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.

Round One Hundred and Two (Day 102)

Day 103: S78° 28' 59.05", E168° 30' 28.80"

Duration: 10 Hr

Daily distance: 23.7 Mi

Distance to go: 63.8 Mi

Temperature: -11 °C

Wind chill: -16 °C

Altitude: 161 Ft

This continent seems to be throwing everything it has at us in our final few days. Today we slogged away under heavy cloud cover again, luckily with a sliver of horizon that  - as you can see in the photo - gave us a glimpse of Black Island and made navigating relatively easy, though that was the extent of our view for ten hours on foot. The contrast was too poor for us to see the snow surface and the mess of small ridges and sastrugi underfoot, and it felt at times like we were trying to cross a frozen ploughed field on rollerskates. I fell over hard twice, and even Tarka (who lives in the Alps, whose mother is a ski instructor, and who I believe had his first pair of ski boots fitted shortly after his umbilical cord was cut) stacked it badly this afternoon. We laughed at each other when we slipped over three months ago, but now we're like two frail old men, living in fear of fracturing something in a fall at the eleventh hour of this Goliath trek.

Despite our proximity to the finish line, our sheer exhaustion seems to be standing in the way of us getting excited just yet, and lying in the tent in the evening getting psyched-up for another day of the same after too little sleep is never easy. Tarka's pep talk this evening contained one of his best lines yet: "Mate, we've gone a hundred and two rounds with Antarctica and we've won every one of them. Tomorrow we're going to win round one hundred and three."

That's all for now, as I desperately need some sleep! We plan to do a "normal" day of 38-40km tomorrow and then a jumbo last day on Wednesday 5th, with about 30km before picking up our first depot, where we'll pick up one day's food, pitch the tent, scoff it all, sleep for an hour or so and then carry on for roughly 25km to the shore of Ross Island. Watch this space...


# DJ, February 4th 2014

WOW!  It’s exhausting just knowing you people!  — I guess we know now what your secret was,you’re homesick and want outta that place even if it does you in.  Sleep tight!

# Emma, February 5th 2014

Naw bro, trust each other!

# Tara Carlisle, February 4th 2014

We’re watching! And holding our breath. And keeping everything crossed! And praying even if we never pray.
Thank you.

# AlisonP, February 4th 2014

Yes, exactly what we are doing too!!!  OMG, you are so close now!  Take cate for the rest.

# AlisonP, February 4th 2014

that’s care, not cate!

# James Daly, February 4th 2014

Having worn the same kit as Scott in Antarctica and carried out a small expedition a few years ago, your trip is of epic proportions.
Good luck for the last few days…..I expect you are dreaming of food and sleeping in a bed !
You really are nearly there…..finish it for the memory of Scott and his men !
Bon voyage…..Perhaps see you again in Richmond Park.

# Aleks, February 4th 2014

One of the better thrillers I’ve read in a while! Waking up every morning reading your progress the past couple of weeks has been an inspiring start to the day!

# Sylvie Griffon, February 4th 2014

Dear Ben and Tarka,

I’ve been following your progress reports from the every beginning, admiringly, and with wonder. Having read all I could find about Scott and Shackleton’s expeditions, I’m quite amazed at the exploit (you may have better equipment and knowledge than the first explorers, Antarctica remains the most inhospitable place on earth), and very glad to be able to read your field notes. It’s a bit late to comment about it, but I’ve been moved to tears by what you wrote about Scott on day 99. Although he may be seen by some people as a failure, his personal courage, the way he bared his heart in his journals make him very special. Retracing his footsteps, and sharing it with us as you do, in spite of all that Antarctica is throwing at you, is a great gift for which I will just say “thank you”.

Praying for your success. Farewell and Godspeed.

Greetings from France.


# Richard Pierce, February 4th 2014

Dear Sylvie,

How very well spoken. And I realise I owe you an email from almost 2 years ago. I apologise for being an unreliable old man.

All my very best,


# wonderwoman, February 4th 2014

Only a few more days do go. A few more days of careful going. Only a few more rounds to win. We send good winds to you and pray for your safe return.

# CaninesCashews, February 4th 2014

Hi guys,

I love the ‘normal’ in inverted commas. I’m pretty sure that there is not one single thing normal about this ‘camping trip’.

I like the hundred rounds analogy – can’t get away from the Rocky theme I see – although that would be a hell of a sequel!

Sounds like an epic plan for that final stint – take care.

God Speed and stay safe.


# Jon T., February 4th 2014

only a few more days…  It is quite amusing to see you guys pass by several of the waypoints from your trip out as you take on this final leg of the journey.  I think it is also incredible that you have all of this data that you are collecting and keeping for reference once you get home :)  I am truly blessed to have discovered this project a week before you took off from Chile.

Best wishes and God speed!

# Vimalatharmaiyah Gnanaruban, February 4th 2014

You two are winning round after round and I’m sure will win the last two too. Absolute pleasure to track you throughout the expedition, but still something in me wants more; like a video coverage of the last hour in high definition, bird-eye view from a helicopter annoyingly flyover your head, while a heavy metal band warming up the shore.
In all seriousness, is there anyone at the finish-line waiting for you?
You certainly deserve a celebratory greeting at the end. Speaking of which, here is my favorite in recent years: Diana Nyad at the end her 53 hr swim from Cuba to Florida:

# Jarda, February 4th 2014

Hi Ben and Tarka,
your performance is great and more than incredible. Thank you for your courage and how you have clearly showed how the real polar expedition should look like (using of best available technologies, but at the same time there is a form of return to the roots).
What can we expect from you for the next time? Unsupported crossing of Antarctica as Shackleton had planned it? (but hopefully you will not need to sail the boat to South Georgia :-)

# Mal Owen, February 4th 2014

It might be round one hundred and three but not out for the count , despite all that’s being thrown at you.
As for those last few miles, in the words of Blackadder ‘Sounds like a cunning plan.’
Stay safe and keep aiming for that little black marker.

# David, February 4th 2014

Stay safe and be careful during your last few days of this epic trip. I imagine, as said before, helicopters looking for first sight of you and following you to Discovery point - but that’s note you style

# Bryce, February 4th 2014

It probably been quoted in the past but here it is again. Ben and Tarka, thank you for letting us learn a little from your midnight toils. Your are an inspiration to me.

The Ladder of St. Augustine
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Saint Augustine! well hast thou said,
    That of our vices we can frame
A ladder, if we will but tread
    Beneath our feet each deed of shame!

All common things, each day’s events,
    That with the hour begin and end,
Our pleasures and our discontents,
    Are rounds by which we may ascend.

The low desire, the base design,
    That makes another’s virtues less;
The revel of the ruddy wine,
    And all occasions of excess;

The longing for ignoble things;
    The strife for triumph more than truth;
The hardening of the heart, that brings
    Irreverence for the dreams of youth;

All thoughts of ill; all evil deeds,
    That have their root in thoughts of ill;
Whatever hinders or impedes
    The action of the nobler will; —

All these must first be trampled down
    Beneath our feet, if we would gain
In the bright fields of fair renown
    The right of eminent domain.

We have not wings, we cannot soar;
    But we have feet to scale and climb
By slow degrees, by more and more,
    The cloudy summits of our time.

The mighty pyramids of stone
    That wedge-like cleave the desert airs,
When nearer seen, and better known,
    Are but gigantic flights of stairs.

The distant mountains, that uprear
    Their solid bastions to the skies,
Are crossed by pathways, that appear
    As we to higher levels rise.

The heights by great men reached and kept
    Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
    Were toiling upward in the night.

Standing on what too long we bore
    With shoulders bent and downcast eyes,
We may discern — unseen before —
    A path to higher destinies,

Nor doom the irrevocable Past
    As wholly wasted, wholly vain,
If, rising on its wrecks, at last
    To something nobler we attain.

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