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...


# sue and noodle, February 4th 2014

Its often said, ” the longest mile is the last mile home “. I can equate it to driving home with a few miles to go and struggling to keep eyes open and stay awake. You don’t have the choice of pulling into a layby for forty winks, you just have to keep pulling and I know you will.
I will miss my daily fix of reading of your inner strength , courage and determination. , and Tarks, I know Boogie and Katie, whoops, Katie and Boogie will be pleased to have you home as we all will.
As always,
Much love form Sue, and a woof from Noodle

# Ariane, February 4th 2014

Adding my prayers, incantations, positive visualizations etc to the rest.

You’ve got this.

# Janet Stanley, February 4th 2014

Last leg of any journey is always the hardest, please stay safe :)

# DaveT, February 4th 2014

Ben and Tarka - as many have said, an inspirational and fantastic achievement! Your experiences, so well relayed via this blog, have given us real insight into what Scott and his men must have struggled against 100 years or so ago.
Two questions arise in my mind from your latest blog, which perhaps someone else might be able to answer if you are too hard pressed:
1. Do we understand why White Island remains covered by snow whilst Black Island evidently doesn’t?
2. Will this web site continue to provide information on your subsequent activities, lecture tours etc, once the great adventure is over?

# Dave, February 4th 2014

Good questions, Dave.  Regarding #2, I fear we’ve become Ben and Tarka addicts.  We had John Evans of the first team to scale Mount Vinson on our Antarctic cruise in December.  He was terrific, and I can imagine that both Ben and Tarka would be hugely popular focal points in a similar role someday in the future.

Continued safety and progress.

# martin hartley, February 4th 2014

“If you are going through hell, keep going” Winston Churchill

I think you have mastered the art of that.. W Need to see close up photos of your faces at the end of the day..outside the tent please

# andrew, February 4th 2014

cutting umbilical cord? No, this one has a 1/8” BSP taper bung. From memory there is a locking wire. Pretty reliable, as is the whole system. Go Go gear now, you are going to get there.

# kiwawa, February 4th 2014

Have you picked out a song you have planned to pass the finish line to? Ill be waiting by the phone for the next three days. Your loving sister X

# Mal Owen, February 4th 2014

@kiwawa I realise your question wasn’t for me ... Strange but I was just listening to Jon and Vangelis’ I’ll Find My Way Home (I know the lyrics are supposed to have religious meaning) but I think music is what you personally feel and read.
Apart from the beautiful music which for me when I close my eyes, is spurring B&T onwards, many of the lyrics seem somewhat appropriate for these last moments.

# Janet Carey, February 4th 2014

You’ve more than earned your place in history - awesome. Stay safe on the final leg and enjoy.

# Arthur Blackwell, February 4th 2014

We ( the World ) are waiting for you to finish safely fellows.

Would love to see you both in Hobart, Tasmania sometime.

The building that Douglas Mawson had built for radio contact with his expedition still stands on the site where it was built over one hundred years ago, it is being looked after and still in use by the local Amateur Radio Group. “By May 1912 the Hobart wireless station was in working order, ‘which greatly facilitated wireless business,’ Sawyer wrote.”


” Then on 8 February (1913) came a second signal from Antarctica – an intercepted message from Cape Denison to Aurora asking that the ship return to collect the rest of the party as Mawson had returned but Ninnis and Mertz were dead. The Macquarie party was shocked at the news, wrote Ainsworth – compounded the next day when news came from Australia of the loss of Robert Scott’s South Pole party. “

Cheers and stay safe
Arthur Blackwell

# Richard Pierce, February 4th 2014

Thanks very much for this, Arthur. The Mawson story is often only mentioned as a footnote in history, but is as riveting and tragic as that of Scott’s expedition. R

# Dave, February 4th 2014

I, along with much of the rest of the news-following world, was introduced to the story of the Mawson Expedition when the Akademik Shokalskiy became icebound.  Antarctica is much in the news as of late.

# Dave in Michigan, February 4th 2014

Ben & Tarka,
Once again I want to thank you for taking us with you on this epic journey.  From your daily logs we feel like we watched you pull that sled, we heard the squeaky snow, we sat inside that crowded tent, we watched you dig snow and melt it to make water, and we saw you sitting on your sleds taking each well deserved break. And it wasn’t like reading a book because we knew it was happening in the present. 

While you are walking in this vast foreign land we are living ordinary lives clearing the snow off from our cars, shoveling snow off the driveway and going to work. Each reader is living their own “adventure” while reading about a real one happening in Antarctica. Thanks for the inspiration and the effort it took to bring us along with you. Be well on these last few days. Enjoy!

# Alper, February 4th 2014

Godspeed! So gripping to read this. Rooting for you guys to arrive safely!

# Rebecca, February 4th 2014

I’m continually astonished not only by the hard work you’re putting in for 100+ days in the most terrible conditions, but that you somehow find the wherewithal to write something here for us each day. We all thank you for giving us this touchstone, and hope that, in your more leisure days to come, you’ll have the chance to read all our comments and know how grateful we are that you’re sharing even a tiny bit of your experience with us. The next couple of days will be awful and glorious, and you’ll be in our thoughts every step of the way. Safe journey, be well.

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