rest of your return journey. Oh and one last thing: haters gonna hate! Don’t give them a another thought.

# AlisonP, January 2nd 2014

You are both still incredible heroes to me, even moreso as I read todays posting, crying all the way.  I have been worried for several days now that you were doing too much each day, pushing yourselves too hard, and i was afraid that you did not have enough food to sustain you in what was left, based on some numbers you gave about a week ago.  I am so relieved that you were able to get a resupply plane, a good day of rest and warmth, and enough food in your tummies.  No question that I will continue to watch every day, and cheer you on.  Nothing you said or did today in any way lessens my view of you guys.  Rather the opposite - that you had the wisdom to do the right thing.  You continue to inspire.

Tarka, you are awesome to put some of Ben’s stuff into your sledge without telling him. Awesome.  That tore open my heart when I read it.

# Alexis kaloudis, January 2nd 2014

Nothing is more precious than human life. Thank god you are ok (and refueled) now. It was obvious that something was going wrong. That’s why I was checking for the second update the whole day. Your post was actually a relief and your decision the right one. You still have a lot of miles to cover, ... don’t “worry”.
Best wishes to both of you.

# Catherine Ross, January 2nd 2014

Absolutely the right decision. What you are achieving (and have already achieved ) is quite simply REMARKABLE. Your support is overwhelming from us here in blighty!

# Richard McGehee, January 2nd 2014

We are glad you were able to recognize the signs of hypothermia in time. Failure to recognize it is one of its dangers. There will be plenty of time for more adventures. Looking forward to more blogs.
Happy trials to you.

# Pete Heady, January 2nd 2014

You and Tarka have performed admirably, hauling more than simply a sledge and 200kg of supplies. I have read very word you have passed along and felt as if I were traveling along with you and Tarka, just outside the frame of your photographs, silent witness to a remarkable feat of human endurance. Congratulations on all you have accomplished, all the correct decisions for all the right reasons.
Keep dreaming for without them we are all diminished.

# Rebecca Hogue, January 2nd 2014

I am glad to hear you are safe! I was worried when we didn’t see an update - and found myself checking regularly awaiting an update. I’m relieved to hear you called for help when you needed it. I hope the days rest gives you new found strength for the journey home!

# Tom, January 2nd 2014

It was the right thing to do! It won’t change your accomplishments at all. You are an inspiration!

# Luke Brown, January 2nd 2014

Sounds like the answer to your question of why you leave the house. Well done, gents.

# Ian , January 2nd 2014

Keep going guys.. And correct decisions to realise that you were in trouble. There’s some ‘negative’ and petty comments on here and I feel today’s update is not the time. I would also like to say that I eagerly await the blogs of your unsupported South Pole missions.

# mikef, January 2nd 2014

Nothing to be sorry for or explain. You still have a long journey ahead of you and anyone who seems to think you trip was diminished I’m sure is welcome to try it themselves. You are both alive and safe and that (in the end) is all that matters. I have been following your journey and will continue to do so with the same excitement that I had when I discovered your journey. Good luck boys!

# Diane Griffith, January 2nd 2014

I said a few weeks ago that I couldn’t think of any two people on the planet that I admire more than you and Tarka, Ben.  That goes doubly now as it takes so much more courage and strength of heart to call for and accept help when it’s required than to soldier on in some macho delusion of “must make the goal at all costs.”  You’ve both proven over and over again that you are incomparable athletes, expert logisticians and way finders, but now you’ve demonstrated your most estimable qualities: boundless compassion and true wisdom.  Safe home, dear fellows.

# Kristoffer, January 2nd 2014

For me, “expert logisticians” is very much in doubt, as ending up with half a day’s rations despite a prior period of half rations is not many people’s definition of “expert logisticians”.  Furthermore, Ben’s frank admission of failing to meet mileage targets runs counter to what we have consistently heard from the expedition staff here, which consisted of them saying “they are on schedule and making great progress” ad nauseam.

# Diane Griffith, January 2nd 2014

Kristoffer, all I can say is I wish we could vote you off the island now, so to speak.

# Andrea, January 3rd 2014

If may I, it is visible now that here was invisible the hell of the expedition.

# Amy, January 2nd 2014

So grateful to hear that you managed to recognise what was happening. It could have been so very different and there is no failure here… You’re both alive and such an amazing inspiration. Myself, Richard and the kids feel so lucky to be able to follow your amazing journey. Stay safe, stay warm and stay alive!! Xxx

# Marlene Speth., January 2nd 2014

Dear Ben and Tarka,
I have been reading your blog all along! Amazing achievement both physically and mentally!
You both have been training, working and preparing very hard for the trip and you both have shown extreme mental strength! Keep it up :).

# Richard Crawford-Small, January 2nd 2014

“Sorry I’m late”. That is classic Tarka! I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting you Ben, but you are both heroes - Tarka for being Tarka and going above and beyond, and you for being an exceptional leader and not allowing pride to get in the way of doing the right thing. Thank you for looking after my friend, enjoy the rest, the full belly and get home safely.

# Bill Taylor, January 2nd 2014

Your report gets over to me how close you two were to being lost to us. I am glad you made the call, but it was almost to late. One of the reasons for two is for both to keep a watchful eye on the other. The risk being you both go down together.

Good call! What a support team! Stay safe, well done and thanks for the blog. They failed to communicate how much was being taken out of you, until todays.

# Mark Nichols, January 2nd 2014

As Theodore Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

I admire the courage to set off on this journey and I am awed by the courage to know your limits and to honor them.

# Kristoffer, January 2nd 2014

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
-Winston Churchill

“To announce that there must be no criticism of the president… is morally treasonable to the American public.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

“Few people have the wisdom to prefer the criticism that would do them good, to the praise that deceives them.”
-Francois de La Rochefoucauld

# Jerry Colonna, January 2nd 2014

Of course the value of criticism is proportional to the intent and credibility of the critic. Credibility borne from having walked a similar path, hauled a similar load, sports an invaluable . Such perspective when shared with an intent to hearten and strengthen, to push onward, is best of all.

# John Brain, January 2nd 2014

Kristoffer. Clearly there are a number of questions to be asked and answered. I have, and for sometime have had,  a number of major concerns. But surely there is a time and a place for everything and this is not the time. Given their current circumstances, Ben and Tarka have demonstrably made the right call today, and we must all be thankful and continue to offer personal and moral support for what is already quite an achievement.

# Kristoffer, January 2nd 2014

John, Ben has certainly made the right call.

Jerry, have you learned nothing from Swithinbank’s incorrect advice regarding crevasses on the plateau?  Experience does not automatically guarantee credibility, or in the case of Fiennes, even honesty.

# Alastair Humphreys, January 3rd 2014

Kristoffer: seriously, dude. I don’t know who you are. But I’d suggest that doing something a fraction as inspiring, challenging and daring as this expedition would be a more worthwhile use of your time than commenting on this blog.

# David B., January 3rd 2014

You guys have reached the human limits and for that, all I can say is RESPECT.
You both can only be consider as great achievers.
And you will come out of this exped with such a unique friendship for each other, one of the best gifts of this ‘change of status’ part.
Thanks for letting us be part of it, it’s a great honor.

# Rosie Vidovix Unsworth, January 2nd 2014

Ben and Tarka

There are those who dream
And there are those who dare

We all know which category you both belong to. You are fine men, please don’t let this change of status diminish your accomplishment.


# Ripley Davenport, January 2nd 2014

Good call. I stand and applaud you both.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

Stand tall guys. Stand proud.

# Ben Thackwray, January 2nd 2014

Stay safe, great effort, enjoy the rest of your time.

# Erin K., January 2nd 2014

Tears.  I’ve been following your journey for several+ years now, and not once have I ever been anything but amazed by your strength, character, and perseverance.  Difficult moments (or an avalanche of difficult moments) happen, and it’s how you face them and deal with them that are the true test of one’s character and self.  And when you are honest, and authentic, and do the right thing, that’s what matters.  Friendship is what matters.  And perhaps, all along, this is what the Scott Expedition, after 10 years of planning has really (partially, of course!) been about: you finding the right team, and that one person (Tarka), to show yourselves but also all of us, not only what the body is capable of, but the mind, spirit, and soul.  I feel that years from now, perhaps you’ll be more proud of the fact that you made THIS decision, now, then you will have felt if you had found a way to complete this journey unsupported.  I’ve been sharing your journey with my 6-yo son who is more thrilled by the idea of visiting Antarctica than anyplace else (Africa a close second), and I will be most proud to share this day with him to show him that friendship (and common sense) is truly what matters most.  Thank you, Ben and Tarka and the entire team (and sponsors) for sharing this with us.  Sending a million fist bumps your way.

# Abel Blancas Morán, January 2nd 2014

The expedition you are doing goes beyond a title and a facebook/newspaper image of you in the South Pole.
All my respect and admiration. We will keep on following not only until you are back at the base but also the next expeditions to come.
Following live from Mexico City.


# Luke Hull, January 2nd 2014

I felt something was up when there was no blog this morning, my daily ritual these past few months of catching up on your progress over breakfast was today disrupted and left me with a feeling of nervousness all day. So it’s great to hear that you are comparatively well and despite the huge disappointment you must be feeling, I’m sure everyone especially your families must be hugely   relieved that at that moment you bravely stopped and put the tent up you possibly saved both of your lives.A similar decision that had to be made by Shackleton all those years ago!

So nothing has changed for me and your progress will still be the first thing on my mind when I wake tomorrow morning.

Chin up and best wishes for the rest of your journey.

# Andy Lawrence, January 2nd 2014

The only sensible call you could make. It was a bold decision to go without a reserve and that didn’t pay off but continuing this expedition to the end is what you started out to do. This is not defeat but it is a warning. Stay safe, finish the job and well done.

And @#Kristoffer, feel free to try it yourself

# Bobby Saunders, January 2nd 2014

I am thankful for the choice you made, Ben. You and Tarka are withstanding unimaginable conditions and reaching if not surpassing the limits of human condition. In this endeavor, your experience and wisdom has won the day, and very likely saved life and limb. I am relieved to read that you both are safe, rested, and ready to resume. Press on. Finish strong.

# Richard Pierce, January 2nd 2014

Dear Ben, dear Tarka,

A few years ago, I and some friends were discussing the possibility of completing Scott’s journey, and when we came to looking at the details, decided it would mean 18 months away from family and friends because we would have to spend one winter laying depots before making the journey itself. That was one of the main reasons we never moved forwards on the plans. And, just for the sake of honesty, I should explain that I volunteered to act as support at Scott Base rather than even venturing into the heavy-duty depot-laying or, God forbid, doing the trip myself (I was 49 then, but even so, my nicotine and alcohol consumption has increased since then rather than decreased).

The purpose of that first paragraph is to say this - that your journey now becomes the journey that Scott made, because you could have had those rations dropped by plane before your march or have laid a depot yourselves. What people choose to forget is that Scott used the best technology and equipment he knew of in his day to make the trip, and so, similarly, did Amundsen.

When no blog appeared this morning and you hadn’t moved, I immediately worried that something drastic might have gone wrong. I am so pleased that you both are ok, though not so pleased that you and Tarka have gone through feelings of guilt on top of the physical pain you’ve been enduring.

For me, the status of the expedition hasn’t changed. For me, when you get back to the hut at Cape Evans, and you will get back there in one piece, you will have achieved what no-one has achieved before, and you will have completed a journey which first began on 1st November 1911.

And when you get back to the hut, maybe you’ll recognise and remember some of this:

“I imagine the door opening and some windswept, frosty-bearded explorer walking in as if he’d just returned from the south. I can hear them tramping to the front door on that first day in November 1911, ready to start out on their trek. I see them looking back into the long room, marking down all they wanted to remember, a final picture of home before the desolation and the cold of the march. I sense the hope with which they left here. Their story is imprinted on these wooden walls, on these shelves, bunk beds and floors. It speaks of unfulfilled hope and tragic destinies, not of human vanity. These were honest men, men of endeavour, regardless of their skills, capabilities and brittle personalities.”
From Dead Men -

And then, dear Ben and dear Tarka, you will realise that you will have fulfilled their hopes, that the spirits which still wander Cape Evans will welcome you with open arms, and with thanks for showing the world that the journey can be made, can be completed, and that a race that was never there for the winning has now finally been run.

God Speed.


# Richard Pierce, January 2nd 2014

CORRECTION - I meant “one summer” depot-laying, of course, plus one summer for the journey itself. Apols. R

# Kristoffer, January 2nd 2014

Marvelous post Richard. 8-)

# Intrepid, January 2nd 2014

Dear Richard, Your last paragraph has brought me into tears for the second time. I share the same sentiments and thank you for expressing what has unleashed itself from so deeply inside.

# Richard Pierce, January 2nd 2014

Thanks Kristoffer and Intrepid. :-) R

# Mal Owen, January 2nd 2014

Once again Richard you have expressed the thoughts of the majority with such eloquence.

# Richard Pierce, January 3rd 2014


You are too kind.


# Mal Owen, January 3rd 2014

Dear Richard,
Mal = female and therefore not Malcolm ... ..A mistake many before you have made !
Not to worry :-)  Lol

# Richard Pierce, January 3rd 2014


I’m mortified.



# Ann Pagel, January 2nd 2014

Nothing is more important than your safety. I am so glad that you are both okay and getting the rest and refueling that you need. Be safe, you two.

# Jamie Ross, January 2nd 2014

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing”

Theodore Roosevelt.

# Deacon Patrick, January 2nd 2014

One question I have for the support team or after Ben and Tarka return is what were the reasons for not using pemmican as a mainstay or even only food? Hearty grass-fed tallow contains so much of the energy and nutrition needed in cold endurance activities. 2 2/3 pounds = 8,000 calories (not sure how that compares to the weight of their current day’s supply, but also not all calories are created equal). 266 pounds for 100 days’ food/person is not bad.

# Scott Expedition Team, January 5th 2014

Hi Deacon. Food must be long life or freeze-dried to stay in date for the four month duration of the expedition. Pemmican doesn’t provide the same nutritional balance that Ben and Tarka consume through the high calorie, and in particular high carbohydrate rations including freeze dried food, energy bars and hot energy drinks they’ve taken.

# bev jackson, January 2nd 2014

This has moved me to tears. Don’t ever feel that you have to justify your decision to anyone, you have done absolutely the right thing for you. We all know how it ended for Scott and he had far more support what with dogs, horses and men. You are both heroes, take a good rest and a few good feeds and then carry on doing what you have been doing so well .

# Andy Lawrence, January 2nd 2014

All of us are facing a challenge. Mine is getting my body back into some kind of shape after a major health scare. I started at 124 kilos, I’ve lost 17, I have another 17 to go. I’m struggling but I can make it WITH the support of family and friends. Today I walked 11.5 miles in 3.5 hours, in June that would have been impossible. What’s keeping me inspired, amongst a few other things, is YOU and you have not let me or anybody else down. Stay safe.

# Richard Pierce, January 3rd 2014




# ale, January 2nd 2014

Dear Ben and Tarka,

Thank you for sharing again this painful post with me. I am so sorry you could not cope with your dreams you can not imagine, I’m almost crying…
You did the right thing and from my personal point of view you are even bigger heroes now! You are human beings (not real gods) and you are into a incredible journey!
You are above any possible and resonable limit.
Are you really going to continue? MITICIIIII!!!!
I will not stop reading this blog now! I will only stop once you will say it’s finished and there’s no more to read or learn!!!
Resupply? Only 8 days of food? Then you had a big dinner to celebrate 70 days out there!!!
I hope my msg, among all the others, will give you a little more confidence in your fans following you from home!
p.s. may I suggest that the name of TARKA gets a place on the logo of the expedition, T-shirt and in similar places? :-)

# Jason H, January 2nd 2014

Good call!  You and your team have taught us so much. I’m glad you’re safe.

# arthur, January 2nd 2014

guys, you are even bigger heroes now than before. It takes real people to make hard calls and thats what you did, well done.

# Mikkel Frese, January 2nd 2014

Absolutely the right decision! Good work.. What you guys have archived so far is truly amazing. Get some rest and finish strong:-)

# Pam, January 2nd 2014

You’ve done it well in my book! As you well know, is so much more to an adventure than going from points A - B. Smart decisions are a part of the success. Keep up the good work!

# Rich NEMO Sweeten, January 2nd 2014

The right decision men.  After reading this post that truly reflects how difficult this has been, I am now MORE impressed with the magnitude of the endeavor and the superhuman strength you have shown thus far.  Rest up and press on!  NEMO

# Matt, January 2nd 2014

Absolute heroes! So impressed and very inspired. Thank you.

# Antoinette, January 2nd 2014


# Oli B, January 2nd 2014

Ben Saunders,

I have met a few people in the past fifteen years.  I have read books and keep up with the news.

And I can (still) honestly say that I have NEVER, in my life, come across anyone deliberately attempting ANYTHING as challenging as this. 

Frankly, the idea that the adventure is in some way diminished because you had some supplies dropped off is (to me), bonkers.

Stuff the (pub bore) critics.  You have captured imaginations around the world and you are both awesome.

I have many many questions to ask you though, so if you COULD get a move on, that would be great.

Your Friend,


# Giles English, January 2nd 2014

Chaps you have achieved so much and continue to do so, your real heroes and we at Bremont are so proud of you.  What I have learnt through near death experiences is that health and life to yourself and loved ones means more than anything else, nothing else maters. Look after yourselves. Giles

# Big Rob, January 2nd 2014

Yesterday people were rescued from the Akadmik Shokalskiy which is trapped in the ice off Antarctica. They were tracing the, ill fated, expedition of   Sir Douglas Mawson. This expedition, and yours, have clearly highlighted the unimaginable courage of the early Antarctic explorers. The power of the Antarctic hasn’t diminished over the last 100 years nor the courage of those who set out to challenge it.
Modern technology doesn’t reduce the Antarctic’s power to disrupt the best laid plans but does enable the consequences to be less “ill fated”.
You made the right decision to look after your team despite being physically and mentally drained and so recreated a part of Scotts experience that you hadn’t planned.
Well done. Eat, sleep and get well.

# Derek O, January 3rd 2014

@big rob: Exactly. There should be no shame in calling for support. This decision does not call into question the expedition’s purpose, commitment or effort. Instead, it reinforces the awesome challenge of polar exploration. The Antarctic (unlike Everest), isn’t ready to give in to mere mortals, even with today’s superior technology.
Godspeed, Ben and Tarka.

# Jonny Rankin, January 2nd 2014

Dear Ben, Dear Tarka,

I’ve followed closely, shared and RT’d your posts throughout this expedition.

Restocking of vital supplies - as in life giving vital - in no way diminishes my excitement when I log onto Facebook in the morning and check your progress. I love it.

Like reading a book as it is written!

I’d much rather you got to the end and shared the whole experience, in celebration of Scott and your own achievements.

I cannot enjoy the finer detail of your trip, attend talks and read any resulting book if you perish on the ice.

You both rule massively. You are modern day heroes, you are my Scott. Whilst I enjoy reading about Scott I am actually living through your expedition.

Anyone detracting from your efforts is doing so from the comfort of their keyboard. Few if any understand your efforts - I don’t, no matter how many Ranulph Fiennes books I read!

You rule, both of you. Stay safe. Walk strong and rest well.

I hope to meet you one day and to celebrate your efforts in person.


Jonny Rankin

# Kristoffer, January 2nd 2014

“Anyone detracting from your efforts is doing so from the comfort of their keyboard. Few if any understand your efforts - I don’t, no matter how many Ranulph Fiennes books I read!”
I’ve written about Fiennes’ faulty reasoning before, and I’ll say it again.  Fiennes’ reasoning-and yours-arbitrarily dismisses anyone and everyone who writes about someone without living like they did.  I wonder how willing you are to dismiss the historians you respect because Fiennes effectively tells you to do so?

# Lucy Scott (Scott's great granddaughter), January 3rd 2014


Dear Mr Nelson-Kilger,

Why do you find it necessary to comment on so many other people’s posts?  What do you hope to achieve by it?  Personally, I don’t think it’s appropriate.  I have resisted commenting to you for a long time, but I really think you need to learn when to stop, frankly.

I’m curious, and just an example of the value of experience…why do you think when employers advertise jobs, that in the specifications, they ask for people with relevant experience? 

For an expedition logistics role, I think your CV would be the first in the bin!

There’s a huge amount of very good writings from people on matters without having experienced them within the annals of literature.  However, a writer or a critic, in fact, without relevant experience, needs to demonstrate an understanding that there is, of course, an inevitable limitation in his or her field of knowledge and therefore his or her thoughts or theories on the matter.  And write accordingly, and in an informed, and balanced manner.

You can read as many history books or source material on polar expeditions and quote as many figures as you like but without knowing how it feels to walk 20 plus miles a day in those conditions, (where there are also several variables to consider - surface conditions, terrain, temperature, wind chill, visibility, altitude, daily variances in the level of energy of the athletes, accumulated physical and mental toll, etc, etc) you will never have the same understanding of what it is like mentally or physically.  Or in fact have an understanding of the logistical requirements of planning and orchestrating an unsupported expedition for 1800 miles across Antarctic terrain. In case you failed to realise, when Ben and Tarka started out..dragging 200kg is actually dragging a fifth of a ton of food and equipment.  Your petty corrections and comments are completely void of any actual practical reality!

While I’m commenting Kristoffer…people are allowed to have their own opinions on Ranulph Fiennes and his writing on Scott, without being berated by you!

Kind regards,

Lucy Scott

# Amanda, January 2nd 2014

I have been following since day 1 after hearing your TED talk on exploration and adventure.  To be honest, the specifics of the journey have never been of interest to me.  In fact, when some commenters seek additional information about the details, I quickly become bored.  No, I’m far more fascinated with the intent.  It is remarkable to consider the spirit of a person willing to push themselves to the extreme limits of physical and mental challenge for precious little reward other than being able to say you accomplished something so rare.

Yesterday, I listened to another TED talk by Diana Nyad who last summer at the age of 64 became the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West without a shark cage.  It took 35 years and 5 attempts before she accomplished her goal of swimming for two days and nights more than 100 miles.  It’s simply remarkable.  Her journey was hardly unsupported, but is still a roaring achievement.

This is a very long-winded way to say that while the nomenclature of your expedition may have changed a bit, nothing about the endurance, determination, courage and adventure has changed in either of you.  I will continue to live vicariously through you both as you continue on your way now more fortified and very much alive.

Thank you for sharing this with us.

# George Chapman, January 2nd 2014

Wow. The moment I saw the plane I wondered if something had happened. I thought for the past week you were doing really well but I did not know your were running low on rations. I’m glad to see you did make the decision to ask for help. The frostbite and near exhaustion was a serious situation. I hope you got some good food delivered I’m sure you’re getting tired of those meals in a bag. I feel your pain about having to do this and call in for help but I’m sure at the end of the day it’s the best thing. Had not been closely following you the last day or so since we were only seeing movements once a day. I did notice this morning we received a short post. Praying all will go well for you the rest of the trip and you will make it down without needing more help more. Maybe you can slow down some since you should have plenty of food now even if it takes to day 120 or more. Not sure if there is some sort of actual deadline on getting out of there. Take care guys and I will be following you till the end.

# Allison & Mark, January 2nd 2014

Thank God you are safe. We were worried and I almost called at MCPO to check on a live update earlier today.
Both of you are an inspiration. We are following your every step in awe. High praise for you decision making. Not easy but the right one to make.
Stay safe.

# Sharyle, January 2nd 2014

Words cannot express how glad I am that you made the call for resupply and that you’re safe and resting.  You are both heroes.  Even though I’ve never met you, I feel I’ve gotten to know you a bit from following your adventure. You are both amazing.  You are in the same league as Shackleton.  Strong enough to do what needs to be done and smart enough to know when enough is enough. Take good care of yourselves and return safely.

# Leah, January 2nd 2014

The tears are still rolling down my cheeks as I write this…. you guys are amazing and thank God you called in for supplies.  Your first and foremost mission is to get back in one piece! Assisted or unassisted who cares!!! You are amazing in what you’ve accomplished so far and I am in owe of your ability to communicate so beutifully and honestly through it all.
Your friendship, love and humility in light of everything you two are going through is most inspiring.
I hope my children get to meet you two one day. You give me hope for this world we are living in.
May the force be with you all the way back home!!!!

# Theresa Bristow, January 2nd 2014

Sitting here in the warmth of my living room I can only wonder at your achievements. To acknowledge when you needed to call for help is one thing, but to be able to carry on with so much humility is another. Regardless of the poundage pulled, you are there doing the task. It is easy to criticise from the comfort of our living rooms. I, like the majority, won’t be.
You’re in my thoughts
Theresa, Nottingham

# McDowell Crook, January 2nd 2014

Stay strong guys and ignore what critics might say. Your achievements thus far are legendary, hands down. I’m just glad you’re both safe and were able to get the assistance you needed so quickly. You absolutely made the right call. Keep on truckin’!

# Martin Jansen, January 2nd 2014

Ben, Tarka,

I had a small lump in my throat when reading todays blog post and I’m usually not someone to weep easily. I can imagine that the decision to call for help was a hard one, but given the circumstances it seems like a no-brainer. Also, the fact that your endeavor isn’t unsupported anymore changes absolutely nothing for me and most folks around here. What you chaps are doing is incredible and something you can be proud of—notwithstanding that a guy dropped by with his plane and helped you out with some food when you needed it most.

NB: Big kudos to Andy and Troy for getting the supplies to the boys that fast. Chapeau.

Here is for a few more weeks of fun in the snow. Godspeed and enjoy the rest of your trip! :-)

# Guy Raz, January 2nd 2014


It’s Guy Raz here from the TED Radio Hour.  We are cheering for you here in Washington DC!  Your journey is inspiring and your spirit is motivating to all of us watching.  Onward!

Guy Raz and the TED Radio Hour team
Washington DC

And anyone interested in Ben’s segment from the TED Radio Hour can hear it here:

# Matt HEALY , January 2nd 2014

The absolutely superb effort you both have made is in no way, I believe, diminished buy the decision you have had to make. You both have my full support and I will be hanging on every post from now until to arrive back at your starting point having successfully achieved your goal of retracing Scott’s steps. You both are an inspiration. I wish I had a millionth of your courage and drive and talent. Well done guys, truly brilliant rest up, eat and take care.

# Lee Ha, January 2nd 2014

In all ways you have done amazing things and continue to do them. We will continue to watch in awe and know your training, knowledge, compassion and common sense will be what sees you through to Ross Island. Take each moment as it comes and hold your heads high! Still cheering as loudly as ever from Vermont!

# Scott H, January 2nd 2014

Unsupported or assisted, you two have pushed to an edge that only a few will ever achieve let alone cross. I commend both of you and thank you for taking us on this journey as we sit in our comfortable heated homes and sleep in our warm beds. If I should ever meet either of you it would be my please to buy you a pint or five. Stay safe.

# Intrepid, January 2nd 2014

Dear Ben and Tarka,

I couldn’t be prouder. What you have given is more than seems possible.

It is a gigantic relief to know you are both doing okay.

Ben, your writing will bring tears to readers even outside the context of this blog. It is a beautiful and touching portrayal of the two of you and your expedition.

Tarka, thank goodness you have a heart that is so gorgeous and and a body that is graciously resilient.

May you always stay in each other’s regards.

Blessings for a safe journey to the end.

PS. Before this post appeared, it occurred to me this morning to consider thanking all The Scott Expedition sponsors, so here it is:

To all the whom have helped sponsor The Scott Expedition,

Thank you for supporting one of the most amazingly beautiful recorded endeavors taking place in one of the harshest environments in the world. Your decision helped bring to life all the intentions as well as all that will be (and has already been) achieved during Ben and Tarka’s journey. Your support is appreciated enormously.

With venerable gratitude,

# Richard W, January 2nd 2014

I am sure you guys know you have done astoundingly well in every respect. I always knew you would take it right to the limit. Well done for making the call to keep yourselves safe. So good to hear you are both recharging your batteries. All the very best of luck and good health to you both.

# emma, January 2nd 2014

I think you guys are truly inspirational, how you can overcome such adversity! Keep going and looking out for one another, we are all wishing you the best. There is no shame what so ever in asking for sustenance when you are putting your bodies through such extreme conditions.

Ps the way you write your blog makes me almost imagine I am there with you… award winning!

# stephen worker, January 2nd 2014

Truly herculean efforts guys , immense respect we are all wishing you a safe return , glad you made a sound decision before the cold clouded your judgment .

# bee, January 2nd 2014

Thank you for your wise and timely decision. Once again you amaze and inspire us…in so many ways. Continue on, knowing you are admired and supported from afar. Stay well and safe.


# lucy I , January 2nd 2014

what a great piece of writing. You already won when you decided to to call for the plane; you made a brave and humble decision that has undoubtedly saved both your lives. keep winning, good luck!!

# DaddyDon, January 2nd 2014

No shame asking or help when help is needed guys, good luck .....

# wonderwoman, January 2nd 2014

You made the right call on the last minute. Respect for you and life. You have all the support we can give from far. We send you love and pray for you.

# Rob Swan , January 2nd 2014

28 years ago three of us reached the South Pole ONE WAY .
For MONTHS after I was struggling with the mind and body .
Tarka and Ben ARE , and WILL continue to make and a journey that I respect and understand more than most . Good work on the resupply guys .. crack on . as ever with you every step of the way .. Rob

# Ken, January 2nd 2014

Well done and well written.  What an inspiring journey. Congrats gentlemen, keep up the good work.

# wonderwoman, January 2nd 2014

You made the right call on the last minute. Respect you and life. You have all the support we can give from far. We send you love and pray     for you.

# Pete Heady, January 2nd 2014

You have performed admirably, hauling more than simply a sledge and 200kg of supplies. I have read very word you have passed along and felt as if I were traveling along with you and Tarka, just outside the frame of your photographs, silent witness to a remarkable feat of human endurance. Congratulations on all you have accomplished, all the correct decisions for all the right reasons.
Keep dreaming for without them we are all diminished.

# PJ, January 2nd 2014

Heroes. Plain and simple. Be safe. Be well.

# Hilary, January 2nd 2014

Dear Ben and Tarka

Like many others here, I have checked the blog twenty times or more waiting for news. I had a gut feeling something was wrong when you stopped suddenly yesterday. I am so glad you are both ok and now have the chance for rest and full rations again. This in no way diminishes your achievement so far, and I will continue to check the blog as my first task of each day. You are heroes in my eyes and I’m reliving both Scott and Shackleton through your journey.

Scott and Shackleton were both supported as far as the Beardmore and in Scott’s case, he had man-hauler teams almost as far as the pole itself. What you have achieved is truly amazing!

Rest well, keep going and we’ll all be celebrating with you when you reach the finish line back at Cape Evans. The Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration has returned!

# Paul Bower (Downe Arms hotel), January 2nd 2014

What an achievement, what a remarkable piece of writing from one of the most desolate places on earth. It kept me riveted to the last word. I can only say keep it up, show them you can top what you’ve achieved so far, see you at the finishing line!

# JonT, January 2nd 2014

I am pretty sure that anyone who bad mouths any undertaking of this magnitude has never before tried anything that ambitious before.  You guys have pushed yourselves LITERALLY TO THE EDGE and that alone is recipe for heroic tales!  Good to hear you are safe and resting up!  Best Wishes and God Speed!

# Todd, January 2nd 2014

Power on! Keep pushing for those of us who can’t, but wish we could. It’s been incredible following you on this journey.

# Marco Vega, January 2nd 2014

The best part of Valor is to do the right thing at the right time. Take courage. You guys did the right thing. I know that wherever Commander Scott is right now, he is as proud of you as we are. Take heart!

# Leanne J, January 2nd 2014

There is no ‘imperfect’ journey - just a journey, one hell of a journey and one hell of a tale to tell :) What an adventure and achievement!

# Vimalatharmaiyah Gnanaruban, January 2nd 2014

Ben and Tarka, I’m proud of you two. Today’s entry, with a right context is a valuable lesson for every explorer.
People like to compare things, especially sports legends of the past to the present day greats, it’s in our nature. In my opinion, the statistical comparison doesn’t show who is the best, for example in Cricket we love to compare Don Bradman to Lara or Tendulkar, in reality they played different games, and both aced at what they were doing. The comparison you made between your journey and Scott’s expedition perfectly justifies your decision to a reader with no historical perspective, but it doesn’t intent to suggest which one was the hardest, as some one may have interpreted and went on to show their disagreement by correcting you on the statistics. But we get the point, you are the great polar explorers of my times and certainly my favorite pair.
Loved to hear that you met your ‘macho pilot’ near the south pole, yet another testing time.
Keep warm - Ruban

# Kristoffer, January 2nd 2014

Your post is good, but your point about the comparison not suggesting which expedition was hardest is incorrect.  Ben himself has stated that Scott’s journey has never been surpassed.  Without further context from him, we have to assume it is the context of distance travelled along Scott’s general route.  Shackleton’s team covered more distance.

# Ephraim, January 2nd 2014

“Whatever regrets may be, we have done our best.” Sir Ernest Shackleton, turning back on 9 January 1909 at 88. 23’ South.

Not only can you honestly say the same, your best was even better.

# Claudia Tynes, January 2nd 2014

Thanks be to God you still had the cognitive ability to recognize your true situation and call for help! In my eyes, this re-supply does not diminish your accomplishment——this astounding journey.

# Janet Stanley, January 2nd 2014

So relieved you are both okay & you absolutely made the right decision as Shackleton would say “Rather a live donkey than a dead lion ” was worried when i saw no update this morning but am now so relieved. Please stay safe :)

# Eric Castano, January 2nd 2014

Thank you Ben and Tarka for given us the opportunity to follow your extraordinary expedition. I’m on board from day 30 and concerned after day 67. Now I’m relieved to read the decision you took. Your are great.

Best regards,

# Robert , January 2nd 2014

Those who judge don’t matter, those who matter don’t judge.

The decision made is an example of true leadership. Ignore the negative thoughts from some and even in the back of your own minds. I am inspired every day by your Herculean efforts. Keep going as nothing changes in our eyes. You are still heroes.

# Jerry Colonna, January 3rd 2014

Hear, hear @robert. This decision is effective leadership at its best.

# Tony Scullion, January 2nd 2014

Excellent write up Ben.  You made the right decision.
I remember reading in a Bear Grylls book that people often make difficult but correct decisions - one climber was 200 feet from the summit of Everest and he turned back as he was dangerously low on oxygen - he lived to tell the tale and try again the next year.  Others foolishly carry on and lie where they fall.

Well done on getting this far.  Great journey!

# Janet Stanley, January 2nd 2014

Your writing is brilliant by the way, so expressive :)

# Valero, January 2nd 2014

Haka ka Mate

Ringa pakia!    Slap the hands against the thighs!
Uma tiraha!    Puff out the chest.
Turi whatia!    Bend the knees!
Hope whai ake!  Let the hips follow!
Waewae takahia kia kino!  Stomp the feet as hard as you can!
Ka mate, ka mate   I may die, I may die,
Ka ora’ Ka ora’  I may live, I may live
Ka mate, ka mate   I may die, I may die,
Ka ora’ Ka ora’  I may live, I may live

Tēnei te tangata pūhuruhuru   This is the hairy man
Nāna nei i tiki mai whakawhiti te rā  Who brought the sun and caused it to shine
Ā, upane! ka upane!  A step upward, another step upward!
Ā, upane! ka upane!  A step upward, another step upward!
Whiti te rā,!    The sun shines!
Hī!    Rise!

# dj, January 3rd 2014

Wow!  I bet not one in a hundred who reads this here understands just how poignant and respectful this (what you have done) really is!!

# Christy, January 3rd 2014

Poignant and powerful, a Māori breath of life force for Ben & Tarka.

# Colin Dowse, January 2nd 2014

After reading that, all I can say is how we repect you achievements. No way are your achievements reduced. In fact to go on now says such a lot about determination. Good luck and Well Done. So moved by your report.

# Tim L, January 2nd 2014

Very well written and thank you for sharing. I sit here next to my log stove and Christmas tree, with an ordinary English winter outside and it is a privilege to be able to read what you are achieving. Good luck gents. Onward.

# Phil Satoor, January 2nd 2014

You say that you’re humbled and grateful for our interest and support, but really it’s WE who are humbled and grateful to YOU for sharing with us your great adventure.  What I learn from your writings is that, an explorer not only discovers the nature of the great outdoors, but also something about his inner self and the true value of friendship and companionship, something perhaps one wouldn’t learn if one staid at home, like us mere “followers”!

# Louis, January 2nd 2014

It is the true skill of an expedition leader and adventurer to know when to call for assistance, despite all his previous intentions and goals. If anything, I have even more admiration for the skills you two daily demonstrate on the pole.

# Vladimir Pauliny, January 2nd 2014

Dear Ben and Tarka,
I’ve been following your endeavor since day one, admiring your grit as much as the honesty of your writing.
What “status” will your expedition go down in history with is beside the point.
You two are in the process of defining what is humanly possible, and a little airborne help in the dire moment does not diminish your herculean effort by a damn bit.
Wish you best of luck and safe journey back home.

# Justin Philips, January 2nd 2014

“There is a time to hold the gavel and a time to pass it
on. More important than plaques on your wall or monuments
bearing your name are the hearts which have been touched
because you chose to lead with love.”—Neil Eskelin
Godspeed and God Bless

# Jo, January 2nd 2014

No-one has ever done what you wanted to do (the unsupported journey). You had to calculate with existing experience and information from different expeditions. I guess this leaves a lot of blanks for making plans for an extremely ambitious expedition which doesn´t have much margin for error. So I´m sure there is no reason to blame yourself for misjudging what was possible.

You sound as if you are under a lot of pressure comparing yourself with the historical heroes and worrying about how your expedition might be diminished now in the eyes of others. I hope that I am misjudging here. But if not, this “fail” might give you some freedom from judging and comparing. Stay alive, stay safe, march on! Let others do the judging and enjoy the fight with the elements and the limits. I have a lot of respect for you guys!

# Bård Haug, January 2nd 2014

Your mission: Completing the Scott route from the base to the North pole and safe back again. A re-supply is not a failure or a defeat. You have given the world a well planned and prepared expedition. Your mission is still the same and undisturbed.

from Bård (living in the oldest town in Norway, Tønsberg)

# Kellsie Kriegelstein, January 2nd 2014

I’ve can’t say it any better than the earlier comments.  I just want you both to know there are many watching and we’ll continue to watch and cheer you on.

# Bex Holliday, January 2nd 2014

Argh!!! I’m so completely in awe of you guys, this blog has brought to life how ridiculously insane it must be out there, but you’re still going:-) Well done!!!

# Gale Browning, January 2nd 2014

No expedition is worth giving up your life.  Wise choice to ask for help.  From your account, it is ovious that you both gave it every ounce you had and more pushing to the very thin edge between life and death.  Will be following you to the completion.

# Pavol Timko, January 3rd 2014

Dear Ben and Tarka,

I caught myself checking many times during the day this blog to find out what’s going on. While reading your last posts it seemed to me that something is wrong. Now I understand and I am glad that you did the right call. We don’t need another dead polar explorers and I am soooo happy that it was possible for a pilot to resupply you.We live in 21st century and if you wouldn’t have ability to call for help you would be in quite a trouble.
Actually now you answered a question I wanted to ask - how much extra food and fuel do you haul as a reserve.
Probably you will look later at your planning if you would do something differently and it is up to you and only you to feel good or bad about it. I can only say - what counts is that you will be able to tell the tale and a heroic effort you show to all of us.
Regarding discussion about criticism I would say that Michelangelo would gladly listen to Da Vinci what he has to say and vice versa. I mean, extreme sportsmen could make much more valid point than us - keyboard polar explorers. Any one may criticise but theorists will not be taken too seriously and it is good so.
Keep your spirits up, there is still some way to go.

# Terri, January 3rd 2014

You guys are amazing! Well done, love the blog. How great to do this journey with all the gadgets of our era, and what a tale to tell.

# Jon G, January 3rd 2014

I read your post in a draughty hall full of 150 scouts (last rehearsal for this year’s Show). The ‘endurance’ role models that they are mostly presented with are D list, has-been, surgically altered celebrities who ‘earn’ a bigger meal in the Australian ‘jungle’ by sitting in cockroaches for a few seconds. Thank you for being a proper inspiration: in the scale of your ambition, in your successes and set backs, in your candour and vulnerability and yes (damn-you-a-bit) in the extraordinary quality of your writing.
I once shared some career frustrations with a friend who gave wise counsel: “You’re the only one in the race”. I doubt that thought will help much, today or perhaps ever. But it is true, and it’s great to see the outpouring of support on these pages for making the right call. We’re all relieved you’re safe, that you’re taking care of each-other and that you’re determined to dig deep again and continue.
Much has changed since 1911 (not least the level to which you’ve raised the bar), but I think your post would resonate with the members of that expedition. “I’m sorry to have kept you waiting for this post” is an opening that’s straight from central casting!

# Chris Scullion, January 3rd 2014

Thank you for a great post. My life is richer for sharing your experience.
The right thing was to do something.
Well done.
Looking forward to the journey again :)

# Leigh Phillips , January 3rd 2014

“We’re still in the process of making a journey that’s never been done before, and I hope you’ll still keep following”
You try stopping us sunshine! In a world filled of celebrity fluff your journey and writing is the perfect antidote.

# Tom Campbell, January 3rd 2014

“for more than 70 hours per week of intense physical exertion, twice as much as a Tour de France cyclist, over ten weeks and not three.”
This statement puts you guys in a very special place. Amazing achievement so far.

# Cem Gurbuz, January 3rd 2014

Guys, you are amazing! Thank you for letting us to be a part of your remarkable journey! Enjoying and getting inspired by every bit of it!

# Philip Turner, January 3rd 2014

What amazes me is that you didn’t dive into the cabin of the plane and get a lift out!!! No mention of it!!!  That, to me, shows how hard you guys are.  Wise decision. Total respect and you still have a huge distance to go. Am glued to the blog. Brilliant.

# Alastair Humphreys, January 3rd 2014

This is not true at all:

“Tarka is the hero here, and the irony of our situation is that I would never have made it to this point without his herculean efforts; his giving everything he has to this goal. I’m proud of how deep we have each dug, and I am amazed and humbled by Tarka’s sacrifice.”

You are a total team. You’ve both had ups and downs. You’ve both helped each other. Nobody is right or wrong. Nobody is the hero or villain. You’re both stars and I’m proud to be your friend.

# Kat, January 3rd 2014

Ben & Tarka, I confess I was SO worried when I heard about your cold hands and the chill you had, knowing a little about hypothermia.  This account of the last day’s march with incipient hypothermia and weakness again was very very sobering.  Here in frigid Toronto, we had windchills today of -30C and -40C.  As I walked through the city, with two downcoats, a fur hat and pashmina wrapped around my head, I thought of you doing the hard work down there in the relentless cold.  It’s dangerous.  It saps your psychic energy…My hands chilled after a few minutes…NOTHING compared to what you experience, a mere morsel of cold.

I truly wish you’d taken more supplies on board with the refuel, but I’m sure you know what you’re doing. I guess I worry.

This resupply mission does not diminish your accomplishments in my eyes, nor my respect and admiration for you both, and for your team.  You did the right thing, thank god.  It gives one pause to think of the original Scott expedition, and what a horrific journey they made across the same terrain.

I’m sorry you feel in any way that you have let anyone down.  You haven’t. We’re behind you all the way. We’re looking forward to the book.  There will be a book, right??

Stay well.  We’ll be watching and following from afar!



# Valerie, January 3rd 2014

You guys are my heros! I’ve been reading your blog off and on for weeks since hearing an interview with Ben on NPR, and every day I am inspired by your strength, wisdom, and endurance. Thanks for sharing the ups and downs of your journey with the world.

# André Lambert, January 3rd 2014

Hey Ben,

This is a magnificient journey.

In my opinion, “Unsupported"is only an arbitrary goal - easy to define, tough (but not smart) to accomplish, with some immediate impact in the marketing side of the venture. There should be a lot more to draw attention to this trip (and others) then keeping up with this particular classification. Modern expedition people should be more creative and completely re-invent their styles, purposes and business models, replacing current way of keeping records (first, youngest, oldest, longest…) and these arbitrary classifications (unsupported, unassisted) with something really INNOVATIVE, that would add NEW meaning to everybody participating and the crowd following online.

Again, in my opinion, when you can’t have an espresso in the South Pole bar without some douche on the internet telling you that you lost your whatever status - well -  it means that this particular way of doing things is no longer in touch with reality. It is as fantastical as people re-enacting battles in costumes and plastic swords. Nothing against this hobby, but there should be a different style to invent.

I wish for innovations in expeditions that must be much more meaningful than hauling all your stuff.

Ski on,


# Henry Worsley, January 3rd 2014

Both your minds run on wires of steel, as they did for those who have gone before you.
You are both mentally indestructible - born out by your decision.
I know just what you have been going through and it is a dark place.
So, a brave and great call lads; but vital in its importance.You had no alternative.
But keep your heads up and stay unfailingly focussed on the rest of your route.
You will enjoy it more now…. but it’s not over.

# Bob Miller, January 3rd 2014

Ben & Tarka, I can’t compete with the eloquence of the previous comments - whatever the causes you did exactly the right thing, otherwise we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to continue reading about your adventure! Well done for the heroic efforts and the fascinating reports and keep your chins up - just a gentle downhill jog to go!

# Fearghal O'Nuallain, January 3rd 2014

Shackleton said something similar;

“In memories we were rich. We had pierced the veneer of outside things. We had ‘suffered, starved and triumphed, groveled down yet grasped at glory, grown bigger in the bigness of the whole.’ We had seen God in His splendors, heard the text that nature renders. we had reached the naked soul of man.”“

Best of luck on the home leg lads.

# Keith Shukait, January 3rd 2014

Let any man who criticizes this super human test of strength and endurance strap himself to a sled and start his journey today. I’m in awe of what you’ve achieved, and will be the first to say that you would’ve buried me way before the Beardmore. Eat, sleep, repeat, then and only then, start for the next depot. Godspeed Ben and Tarka, we are proud of you both!!!

# Marc ADISSON, January 3rd 2014

Bonsoir vous 2!  Je suis votre expédition depuis le début, je la trouvais surhumaine! Vous êtes redevenus des hommes, les vrais, ceux qui savent jusqu’où aller, sans jamais mettre leurs vies en danger, au-delà de leurs limites!
Bravo, et surtout savourez le reste de votre aventure, vous vivez quelque chose de fantastique!!
Bien à vous!  Marc.

# Shelby , January 3rd 2014

You made the call a true leader makes. No plan designed in the comforts of home survives the adventure. Good trekking and smartly done!

# Chris Jeffcoat, January 3rd 2014

Imperfect is not a word to be used here.
This is a mammoth task and a mammoth achievement.Ben your words paint the picture and all who read them are extremely proud of you both.
Stay safe on the final leg.

# George Chapman, January 3rd 2014

I was sorry to see and commented earlier today expressing my sadness that this reaching out for help was necessary. I’m sure they must have been in real trouble or they would not have done so. I thought the mileage was going well the last week. Only heard about the low amount of supplies today. It does appear there were some miscalculations on how many supplies were depots. These things happen and I sure Ben and Tara will acknowledge there was some miscalculations. Hope the problem with frostbite has been taken care of.
I do pray things will work out and no additional difficulties will bestow these guys. I have not seen anything that says they must be back to the base at any absolute time or maybe this is a concern we do not know of.
You guys take care of yourself and be very careful with that frostbite I’m sure your Dr. is giving you advice on that subject. It is especially nice that we do have a working communication link and can be assured these guys are still OK.

The number of comments here today has been remarkable.

# Mike Howarth, January 3rd 2014

As ever Ben your eloquence shines through. Able to pen clear coherent thoughts about deeply personal and emotive matters.

The semantics of unassisted, unsupported are really just that when you are dealing with the welfare and safety of a team mate.

To my mind what you have achieved is beyond compare, it has been an incredible journey and that will remain!

# Christian C, January 3rd 2014

Very few, if any, plans survive contact with the enemy. When you are undertaking something unbelievably bloody difficult then a change of plan might in some ways be inevitable.

What matters, what counts, is the decision making at critical moments. You saw the issue, tried to manage it and when you saw you lacked the resources to deal with the issue you got the resources to you quickly and efficiently.

Right call. Right time. Right stuff.

Some people might have just abandoned and got on the plane.

I hope Tarka’s thumbs are manageable for him and fully fueled you get to ‘enjoy’ the next few days of graft before the next depot and look around a bit and truly enjoy the unique and privileged adventure you are on (and many of us are living vicariously).

Cheers and thanks,



# Tron, January 3rd 2014

Amazing display of humanity and perseverance at the bottom of the world.
Keep Moving.

# Jon, January 3rd 2014

Good call guys, and the right one. Best of luck with the coming weeks.

# Damian Harris , January 3rd 2014

A most amazing read.
Really written from the heart.
Glad you’re both feeling better for your rest and this will only make you stronger.
I like many, many others have followed you both for the last 70 days and have no intention of stopping now.

# Rachel Shephard, January 3rd 2014

I like your comments that ‘compassion is more important than glory’ and that contentment is either here, with all our imperfections, or never to be found. Crazy how sometimes we have to head to the ends of the earth to realize these simple truths! Best to you both on the rest of your journey.

# Rob Z, January 3rd 2014

I don’t think anyone can diminish what you and Tarka have accomplished in these past few months or what you will accomplish in the next couple of months. It seems to me that even with the modern technology, the advantage of performance clothing, a better understanding of nutrition and increased physical conditioning that 1800 miles in -40C is brutal. Let the “nay” sayers have their comments, none of them would have survived the first week. I get winded going up five flights of stairs in the morning! Hold your heads high and finish with pride. If it were easy, it wouldn’t have taken 100 years in between attempts.

# pfong, January 3rd 2014

Coming home safely is the greatest achievement of all. I deeply respect Shackelton for bringing his team back despite not meeting their original transarctic goals.

Stay safe and best wishes for the homeward trek.

# Nansen, January 3rd 2014

To be fair, and without intending to criticize the team, I think a serious question has to be asked on whether there has been an error of judgement by the team in the depot laying on this expedition.  The team left with 110 days of food and given their current location at day 70, they will be back before 110 days.  It is most likely they will return in 100 days.  I strongly believe that too much food was deposited early in the expedition and this is the reason for the need of a resupply.  I hope that complete clarity on the food depots is provided in due course, so that a fully informed view can be formed, and so that future polar explorers can consider the feasibility of achieving this expedition without resupply.

# Kristoffer, January 3rd 2014

Wonderfully put.  I too look forward to the day when we have full info on the depots, as I myself suspect the shortage is the result of depositing too much food somewhere.

# Bill Hucks, January 3rd 2014

Scary to hear how close to crisis you pushed it, and we are very glad you made the call.  Your accomplishment is not diminished, yet redefined.
Kristoffer, there is always one bona fide Dolt in the crowd.  Strong work in being the absolute ass at the very worst time.  I am not alone in advising you stuff a sock in it.

# Kristoffer, January 3rd 2014

Bill, I have had to deal with a succession of dolts in the crowd.  Strong work in mindlessly repeating the negativity of others.  I am not alone in realizing that something went wrong with the logistics.

# Christian, January 3rd 2014

You have my highest respect.
To make this kind of decision in such a situation and under this circumstances is showing how strong you really are. I am so happy that both of you are doing better, now.
Trust me, the people who are following your blog since weeks will not give up waiting for your updates. They/we are proud of you and of what you are doing. You are still fascinating and motivating everybody of us. Take care and take your steps as you can and want to. This is your adventure and challenge and we can be grateful that you are sharing your experiences with us.
!!@ We are with you!!!
Regards from Germany

# Mary Scott, January 3rd 2014

We are proud of you!  You made the right choice.

# Jeffrey Dill, January 3rd 2014

You guys are hero’s. This has certainly been my favorite reading yet.

Congratulations on everything you guys have accomplished together so far!

# dj, January 3rd 2014

Incredible - this is the 170th comment (at 6pm MST), a new record for this blog and I’m writing this from the perspective of having read each and every one.  As we all should be, I’m grateful that the incident didn’t take a physical toll more than bruised pride.

Even though none of your posts actually have stated that you actually take the time to read these comments, the fact that you have a Pilot lets me think that you could if you wanted to and I certainly hope that you do take the time to do so.  IF you do, I hope that your take away is that your (and any of your staff that shares it) fear of what commenters might say sells your followers short.  I’m sure that all those you care about, and have been protecting from your true conditions, are extremely RELIEVED to find out.

Look guys, your expedition IS WHAT IT IS - no more, no less; despite any assurances from marketing managers or well wishers.  If you need to leave more caches, so what? That’s what it took. If it takes you an extra week, so what? That’s what it took, and the world’s fund of knowledge knows more now that it did before you tried it.  If it takes more calories, or different planning, or pre-planned caches… so what?  In the cosmic scheme of things, only a complete fool would hold to false assumptions in face of direct evidence or continue to promote a fantasy in order to save face.

“I hope you’ll keep following”—what are you even thinking?! Are you kidding us?  You really do need to:
1)  Re-think your assumptions about your ‘followers’ of your blog - ALL of the several different types;

2)  Spend some quality time, before you get back, re-examining what you consider “success.” To me, it seems to be needing a bit of a tweak;  and,

3)  Don’t be so friggin’ afraid to “stop and ask directions!”  (A trait, I’m sorry to see, that isn’t just confined to the male gender on this side of “the pond.”)

Here’s to a safe (and a tad bit more ‘transparent’) second half of your journey back to McMurdo!  As one of your posters from New Zealand told you: Ā, upane! ka upane!

# CaninesCashews, January 3rd 2014

Hi Guys,
Was really busy today and I didn’t see this post until 1am, but felt so moved that I had to reply immediately –  forgive me, I tend to be a bit rambly at 1.30 in the morning…
Well first of all – safety is paramount in these situations and clearly you have made the right call here. You are the guys on the ground and only you can make the big decisions.
There should be no guilt here for either of you – I agree entirely with Richard P. The expedition is what it is – you had in your mind unsupported, but the facts are Scott didn’t do it that way.  He collected pre laid depots and used the best technology available to him, including motorised sledges, as well as the traditional animals.
You guys have called in food because you need it to survive – this is not a decision you have taken lightly, but it is clearly the right one and I applaud you for it.
I am confident that you will complete this adventure you have tasked yourself with and you will complete it well.
Please don’t think this has become any ‘less’ of an expedition or that this reduces the accomplishment. Quite the opposite, in fact I think this brings it closer to the ethos of Terra Nova.
In the coming days please don’t reproach yourself for a good decision, well made, in difficult circumstances. Harry S. Truman has the best advice on this, “Once a decision was made, I didn’t worry about it afterward…”
I for one will be on here every day as usual, offering my small tokens of support.  Hopefully they will help just a tiny bit to get you to that little hut, where a dream forged over a hundred years ago is waiting to be completed.
God Speed and stay safe,

# Shelly, January 3rd 2014

Dear Ben and Tarka,

Despite what the critics sitting warm in their homes say, one thing is clear you guys are heroes. They could never have done what you two have done over the past 72 days.

Is it really a change in status?  Scott had ponies you had one air supply drop. What would the ponies of Scott’s era be considered if not support?

# George Chapman, January 3rd 2014

I’m glad for the time being it looks like they will be able to finish this journey. This team in the end though had some of the same difficulties Scott had 100 years ago. The good thing today is that with modern telecommunications these guys today can call in and get help quickly if necessary. Both teams the one from 100 years ago and the one from today miscalculated needed food supplies and their goals were not achieved even though they both gave it their best. What can be learned from this will be decided by others in the days to come. It’s disappointing to see that the ultimate goal of doing this unsupported will not be achieved on this expedition. This challenge will have to wait to another day to be achieved. I know the guys here have planned this for years and even though they have given it their best at the end of the day I’m sure they will be somewhat disappointed. A lot of adventurers strive to achieve a goal but only a few achieve them. As is the case in any sporting event there is always “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”

# Andrea, January 3rd 2014

In the antarctic configuration of indispensable (for warm) short time hence rapid speed and the wheight carried,  there is the high probability that it is not about the allotment in the depots, instead, these (the rhythm diminution infinitesimaly till it can not be encompassed the latest few km-s to the depot) being the aleatory effects of the biological efforts, a contingency. Of witch avoidance can not be calculated, and witch is not generated by insufficient nutrition (not for so little the technique human species does not promenades in Antarctica), but witch can develope, function of its appearing moment, the situation of letting without the bags with food.
They are those who have rescued themselves, since the plane was planned with the sponsors they co-opted.

# Andrea, January 3rd 2014

Not the bag with food was and is the center,the daily food does not transform their underlying state, they are not well but are invicti and invicte, i.e. this expedition is an unsupported one.
And it will with necessity change in a supported one when they will be back at the base camp.

# Pidge, January 3rd 2014

This kristoffer bloke may need to find something more constructive to do with his time. Well done boys! Pull on!

# Kristoffer, January 3rd 2014

Everyone needs to relax about the outpouring of reassurance.  The only thing the expedition has lost is the billing for being unsupported, and that is a trivial price to pay for being safe.

# Jason Lewis, January 3rd 2014

Brilliant update, Ben. You guys should be very, very proud of yourselves. Inspiration stuff!

# Jennie Hale, January 3rd 2014

Just want to say that I think you two are incredible human beings and tenacious explorers. If we who are reading your amazing blogs could achieve a fraction of what you have achieved, most of us would be astounded and delighted. You are true heroes and enormous congratulations on your achievements to date. And to those who appear to be criticising from the comfort of their warm safe homes, get a life and appreciate what these two giants of men have done and are still doing. WELL DONE!

# Adam, January 3rd 2014

It’s better to ask for help than to beg for an evacuation. It’s tough losing the ‘unsupported’ status after all of this work but you honestly shouldn’t take comments from people who sleep in a warm bed with near limitless access to food (that they haven’t been pulling for the last 2 months) and would never contemplate half the distance you guys accomplish on a warm summers day with no gear to heart. I’ve been amazed at the distance you guys cover every day and quite frankly it’s nice to know that you actually are human and not the indestructible machines that I’ve been visualizing you as.

Keep up the wicked work and let us know if any of your sponsors drop you due to the resupply. I know that I wouldn’t be the only one who reads this blog to express outrage at such a decision.

# Varun S, January 3rd 2014

As someone who struggled to finish a single marathon in perfect Oregon summer weather despite stopping to refuel every 30 mins, I’ve gained a new admiration for professional athletes like yourselves who push their minds and bodies to achieve incredible feats.

Your comments on compassion being more important than glory ring absolutely true. All of us at Intel are cheering for you, keep going!

# Andrea, January 3rd 2014

Maybe in few days you can introduce the Marathons.
This observation: due to the icy air, maybe will be needed also in the mid-day another one big vitamines pill and two krill oil tablets.

# Heidi, January 3rd 2014

“We’re resting up today, we’re safe, we’re well….”  That is all we wanted to hear.  No guilt, no shame.  You explained how the Scott Expedition had laid in depots up to a year previous; had they had access to planes, I’m sure they would have used them.  Your friends around the world, we just want you to succeed by making it all the way home.  “... we’re safe, we’re well…” - that’s all that really matters.  Godspeed, gentlemen.

# Katie Emmer, January 3rd 2014

Great to hear; clearly you made the right choice! Far and away your first priority is to take care of each other, without which, what good is faith to move mountains? We here in the peanut gallery are cheering for you to complete your journey with all your fingers and toes! Wishing you peace, strength, laughs, and wisdom for every step and every decision. So proud of you both.

# Christy, January 3rd 2014

OMG, history so nearly repeated itself!  Your experience has perhaps peeled away another layer of the Scott tragedy in a way that Scott’s diary did not.  To me your description of hunger, weakness and descent into hypothermia, illuminates more of what the hours of Scott and his remaining team members’ final trudge to that last camp may have been like, how Scott himself who always seemed impatient with those who allowed frostbite to happen could have frozen his own feet without realizing it was happening.  It is ironic too that like Scott, your reports have ranged from optimistic to stoic, but never quite letting on just how bad things really were.  I think that in many ways you are achieving much more than you set out to achieve, and certainly you are adding treasure to the gathering wealth of polar knowledge!  Keep the faith!!

# John M, January 3rd 2014

Dear Ben and Tarka

For me, your own words sum this situation up beautifully:

“I think of status and records and achievement and impermanence. Every gold medal one day ends up in a collectors’ cabinet, an auction lot or a drawer in an antique shop. Trophies oxidise, the ribbons of rosettes curl and fade. I don’t know where my proudly-won Scout badges are now. I hope our journey has not been diminished in your eyes now it is “imperfect”. Yet of course for us humans, perfection can never really be reached, contentment is either here today, with the striving and the mess we all inhabit, all open loops and half-finished lists and could-do-better-next-times, or we will never find it. And the biggest lessons -to me at least- of this very long, very hard walk, are perhaps that compassion is more important than glory. Friendship and kindness and taking care of each other -like Tarka secretly removing weight from my sledge- matter more than achievement or status. The joy of being outdoors and alive in the wild, pushing ourselves harder than anyone will ever understand, will I think in time prove more wholesome and satisfying than the pride of any public recognition on our homecoming.”

In war, people die for notions of ‘glory’.  It is indeed vain glory, as one is dead, and unable to see or hear the adulation of ‘glory’ ascribed to ones memory by others still happily alive.

To have risked your most precious lives, simply for notions of ‘glory’ or in some misguided attempt to fulfil social conditioning and assigned roles of male stereotyping ‘toughness’ would have been foolhardy in the extreme, and to ask for assistance was the only sensible and rational thing to do.

Do not feel in the slightest bit disappointed, please, re supposed ‘status’ changes, for the goal of an unsupported return journey was simply that, a goal, and not something that should outweigh the going, for as the saying goes, “it is better to set out than it is to arrive”.

That so many people around the world have enjoyed reading your blogs, and followed the progress of your journey surely speaks volumes as to how many of us, see ourselves as living the journey with you, but through your eyes rather than our own.

And like many adventures in life, it is always about the journey and what one learns from it, rather than the end goal in itself.

You have made wonderful friendships, and had an opportunity to experience the world of nature in all it’s wonderful extremes, and that is something that will remain with you for the rest of your lives, far more than any social adulation and so called ‘glory’.

It is all well and good for the armchair self appointed ‘experts’ to decry ‘disappointment’ that the expedition is now ‘supported’, but let just one of them even dare to attempt what you have achieved - after all, they want the notion of glory, and to see history rewritten, but like the politician who forces a man into war, it is not their life on the line.

So please, do not feel disappointed, and above all do not let yourselves be hurt by the insensitive criticism of armchair critics over supposed goals for which they will be happy to criticise any seeming ‘failure’ whilst not taking any responsibility and none of the risk.

It is your lives, and your time, and you have achieved much in that time - or as one might put it - a life very well lived.

That I could but do it, instead of writing these few lines which I hope will have some meaning and encouragement.

I do not know either of you, but I offer my support and encouragement and huge respect.

Thank you so much for letting us share in your most wonderful adventure.

Come back home safe to your friends and family who love you, and with a life enriched beyond all measure and to a depth that few of us could even contemplate.

Hugs and All the Best for the New Year!

John… :-)




# Zion, January 3rd 2014

Who are you trying to impress?  The history books?  I think most of us who have followed your adventures will continue to be inspired by your journey.  Thanks for being human!

# Jennifer, January 3rd 2014

Ben and Tarka, what a relief that you are much better!  Given your choice at this point of the expedition, you executed sage judgment.  The goal now has simply been slightly amended.  Your strength, wisdom, and optimism, (not to mention incredible writing skills) have infused many of us with that infectious Ben-Tarka magic.  What a privilege it has been witnessing your achievements!

Thomas Edison did not fail; he only learned from his experiences, which is exactly what men like he and you do.

(To “Kristoffer,” a valid concern or suggestion that doesn’t appear to be addressed would most likely be appreciated by the expedition team, especially if delivered in a non-arrogant, supportive manner.  Unsolicited, haughty comments from self-appointed critics who can’t seem to take any criticism themselves is nothing but….trolling.  Please park your imperious attitude at the door.)

# Kristoffer, January 3rd 2014

Are you done smearing me?  What is so terrible about asking questions openly?  I’m not the only one who doesn’t see what is wrong with asking questions openly.  Considering all the baseless character attacks based on the fact that I actually asked what went wrong, I’d say all of you negative people (who ironically are more negative than the people they complain about) need to check your privilege.

# bob, January 3rd 2014

In most web articles, blogs, or Facebook threads there’s always “that guy”. We all know him; he wasn’t breast fed or didn’t get enough hugs growing up.  He’s never amounted to much, and failed to meet the small goals he’s set for himself.  Other’s achievements threaten him, so he needs to attack them to make himself feel better.  He has years of experience defending his narcissism, and will play the martyr when confronted.  He’ll keep crying for attention as long as it’s given to him.  Ignore him and his need will be met elsewhere.

# Jennifer, January 3rd 2014

Kristoffer, wait , are you not the one who extolled the virtues of criticism?  You blasted your comments with numerous quotes of the great value and under-appreciation of critics.  The hypocrisy is that you can dish it out but can’t seem to take it.

Regardless, you didn’t seem to understand what I said.  It wasn’t the fact that you were questioning; it was how the questions were presented and your indignation that the expedition team didn’t address your demands. 

In short, if you communicate in a more diplomatic and less pompous manner, people may pay more attention to what you say rather than how you say it.

# Frazer, January 3rd 2014

You’re both incredibly inspiring. There will be plenty time for introspection and criticism. For now, you’ve still got a job to finish. You’ve had your conditions check. Now you have to suck it up and crack on! “Onwards”.

# Dave Cornthwaite, January 3rd 2014

Super writing. Good decision. Forget the naysayers, anyone who has achieved half of what you’ve both (and everyone else who has been involved in the project) accomplished will have enough self awareness that criticism changes nothing in this scenario, except for only, perhaps, morale. What others think means nothing, this isn’t about accolades or claims, there are far more important things to fuss about. You’re both an inspiration and continue to be so. Get strong and plod on.

# Sandra Price, January 3rd 2014

I read your post with bated breath and am so relieved to hear that you are both OK.  Your decision was absolutely the right one in the circumstances.  Your families must be relieved to hear that you are resting up before continuing.  I am sure that it is as much of an experience/endurance test for them as for you two.  I have followed you ever since hearing you speak at Speech Day at Ipswich School a couple of years ago.  You are both incredible people and believe that you are totally supported from all of us armchair fans !!

# Intrepid, January 3rd 2014

Dear Everyone,
I am a little bit bothered because as a follower of this blog I didn’t bring to print what I had noticed about the sound of Ben’s voice changing. I recall my senses being en garde, then questioning how I could know something about what’s happening when I know diddley squat about the expedition (it is outside my experience and expertise). I decided to believe that if there really was a problem we would be informed.  I didn’t post my concerns. I didn’t say, “Hey Ben, you don’t sound right. What is really going on there? I’m worried.”  So here’s my question…. Does commenting on blogs come with the responsibility of being candid in all circumstances?  Does archiving a journey require all the (absolute) facts, reporting what is happening to the best of one’s ability, or/and does a blogger have some poetic license?

# Andrea, January 3rd 2014

It is very hard for the expedition to concentrete to note here the details, they have to execute there things. The expedition’s hell is an under-persupposed thing; only after it will be completed there, will be time for details of this expedition.
To let to be known how the daily nature appears to acting humans escalading and descending the South Pole, is the expedition’s blog center.

# Marina Kleinwort, January 3rd 2014

Ben and Tarka.  I have just reread this blog for the 3rd time and am more overwhelmed with each reading that you can write so articulately at a time that is so obviously physically and mentally taking you both to your limits.  I am hugely relieved you had enough left in the tank to make that call to Andy.  The only thing that shows to me is that you are just as brave now as you were at the outset (if not more so).  You are both heroes in my eyes.  Be safe and recharge for the next phase.  I am bowled over by what you have done thus far.  Enormous hugs from Cape Town.  X

# Curly Texan, January 3rd 2014

I received my Expedition t-shirt today in the mail. I’ll going to wear it tomorrow and tell everyone I meet about the 2 brave men marching home as they complete an amazing athletic challenge of perseverance, strength and humility. You are still superheroes to me. March on!

# James Scott, January 3rd 2014

This must go down as one of the best decisions ever made, in the most challenging of circumstances.  Well done chaps, now finish the job in style!

# Graham O, January 3rd 2014

With regards the criticisms on here recently and earlier with regards where are the depots, what is in them etc. I’ve worked with Ben and many other expeditions for over 10 years and there is always some secrecy involved in them. People spend years of their lives investing time and effort in getting an expedition off the ground. Certainly Ben and Tarka have taken their past expeditions and learnt from them in terms of nutrition, equipment, clothing etc. They have spent much time developing an expedition strategy which they hope will work. I say hope, because that is the best one can achieve in advance. It’s not until you get on the ground that you find out if your strategy is going to work and remember, just a day’s bad weather or a day of feeling unwell can upset the best laid plans. You can plan for such things, but until it happens, you never know the knock on effects.
But having developed that strategy, according to some people on here, you then have to share it with everyone else; it is public property even to people who have no stake in the expedition. If someone has spent 10 years planning it, he/she owns that information and I don’t see any reason to share it in detail. It would be nice to know, but the golden age of exploration is over and rarely are books published these days with full equipment lists such as some of Blashford Snell’s books. And if you make the planning public,someone else with more money may come along, move 20kg of food further up the route and achieve in 6 months what others spend years developing. Big expeditions need big planning, not just pinching someone else’s unpaid-for work.

To Ben and Tarka,
Glad to hear you are resting and recovering. Staying alive is the number one priority. When you get back to Scott’s hut, you will still have achieved much.

Graham and the girls.

# John Brain, January 3rd 2014

Thank you for this helpful contribution Graham. I am a massive supporter of the expedition and add my moral support to that of many like-minded others. I am also ‘elderly’ and have no direct experience of what Ben and Tarka are so valiantly attempting, but I have read all things Antarctic extensively and get great vicarious satisfaction from this venture.

My problem is that when I read all Ben’s material on preparation, I was left with one or two big unanswered questions, and searched vainly for answers. One was the major issue of how you carried sufficient food for 1800 miles, unsupported and without pre-placed depots. But I just trusted that those who were involved in the planning had obviously addressed the issue in detail. Given that Ben’ wonderful blogs have from the start seemed so open and honest, I rather assumed that we were being told everything. So it came as rather a shock, when the news came of the resupply, and a greater shock to learn of their precarious position on half rations for several days, of which we knew nothing.

Of course we should all respect their decision to tell us what they want and we armchair observers have no right for anything more. They have clearly made the right call, as did Shackleton when he decided to about turn short of the Pole. And we all send them our great hopes for a successful return journey.

# Graham O, January 3rd 2014

John Brain,
I think the problem of “not being told the full story” comes from the world we live in with TV dominated by reality series and so called “celebrities” appearing in the media for the most mundane reasons. While Ben and Tarka are blogging in order to entertain and inform us, I don’t see that they have any obligation to tell us, the public, everything they do or think.
I also don’t understand the word “shocked” to hear of the resupply; a word many have used. Disappointment for them certainly, along with relief that they took the second hardest decision (abandonment being most hard), but shocked is just too strong a word.
For myself, I’ve read all the blogs and quite a few comments and with inside information, there was only one indication that something may not be right. However on a long expedition like this which is by no means guaranteed success, there will always be things which aren’t right. How many of us have got into situations in the mountains which afterwards we just laugh about, but which could just as easily have killed us? At what point do you tell other people? “I’m not happy with this” or “I’m going back” or “We’re going to die”? We will all have different levels and I’m sure that to Ben and Tarka, a few days of reduced rations was acceptable and a considered part of their trek.

# Nansen, January 3rd 2014

Graham O:  I’m sorry - there has been a lack or transparency on this expedition. It did come as a total shock to all followers that Ben and Tarka ran out of food. At no time did they ever indicate that this was likely.  It makes the earlier blogs a little spurious.

# Intrepid, January 3rd 2014

My question is more about being a commentator, blogging and responding to posts, and whether there are boundaries and appropriate responses. You can see how influential the posts from Ben and Tarka’s expedition have been. People young and old are tuning in and becoming impacted as well as motivated in various ways. It is human to feel empathic and respond emotionally to the largeness of the quest as well as the details of each day. I have been captivated by Ben’s blogging and write about what each blog sparks in me. I consider my actions cheering for an incredible physical endurance feat. Even though I am a bystander the virtual reality connects to the realness of my excitement turning the space between imagined and actual into a fine line. I do not wish to step over this line. I will continue letting Ben and Tarka know they are being followed, listened to, and have my support. Sometimes I play around, sometimes I share a little about my view, and all the time I cheer and wish them well.  But still, I wonder what is appropriate to share.  In hindsight I wish I had stepped forward and spoken what was coming up for me >>>  but is it my place to do so?  I am not part of the expedition yet I care very much for Ben and Tarka’s welfare.  Learning from experience, I can say that if there is a next time, anywhere, with anyone, I will encourage myself to choose to speak up because it seems to bother me in hindsight when I don’t. Is it wrong to say what I think or correct to feel wrong about withholding something that may have potential to make a difference.

I do not make promises I can’t keep. I can say I plan to bend the line, move the post, and share what’s up, as that seems to be the most honest way to interact.

# Jörg Diekmann, January 3rd 2014

You guys are absolute heroes. Both of you. It’s still unimaginable to me the pain you have to fight every day in this exhausting and desolate wilderness. Strength to you, and thank you for sharing this journey with such eloquence!

# Laurence B Jacobs, January 3rd 2014

Shackleton turned round less than 100 miles from the pole on the Nimrod expedition, that act was perceived as heroic, intelligent and extremely brave. Your decision to call for resupply is no less so. Wishing you a Tarka an uneventful return.

# Simone Deyzel, January 3rd 2014

It has been wonderful to have been allowed to follow this journey. I was disappointed to see the plane not because of the resupply - but because the previous posts never disclosed the trials you were facing to the severity that came to light in this entry. There’s no shame in calling in the resupply, and I commend you for only taking enough to take you through recovery and to the next depo so that you can continue the journey. It’s heroic in that you haven’t quit considering what you’ve been through. I would just have appreciated if we were let in on the full picture sooner.

# Damian, January 3rd 2014

That was the most touching account of your recent struggle that could have been produced. You and Tarka have pushed yourselves to the limit, realised in good time how close you were to buckling and acted on that information- you can be at no fault for doing the right thing.

There is a reason this journey has not been completed since- because it is very hard. The fact you two are well on your way to completing it, irrespective of the way in which you do it, is achievement in itself and you should not let that be undermined in anyway. 

As men of daring and challenge you will be disappointed that you couldn’t complete the challenge in the way you wished, but as you acknowledged, things don’t always go to plan but that doesn’t extinguish the inspiration you are providing for people all over the world that there are still things to be conquered!

Rest up and keep going. There’s plenty of belief in you both in the UK and around the world to get the job done!


# Joe Wheatley, January 3rd 2014

Best wishes chaps, stay strong and safe. Full respect for the decision you made, your journey and struggle are all the more inspiring for it.

# Michele P, January 3rd 2014

I have been avidly following your journey since a friend (Gav) told me about it in November but have never posted a comment before…after reading today’s Blog I just had to. What you have both achieved to date is remarkable and inspirational and the events of the last couple of days don’t change that at all. Thank you for sharing your deep feelings with us, it has made me and I am sure others understand even more what you are going through. You are right to be proud of how far you have both dug, it is far far deeper than most of us could ever contemplate let alone achieve. Keep safe and keep strong during the rest of your journey home.

# Ray Cassidy, January 3rd 2014

As Catherine says - “Right decision”!  There is no point sticking to an artificial idea and not surviving to talk about it in the pub!  Stunning effort!  Stunning victory of common sense.  Just really pleased you had the means to alter the plan in the light of circumstances.  No point dying on the ice!
Good luck with the rest of the effort!

# Dom Jackman, January 3rd 2014

Don’t normally write comments on blogs but felt compelled to this time. I’ve been following your journey and as a normal civi found it tough to visualise or imagine what it is like out there and quite the enormity of the task you are trying to achieve.

I have no idea what pulling a 200kg+ sled over ice is like or what -50 feels like or what 14 hours of extreme exercise everyday for 2 months is like - hell who does apart from you guys! That blog put the effort into some kind of context really well though. What an incredibly well written piece. I hope you don’t beat yourselves up too much for getting a food drop. Keep going what an epic effort.

# Gavin Keeble, January 3rd 2014

Humanity maketh the men.

# stefan , January 3rd 2014

I am slightly confused by some of the comments in the blog - and indeed from the followers. Clearly the team will review their plan and logistics - and the decision to lose so much weight (depots) so early on in order to make ground up from their early disappointing daily mileage was - unfortunately - not a good one. However - I am disappointed that Tarka should feel any ‘blame’ - and I am not sure that publicly making the comments made in the blog at this stage seem particularly team spirited and are quite personal. I am also intrigued at how a blog of this enormity was constructed and sent during such stressful times. Dont try to justify anything - but the trip you planned didnt happen - surely thats life! But please dont do the usual spin that is fed out by so many - and just accept it.

# tom, January 3rd 2014

must have been a tough call. Sure Scott Shackleton etc would have made the same one.

# Robbie Cruz, January 3rd 2014

Have the guys been evacuated due to Tarka’s frostbite?  I am am very worried for their welfare and am concerned that there is no blog yet for today.

# Francesca Beeching, January 3rd 2014

No, they haven’t been evacuated. They have received the resupply to their tent and will continue their return back to the coast as planned.

# Ulrich Hoffmann, January 3rd 2014

As you correctly pointed out, there will always be naysayers and people who know better. Of course none of them would even step onto a plane to travel to the south pole by plane, let alone be insane enough to walk there ;-)

I think what you guys have achieved is remarkable (add any superlative you like) and I applaude you finishing it.

For the record: I don’t think getting a few power bars dropped from a plane diminishes the task ;-)

Can’t wait for the next update .....

# Mark Swarzer, January 3rd 2014

Robbie Cruz - just because there is an unexplained delay in the blog which is out of character there is no need to assume the worst.  I’m sure everything is ok. The guys know what they are doing and a little bit of frostbite won’t stop them.

# David, January 3rd 2014

Good to hear both of you are feeling better and are safe and sound. This change of events takes nothing from your recent achievements. Wishing you strength and health to complete your journey.

# Janet Stanley, January 3rd 2014

I cannot compete with all these wonderful words & sentiments except to say I echo them all (bar the naysayers) hope all is well & please stay safe!

# Sarah Fenwick, Expedition Psychologist, January 3rd 2014

What an honest, humble and moving account of very challenging times - really bringing to life personality characteristics - especially your strengths -  So the goal posts may have shifted a little ,  successful expeditions are those who can shift the goal posts, if and when necessary, and come through intact and alive - stay safe - you guys really do have what it takes to see this through.

# Enrico, January 3rd 2014

That confirm you are doing a really hard journey! (for those who did not believe it)

# Paige, January 3rd 2014

I haven’t commented before, but feel compelled to now.  I have followed you two from the start, feeling so privileged to watch two men of my time as they make history.  Your post today, Ben, has moved me to tears.  The humility and courage that you and Tarka have shown is remarkable.  The decision to call in support was the right and only decision.  Anything other decision would have been pure and ugly ego.  It is not luck that has brought you this far, but character and grit that few people possess.  Make it home safe.

# Andy Moore, January 3rd 2014

Ben, thank you for your writing.  You were at my house for New Years many years ago (near Aberdeen, with Monkey/Caroline). You talked about how you had been doing your explorer thing for four years at that point and how you thought it’s usual to spend four years, skint, chasing your passion, before it started to pay off.  I’ve been glad of that advice several times, pursuing different passions for that long before seeing them take off, and I’m enormously happy to see that you kept on at yours and that you’ve reached such extraordinary places both geographical and human.  Glad you’re on the mend and masses of support for the rest of the journey. Well done.

# Freddy Cook, January 3rd 2014

Is there a reason the tracker is not moving? Are Ben and Tarka having a rest day?  Or is it something more serious?

# Bruce Coady, January 3rd 2014

I am now following your story due to a Facebook post.
I am amazed at the tolerance u and your partner have .
However I have always wanted to ask these questions and never had a chance to actually converse with an expedition member before…  I am hoping Now is that chance when u are home safe and sound and get a chance to review the comments above..
Why did u and your partner decide to do this in the first place? 
What pushes/drives a person to want to endure the conditions you describe?
What is at the end of the journey for you two?
I am sure those newbie questions have been asked and answered many many times ...
I apologize in advance as I am neither an explorer nor someone that could endure the conditions u and your partner have but I admire anyone that can do what you two have accomplished.
Lastly you made the correct decision to stop and refuel your tired bodies..
God Speed on the trip still ahead. I will be following from Cape Breton Nova Scotia. :)

# Wendy, January 3rd 2014

Love and admire you both more than ever x

# James S, January 3rd 2014

Very few reading this blog post will truly understand how hard you have pushed.  I imagine very few people can push harder.  Welling up, I wish you well for the rest of your journey and make sure you return safe with your heads held higher than they ever have done.  Oh and by the way, the plane has dropped 8 days of rations… not 8 huskies!!  Chapeau gentlemen!

# George Chapman, January 3rd 2014

So many comments on this post it’s hard to keep up with them. I myself realize that I could do nothing nearly as difficult as this expedition and I have no professional opinion on what they should do or not do. It is nice to see all the mushy accolades and I don’t mean to sound critical but it seems there is just way to much mush here. These two explorers are very strong guys and I applaud their efforts. At the end of the day though they will not be able to reach the goal they were attempting. The goal was to get to the pole and back unsupported. You cannot move the goal post in the middle of the game. That’s not to say these guys have not given it their best. They gave their best and that’s commendable but they were not able to achieve the goal. What the reason were does not matter. It is really nice that there are a whole lot of mothers setting on the sidelines cheering their children on, but the coaches on the field will point out the reality of the situation. It’s hard for me to understand some of the accolades such as these guys are heroes.
I have been following this trip from the beginning and It was a really big surprise to me that these guys ran out of supplies. It was never mentioned in previous post of any concern about supplies. We knew they were having electronic problems but that was all that had been mentioned unless I missed something.  It was a wise decision to call in for help when they felt as if their life was in danger.
I hope things continue to go well for the next 40 days or so and I do hope all those mushy comments keep coming the guys on the ice may need these to keep going on. I do believe though these guys are tough and they know how to proceed even though at the end of the day they will not be able to achieve what they set out to do.

# Richard Pierce, January 3rd 2014

Dear George,

With all due respect, I think the unsupported/supported argument is one of semantics, historically speaking. When Ben and Tarka get back to Cape Evans, they will have achieved what no-one has achieved before.

As far as the “mush” is concerned, I do think it worth recalling that we are all humans, and this inevitably means that we’re emotional and irrational. Add to this the fact that this route is a very emotive one anyway. What is wrong with being emotional? As little as there is with being constructively critical.

Having said that, and I will defend to the hilt the right of Kristoffer, you and others to say what you have to say, what I’ve found really odd about this expedition is the way the post mortem is being carried out before the patient is dead, so to speak. That’s the curse of modernity, of everything being switched on 24:7. Let’s leave the analysis until the end of the expedition.

Heroes - what is the definition of a hero? Anyone who does something brave is called a hero, and these two men are no different. From another angle, anyone who goes into an adventure or a war of his or her own volition abdicates the right to be called a hero (and I say this having lost one of my best friends in Afghanistan). Again, it’s semantics. Take your pick.

Once Ben and Tarka get to Cape Evans, the only way in which their achievement can be overhauled is for an expedition to spend one summer laying depots as far south as possible, resting up over the winter, and then marching to the Pole from Cape Evans and back again using the depots laid the previous summer. I can’t see that being done in the foreseeable future - but would be happy to be proved wrong.


# Boris, January 3rd 2014

Hallo, what is going on? Cheers, B.

# Alastair Humphreys, January 3rd 2014

I have a suggestion for comments on this blog:

If you are going to criticise, snipe and concoct theories or failings then at least do so leaving your full name rather than hiding behind a wimpy pseudonym.

Alastair Humphreys

# dj, January 4th 2014

Alastair… With the comments on this post nearing 300 I doubt that you will come back here and read this - I certainly won’t; but, one thing you may want to consider about email and posts, you don’t treat them like we used to always do and sign them.  Especially in your case where you’ve used your full name at your ID it’s unnecessary as it’s already on there at the top.  I’m just repeating what the grand-kids spent a session teaching me so: “you don’t look so old fashioned (foolish) Pa.” Now days when most people see someone do it they think of them as ostentatious; sort of the same thing when someone types in capitals, they consider it shouting.

I do get what you’re saying though.  The anonymity (to everyone but the NSA) provided by the electronic medium is a large factor, I think, in all the rudeness and disrespect found in its pages. People say things in a way they wouldn’t do it to your face, or if they knew their mother would find out. [Except I need to say, with some of the kids these days I wonder if it would even make a difference.]

# Drew, January 3rd 2014

This morning I didn’t have enough milk for my Rice Krispies.  I was forced to endure cold temps until my truck warmed up, for the drive to the donut shop.

We all have our struggles.
Pray for me.

Seriously though.  What you two guys are doing is amazing.

# Greg Blount, January 3rd 2014

This is what adventure is all about.  Hey, if you had as much food left at the end of your trek as you had resupplied, would you technically be unsupported?

# Paul Curnin, January 3rd 2014

Definately the right decision, and to me it takes nothing away from what you are achieving. Good luck and crack on!

# Pete Heady, January 3rd 2014

Ben and Tarka,
You have performed admirably, hauling more than simply a sledge and 200kg of supplies. I have read very word you have passed along and felt as if I were traveling along with you and Tarka, just outside the frame of your photographs, silent witness to a remarkable feat of human endurance. Congratulations on all you have accomplished, all the correct decisions for all the right reasons.
Keep dreaming for without them we are all diminished.

# Charlie , January 3rd 2014


# Dave, January 3rd 2014

Outstanding writing and, more importantly, judgment.  We’ve been to Antarctica (just the peninsula) and back on a tourist junket during the time you and Tarka have been putting one foot ahead of the other and enduring.  That has raised our awareness of your expedition and made us cheer for you more strongly.  I will keep tracking your progress and reading your blogs and will celebrate in some small way the day you complete your journey.  You have nothing whatsoever to be apologetic about and if any detractors or naysayers complain or question, I will be swift to join what surely will be a multitude of fans in expressing respect for your physical and mental strength and phenomenal accomplishment.  Good luck as you continue to press forward.

# Tamara , January 3rd 2014

Totally the right decision. You are both doing an amazing job! Even if it’s no fun now, it will be hell of a thing to look back on and for that you have to make it home in one piece. Hope you are both feeling better and carry on looking after each other. Tamara and Alex.x

# Brad Howard, January 3rd 2014

Carry on gentlemen, you are and allways will be hero’s of mine. Thanks for allowing me to follow you doing something some of us can only dream about….....

# Zoe, January 3rd 2014

You and Tarka are amazing. You made the right decision.
Looking forward to reading more. Keep on! Stay safe. Sending warm thoughts to you from Seattle, Washington.

# Dave T, January 3rd 2014

Ben and Tarka

You are an inspiration. You have achieved what most of us can only dream of.
Chins up and onward!

When the boys are safely home I’m sure they will have a thorough debrief and look at the mistakes they made and how they could have done things differently.
Perhaps they will invite you along to give your expert advice and point out all their failings.

# Kristoffer, January 3rd 2014

As of 1758 GMT, Ben and Tarka are moving again.

# Lucy Scott (Scott's great granddaughter), January 3rd 2014

Ben and Tarka,

I hope you have both gained the sleep and recuperation that you both need.  Many commentators have already written fantastic messages of support to you, and I hope you can read some of them.  There is no shame at all in changing the status from ‘unsupported’ to ‘supported’.  It doesn’t take anything away from what you have already achieved and will hopefully be able to complete.  You should be incredibly proud.

I am no where near as eloquent as you or Tarka, or Scott and his men, but I will say that you have shown incredible fortitude and stoicism, and throughout a really inspiring sense of comradeship and compassion to each other.

Rest up, keep your heads up, and wishing you a safe and swift journey back.


# Nina, January 3rd 2014

Ben & Tarka, in my eyes your accomplishments thus far, and this expedition as a whole, are not diminished by your decision to ask for help. Indeed, the decision to not ask for a resupply has most likely saved your lives, and had Scott had the ability to ask for help from his team I am certain he would have done so. 

I can’t help but notice the mileage counter is now missing from the site. The expedition has changed from unsupported, certainly, but does that mean all of those miles you’ve already accomplished don’t count? I think they count, and I think the miles you’ll do after this resupply count as well. You’ve still pulled those sleds all of those miles, and the only difference is 8 days of food that you weren’t pulling at the start.

Stay strong and keep making good decisions.  You’re both inspiring men.

# Helena, January 3rd 2014

Dear both! Great planning, great preparation and training you did and it paid off. You made it and you won already. You have my deep appreciation and respect. There is still a long trip before you, please be careful about yourself - take more rests, get enough sleep, eat enough and laugh a lot! Greetings from Brno in Czech Republic for the two brave men in the South Pole :-)

# Dave Brons, January 3rd 2014

I was reading about Scott and Oates to my 6 year old son last night. He was both moved and excited. This morning I stumbled across your blog. My little boy was over the moon! You are heroes to me and my boys. We will be following the rest of your journey. Be safe, don’t stop and keep going!

# AndreaTP, January 3rd 2014

I read all your comments,  great people here, I’d love to have a “First/Previous/Next/Last” page indexing ... please mr. webmaster :)
Very glad and relieved to know the guys seem to be moving again.

# Nora Wolfe, January 3rd 2014

When I saw the plane I gasped because I feared one of you or both were desperately ill. Even tho I saw the title regarding resupply I didnt believe it to be that simple. I found it hard to breath until I got into your story a few paragraphs. As I read, I had visions of Shackelton being the leader that saved his men. It was then I realized that it is the leadership of a story that makes a great story. Each of you took turns being the leader in dire times and that is why we follow your every step and wait with you for the final step over the finish line. The real prize in this venture is the humanitarian one, not the physical one.

# George Chapman, January 3rd 2014

I wish these post were organized in reverse order. It takes a long time going from page to page to find the newest unless you figure out the trick of using this link and add twelve more to the link ever hour or so.
Notice the 204 in this link.
There are 12 comments per page.
I do keep up mainly via e-mail

# AndreaTP, January 3rd 2014

Thank you George, I’m using that workaround too, it helps a lot but of course doesn’t substitute navigation, on mobile devices it’s not easy to handle.

# dj, January 4th 2014

George… good comment. Although, they seem to have it set up to print 12 MAIN threads per page and sort of just adds in any ‘replies’ to that thread. When I counted the other night (at 170) some pages had 12, others had as many as 22 - now when I just counted, one had 26 (one where Kristoffer hit a nerve and got landed on.)

# George Chapman, January 4th 2014

Yes after I made that comment I thought about the reply’s, don’t know how many of those but quite a few.  It’s been a interesting day.

# George Chapman, January 4th 2014

Checking my email I see there has been a total of 252 comments and or reply’s on this blog. As of 10:49PM EST.

# Mal Owen, January 5th 2014

Cheers George , has made navigating a little easier :-)

# Jim Scott, January 3rd 2014

My wife and I have followed your herculean attempt from the start.  I have always had difficulty wrapping my head around the magnitude of the demands of such a journey.  The unrelenting cold and daily physical exertion are far beyond the comprehension of anyone who has not experienced them.  The fact that you needed to arrange a resupply does nothing to diminish what you are accomplishing; instead it demonstrates that your stamina and determination are matched with good sense and intelligence.

This current post is the most finely crafted piece of spontaneous writing I have ever read.  Its poignance and heartfelt emotion touch anyone’s heart who has witnessed the immensity of what you and Tarka have achieved.  (Apparently only Kristoffer missed it)  Be well and carry on; if anything our admiration for you both is only increased.

# Rebecca, January 3rd 2014

Well done. You made the right call. You’ve done right by each other, and you’ve given your all. Anyone who would criticize your decision doesn’t have the sense of imagination or empathy to understand what you’re experiencing. If Scott had had a sat. phone, you know he would have called in help to save his team’s life. There is no doubt that we’ll keep following you. Stay safe and best of luck to you both on the rest of your return.

# Mark Evans, January 3rd 2014

Ben/Tarka - you’re both doing brilliantly well. Clearly food availability is a factor that drives you on each day, but try and enjoy where you are, as all too soon you’ll be bored at home, planning the next adventure .... was in a similar situation in the middle of Greenland some time ago, when we made the decision simply to slow down, and enjoy the place we’d dreamt of being for two years, rather than rush and get it over with. What remains is no walk in the park, but you will succeed. Enjoy what remains as much as you can.

# George Chapman, January 3rd 2014

Can someone tell me what’s going on today on the ice. Are the guys moving or have they stopped for the day. It appears from Google Earth that they have only moved 7 miles since their last blog. I’m not sure if the Google Earth tracking equipment is working or what. Where is Andy? We need a little more info from the support team.

# Kristoffer, January 3rd 2014

George, the tracker has updated again, and the ruler tool show the guy have moved 9.16 miles today.

# George Chapman, January 3rd 2014

You’re correct Krist I see now it has moved. Normally by this time they would have progressed nearly 20 miles. I know they took yesterday off but unless I’m confused they should have moved more today.  There has been nearly 200 comments in the last day but for some reason the support team is saying nothing about what is happening. We have one blog here a day and the same blog is on Twitter and FB. With all these ways to communicate with us I’m surprised we cannot get but one official comment per day. I’m sure a lot of folks are concerned about the team and I would think we could get three or four tweets a day from the support team. But now I guess I’m complaining. Do you think the support team gets in touch with the guys on the ice every several hours or do you think they are only hearing from the team once a day?

# Kristoffer, January 3rd 2014

Actually, the support team has posted once, to say that they were not evacuated.  I also wonder why they have not made more progress today.  I suppose we’ll get an answer eventually.

# CaninesCashews, January 3rd 2014

George, I don’t know any more than you, but I think Ben said at the end of his blog they were doing a shorter day today - maybe this is a half day which would be about right on the mileage.
I’m sure we’ll know more tomorrow.

# George Chapman, January 3rd 2014

O yes, I do now remember that comment. A lot of comments here today. Trying to keep up. You did not answer my question. Do you think the support team gets in touch with the guys on the ice every several hours or do you think they are only hearing from the team once a day?

# Kristoffer, January 3rd 2014

Silly me, I forgot to answer.  I honestly do not know whether the support team talks once per day or multiple times per day.

# George Chapman, January 3rd 2014

Thanks CaninesCashews
I get a little nervous with Google Earth having problems the last week and then no info from the team. I wonder what the emergency plan is if they should loose all their technology which I know they were having problems with last week. Can they shoot up some emergency flares and hope to get someone’s attention.

# Scott Expedition Team , January 4th 2014

Ben and Tarka did a shorter day than usual covering just over 9 miles in 4 hours as per the tracker. They are now camped for the evening and will continue their journey tomorrow.

# dj, January 4th 2014

Really… “team”.... how hard would it be to answer the simple question: “how often have you set up the tracking ‘pings’ to come?”  Is that “proprietary information” that you want to keep to yourself for some reason? I know you can add a track-point manually whenever you decide to (like you did at the south pole), but the automatic portion that we watch - how often do they come?

You state that they traveled for “four hours per the tracker.”  How then did the track that was produced get SIX track points (counting ONLY those BEFORE forward motion ceased)?  Do you have it set up to ‘ping’ at other times than by hour time intervals or set at some other number?

I don’t want you to divulge secret information that you think is gonna let someone steal your caches or something; but, really, have a heart on an old mans’ need to understand the world and how it works.

# Hannah White, January 3rd 2014

Ben, you have been my friend for many years now and this has been your dream for far longer than that. A challenge, an adventure, an expedition is about many things. Everyone talks about success, but how does one define success? Crossing a finish line, reaching a geographical point, going further than you thought possible? Maybe all those things, but most importantly it is what you and Tarka have demonstrated over the last few weeks. It’s about integrity, commitment, perseverance. Your journey and the decisions you have made are truly humbling, not to mention the eloquent and generous way you have shared your story. Of all your days on the ice (getting to the ‘startline’, reaching the pole etc) this should be your proudest. The day that you and Tarka put your pride to one side, and made a very smart, very brave decision. You will complete this epic journey, and the glory that will fall on you will be even more deserved. I am so proud of you both,and grateful to Andy, Chessie and the team. Please come home safely. Please eat lots, and please try and enjoy your remaining miles…. H x

# Martyn White, January 3rd 2014

Hi Ben, I’m Hannah’s Dad. We only met once when you impressed me as a serious player and the sort of guy I would treck with to the Pole. You have just made such a good call, and you and Tarka will both live to fight another day. Give me a ring when you get back. I’d be proud to buy you a beer.

# Perran, January 3rd 2014

Your descriptions of the conditions under which you tried to keep going brought most of us to our knees. Your way with words given what you have been through is beyond words.

I fervently hope you will be able to complete the expedition and return to Scott’s Hut, with your heads held high.

God speed and my very best wishes

# Andrea, January 3rd 2014

There is a need there to readapt after the damages caused by the efforts of limit, and to make conceivable the plan for the several days ahead before to reentry in the initial expedition plan .

# Tony Muilenburg, January 3rd 2014

Thanks for not getting yourselves killed :)  You guys truly are an inspiration.  One thing you left out is that the earlier expeditions were not hauling laptops and other communication gear.  I think your story will be all the better in that it truly demonstrates how harsh and unforgiving the environment is.  The amount of weight you guys pull in that environment is unfathomable.  Keep up the good work.

# Scott Expedition Team, January 4th 2014

Thank you everyone for so many wonderful messages of support. As you may have seen via the tracker Ben and Tarka were back on the move again today covering just over 9 miles in 4 hours and are now camped for the night.A blog with a further update from Ben will follow as usual tomorrow morning.




# George Chapman, January 4th 2014

Thanks for the update. With you previous post about having problems with the tracker and one phone I think it was out of service I get a little concerned about these guys on the ice. It’s amazing how many comments have been made here on this one blog. Two hundred or more. A lot of folks caring about these guys. Look forward to following these guys till the end in about 40 days.

# Mal Owen, January 4th 2014

I think I speak for all when I say “we look forward to that.”

# Kristoffer, January 4th 2014

You do speak for me, Mal.

# CaninesCashews, January 4th 2014

I forget where I heard this but I always remember it… seems fitting.
“Glance backward, look heavenward, reach outward, press onward”

# Patty, January 4th 2014

May God bless you.

I, for one, follow along with your journey because you’re quite clearly very decent human beings trying something spectacular, not because of what some record book might say about the status of your mission. That you are willing to share the tough parts in all humility is truly amazing. This post in particular; wow. For those of us who want to live our lives Trying with a capital “T,” the setbacks you’ve experienced and the accomplishments you’ve made, all these stories you’re telling us are of immense value. You inspire us; you remind us what Trying really means.

Onward, and best wishes for the rest of the return journey.

# Andrea, January 4th 2014

At -30C the human organism perceives that he is frowsing , he senses himself like being traped, even when he is in move. The cells do not divide properly, still, the expedition it is necessary to move rapidly for survival causes and for a long time determined by the distance at witch is the South Pole, an effort excuted by the cells and their substances and this temperture can not be changed, not for a moment. The expedition is unsupported. (And in the history, is the least carriers user one.)

# Mike, January 4th 2014

Couldn´t care less about semantics in this case. Maybe you didn’t get the “perfect” expedition you might have wanted, but it sounds like you got something much better. Now, I would like to hug you both, starting with Tarka, for pulling the extra weight, unasked, and without a word. Take care, and thanks!

# Irene, January 4th 2014

Seriously, Ben?  How could you even think to chastise yourself. We are all so in awe of what you’ve already done. On on, hindsight is 20:20 and you have learned much for all. Let’s see you finish this thing good.

# George Chapman, January 4th 2014

A good day on the blogs. There has been 252 comments including reply’s on this blog as of 10:57PM EST. Glad to see all the interest and concern for the guy’s on the ice.

# George Chapman, January 4th 2014

One correction. That total of 252 does not include my post and reply’s which would be about 15 which would bring that total to about 267

# Sharon Hartley , January 4th 2014

This brought tears to my eyes. I’ve recently been reading a number of books that share some immensely courageous and inspirational acts and this is up there with them.
Keep up the great work. Leadership, teamwork, bravery and mental toughness will bring you home safely.
Continue to be Enapay.
Safe travels.

# Paulo Butchart, January 4th 2014

La emoción que siento al leer el post de hoy es gigantesca. Realmente este acontecimiento lo que hace es dar “realidad” a la expedición, y ponernos en contexto sobre el gran riesgo y dificultad de la misma a todos nosotros que los seguimos cómodamente desde un sillón en algún lugar seguro.
Continuaremos siguiéndolos desde México con el mayor de los intereses y emoción!
Gracias Ben y Tarka, verdaderos héroes!

# Dambara Begley, January 4th 2014

Guys, the measure of a man is exactly those qualities you expressed in this post.  It’s the most human, heartful and heroically inspiring of the entire trip.  Tears of joy filled my eyes throughout!... and I’m only one of a crowd of dewey-eyed followers and supporters.  Bless you, thank you, and keep safe, healthy, and writing!

# Levi Bianco, January 4th 2014

Guys, that was one of the most inspiring pieces of writing I have ever read; despite it’s content and the obvious emotion in it, that has raised my spirits and my faith in human endurance further than any ’ polar literature’ I have ever read.
Such an immense change, an epic undertaking is something people like myself strive to have the strength and drive to achieve one day; the presence of such humility in the face of a decision in awe inspiring, and it has been an honor to be able to follow your adventure so far and share a miniscule portion of your experience!
Easy to say of course, but there are so many people behind you here, so much unwavering support that I feel you should not fear the sting of any critics upon your successful return; those who don’t understand are those who will never understand.
I wish you all the best, to try and find a little more Herculean strength to enjoy those last kilometres, and to try to drink it all in; it’s all downhill From here (I hope that’s correct!) and a hard earned hero’s welcome awaits you!
For me, an English outdoor Instructor working hard on his Winter Mountain Leader in Scotland, all of life’s every day trivialities will cease to be quite the burdens they so often can be, and it’ll be that bit easier to put things into perspective. The next time I find myself out battling through weather and whiteout, I shall think of your achievements and dig that bit deeper.

Thankyou, and good luck!

Levi Bianco

# Andrew Wardlaw, January 4th 2014

I’m not sure words can describe the complete respect and awe I have for both of you right now. As said in other comments, life is the most precious of things and gambling with it is not something that should be done. You made the right call at the right time, pushing yourselves to the limits until you couldn’t push any more. In no way shape or form does that decision diminish what you have achieved so far or what you will have achieved when you finish the expedition.

My hat is off to you Ben and Tarka, I’m so pleased to hear you are both safe and now refuelled. Godspeed to you both.

# Joann, January 4th 2014

I am so moved by your journey. The sacrifice one friend will make for another illustrates the beauty of humanity. In the absence of others- when no one is watching we do what is right for one another.  I have been through war and escaped during the civil war in Liberia years ago.  This story reminds me that people in dire situations can still act with compassion.  You both followed your heart and were guided by humility here.  I am so glad you reached out for help.  At first when I heard of your journey I did not understand it.  I told my husband -I made it through war how can anyone willingly subject themselves to such conditions.  Now I see- through your journey I am reminded of the valuable lessons that can be learned from such exposure.  You appreciate life more than others. You live for a cup of coffee- safety- etc.  These are things you know you can live without- because you did it.  I am reminded more of “the real stuff of life"the friendships- and importance of our humanity- thank you again for your journey.

# ED CARR, January 4th 2014

I can only imagine.  Hurry to healing.

# Ben Schoettgen, January 4th 2014

Making the right decision in the name of safety and sanity does not in any way diminish the accomplishment of your journey.  Each night I excitedly check you blog from my warm bed, in my beautiful house, and get inspired planning my next trip into the wild.  Thank you so much for sharing!

# Kate, January 4th 2014

A truly inspiring journey. Doing adventure expeditions is never going to be plain sailing but digging in when the going get tough, making the right decisions and getting to the finish line is what these things are all about.  Nothing will ever go to exactly to plan but don’t lose focus on the incredible achievement you are so close to ticking off.

Loved reading this post.  Go strong, stay safe.

Respect, Kate :)

# Bernie Goldmann, January 4th 2014

Great writing. Your honesty and effort are heroic. Very inspiring on every level.

# Peter Blenk, January 4th 2014

Thank goodness your minds were not addled to the point of preferring pride to self-preservation. Very moving account.

# David Scott, January 4th 2014

I have followed your expedition from the start and have not felt the need to comment before. I read your post and was moved by its honesty. In your task you may feel that you have in someway let yourselves and your people down, but this is not true. You have pushed forward the experience and knowledge of antarctic exploration, you have demonstrated the sheer gravity of the situation that faced Scott and his men. You can use your return journey to further increase this experience and knowledge; to see the ideal distances for food caches, the optimum achievable daily pace in the circumstance, to test whether or not it is indeed possible at all for this type of journey to be completed. You will both learn from this and return wiser and stronger people. Those who may criticise are those who have not genuinely tried anything truly challenging. In this task you are not found wanting. It’s easy for any fool to criticise, and most do !

# Darcy, January 4th 2014

Thank goodness you guys are okay!
I think you both are heroes to be out there living your dreams. Carry on and come back home—safely!

# Jorge Latre, January 5th 2014

So sorry a prime objective was lost.
And, kudos for making the right decision in a state of hunger and sleeplessness surrounded by one of the most unforgiving environments on the planet. Every day I am amazed at what you are doing. I have been training with a 40lb pulk for a race in Alaska and every time I climb a hill with it I think of you and Tarka pulling 10 times more in a crazy place, with limited food and no margin for a mistake of any kind. Your performance blows me away.
By the way, I love planes on skis. Thank you for the pic ;-)

# Michael, January 5th 2014

Incredibly privileged to be reading this and will continue to read with the same gratitude toward your inspiring work as you continue - onward.

# Thomas, January 5th 2014

You live , you win.
Semantics are for the armchair “adventurer”.
It’s amazing how potent food, water and sleep are, eh?

# Anthea Henton, January 5th 2014

I am and always will be astounded by you both.

You teach all that hear your story, that the core of exploration is not about: miles traveled or weights carried, but the conquering your souls. You have weighed your hopes and dreams and found that these are not what form you. You have carried your friendship for each other enabling you to reach beyond previous physical and mental boundaries.
Your “status” has changed from “Unassisted"to “Assisting us all: to a greater understanding of selflessness and bravery”.

Come home safe.

# TEells, January 5th 2014

Ben and Tarka!  You two are awesome!  It was a big shock when I saw the Otter next to the tent on the blog this morning - my immediate thought was medevac?!  I was so impressed when you decided to pitch the tent and call for help. It was a blessing the supplies showed up only 12 hrs later! I’m one of the thousands of admirers and supporters around the world who now want to see you off the ice alive!!

Ben, thank you for the detailed account. How you’re able to write anything under the conditions you’re under is beyond me.

On a separate note, I’m really disappointed to see all the bloody negative commentary on the blog. My prayer is that every contributor to this record posts positive and supporting messages that help to provide energy, hope, and inspiration to Ben & Tarka.

Blessings All!

# Eoghan Hayes, January 5th 2014

Unbelievable story. Only decision and doesn’t even slightly diminish the achievement. Good luck with the rest of the journey.

# @northerngrit, January 6th 2014

Only just come across your expedition and blog, wow

Absolutely amazing and inspiring work.

All the best for your safe travels


# Brendan Smith, January 6th 2014

Perhaps Ben’s own quote best sums up the quality of a leader on this kind of heroic endeavor:  “compassion is more important than glory.” 

God bless!

# sean chapple, January 6th 2014

During my own ski to the South Pole and back (on the other side of the continent)  I discussed at length the ‘supported’ vs ‘unsupported’ option with my team throughout our planning. In reality, often the only ones who really take an interest in the ‘unsupported’ tag are adventurers themselves seeking a tag line or self-made rules on what actually constitutes supported. And are any polar expeditions truly unsupported in the modern age where satellitte communications, GPS and Internet access provide a variety of support. On my journey, having hauled to the Pole without resupply the sheer prospect of retracing our steps over some pretty horrid ground in the rapidly approaching Antarctic winter was tough enough. There have been many an expedition who set out to complete a return journey, but having arrived at the Pole did not relish the thought of repeating the hardship on the return leg. Resupply or no resupply, when you complete your journey you will have joined an exclusive club and achieved a truly remarkable feat.

# Alex Rayner, January 7th 2014

What an incredible piece of adventure delivered right to us.  So amazingly written I feel transported to another world.  I can only imagine the strength it must have taken to make that call.  Gentlemen, it bears little meaning to be assisted or unassisted, what you have achieved is utterly incredible.  Safe travels and Godspeed.

# Anton Uhl, January 7th 2014

Your strength of heart, your courage and strength of character will be inspiration to live through the ages. Much as Shackleton’s “failed” expedition became far more inspirational and enduring for his skillful adaptations to absolute adversity, this journey of yours and Tarka’s will endure and be far more important for what what you are teaching us than for the miles you have covered.
Love always, Anton

# Roisin McCourt, January 8th 2014

What a great post - well written and moving.  Well done on a brave decision.

# Simon Griffee, January 8th 2014

Take care of yourselves out there.

With my warmest regards from Rome,

# Leon Rice, January 10th 2014

You have and will achieve more than most of us could ever hope to. Your compassion for each other is even more admirable than your achievments. Right decision and amazing piece of writing.

# Sergio, January 12th 2014

I’ve been following your journey for sometime, and you’ve already achieved so much. The decision to resupply was the correct decision, and when you return home, it will be a triumph. 

Your journey has been quite an inspiration.

# John Marshall, January 14th 2014

Journeys of the heart are never ending, and they challenge us to explore life further like no other. Journey on gents, journey on.

# Rachel Barenblat, January 16th 2014

Thank God you’re both alive. You did the right thing. This blog post is extraordinary. It’s so easy to forget how insanely difficult what you’re doing is—you make it sound so easy, and of course it is not. I hold y’all in my prayers.

# Heinz Templ, January 18th 2014

As a man enjoing Sports for Fun and keeping myselfe in Shape I cannot Even guess which physical and mental demands your Journey requires and what your bodies and Minds have Given to reach your goal! I Truely admire that irrespectve of any parameters like unsupported or what so ever! Ben and Tarka, you guys and your journey represent a great example of sportsmanship!  As you say -onwards.

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