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.

Scorchio (Day 25)

Day 25: S80° 14' 55.08", E168° 42' 35.46"

Duration: 8 Hr

Daily distance: 13 Mi

Distance to go: 1602.1 Mi

Temperature: -11 °C

Wind chill: -20 °C

Altitude: 207 Ft

Pretty much perfect weather today. The Kestrel weather meter said -11 degrees C. this morning and -20C windchill, but blue sky and beaming sun meant it felt a great deal warmer. We had a slight headwind for the first couple of hours - enough to need a mask but not full-on goggles - and then it became stiller and hotter as the day went on. We skied the last hour with our jackets flapping open, salopettes unzipped at the sides, fleece headbands covering our ears and thin gloves instead of our usual jumbo mittens.

We're in the tent now in just our thermals and it's incredibly warm in the bright sunshine. It seems strange to think that just a couple of weeks ago we dived straight into our sleeping bags as soon as the day ended, and I remember trying one night to decide whether to sleep with my gloves on or not. It's remarkable how little we wear when the weather's good.

Minus twenty windchill sounds cold, but here's a list of everything I wore when we started skiing today:

- Alfa North Pole Extreme GTX ski boots with Intuition Universal liners

- Smartwool Mountaineer socks (I no longer wear my thin Bridgedale Coolmax liner socks and my feet seem happy, warm and blister-free in one pair of socks. Tarka wears his liners and loves them)

- Compressport calf guards (a bit of an experiment but so far, so good)

- Patagonia Capilene thermal leggings (thin ones, I can't remember the exact name)

- Skins compression shorts

- Patagonia Capilene boxer shorts

- Mountain Equipment windproof salopettes (custom-made)

- Patagonia Capilene long-sleeve thermal top (zip neck, thin material and not the thicker expedition-weight)

- Mountain Equipment windproof jacket (custom-made)

- Marmot wrist warmers

- Mountain Equipment Touch gloves (thin fleece liner gloves)

- Brenig Pertex/pile mittens (custom-made, and I switched to Mountain Equipment Randonee gloves when it got warmer)

- Outdoor Research Gorilla balaclava

It looks like a long list, but we were really just wearing thin thermals and a windproof outer layer, with no insulation. Skiing hard, that's all we needed to regulate our temperature, and we put on our big Mountain Equipment Gasherbrum down jackets when we stop for breaks.

On colder days I also add a second pair of Mountain Equipment thermal leggings (I can't remember their name but we call them Ninja Pants...) and we have a couple of weights of fleece jackets to choose from, the warmest being a Mountain Equipment Concordia jacket.

We broke the 13 mile barrier for the first time today, so we're celebrating with freeze-dried lamb stew this evening.

The photo is of one of our vacuum-packed food bags; rations for both of us for 24 hours and pretty much 6,000 calories each.

And finally a belated thank you to Tony for his satellite-transmitted joke. More please! (What do you do if you're attacked by a group of clowns? Go for the juggler.)


# Carlos, November 19th 2013

It’s great to be able to follow your progress every single day.
It’s also great to see that after almost one month staying 24/7 in the biggest freezer of this planet, you are able to be as optimistic as first day.
Best wishes from Mallorca

# Hilary SNAITH, November 19th 2013

Really enjoying all the posts. Very glad everything going so well and the weather playing along. And love the clown joke - fits my sense of humour perfectly!!

# Joe, November 19th 2013

Hi Ben - Didn’t you do 12.9 miles on day 1 ???  Which is more than 20k.? Will the day stats be going up later as they haven’t appeared yet.  Could you work with 1 set of data - we have nautical on the tracker / statue on the blog and Expedition header - and now k ... ! Will we be hearing more about the current sled weight - as it seems your distances have progressed to almost double. When are the videos and more photos being posted. Look forward to hearing from you.

# Scott Expedition Team, November 19th 2013

Thanks Joe. The conversion has been corrected. It should read broke the 13 mile mark. Ben and Tarka’s sleds are getting progressively lighter and as expected they are beginning to cover greater distances daily. Three new videos have been posted on the Scott Expedition YouTube channel in the last three days. Here’s the link They .will also be linked in to the blog shortly.

# Anthony Goddard, November 19th 2013

@Joe, when you say ‘nautical on the tracker’, what tracker are you referring to?

# Kevin Wilson, November 19th 2013

I’ve just been on google earth. Ben said earlier in the blogs that Tarka was the only person wearing the tracking device?
So how are they in the tent and they are also 3.66 Nautical miles away from the tent? In other words how can they be in 2 places at the same time?

P.S. Chessie, I’m still waiting for thereply to my direct email to you yesterday.

# Anthony Goddard, November 19th 2013

@kevin the blog workflow with satellite comms means that the posts are relayed via the team in London, so posting times depend on logistics in the tent as well as back in London. The posts will never be as ‘live’ as the tracking, but both blog and tracker are setup to get the info out as fast as possible.

# Scott Expedition Team, November 19th 2013

Ben and Tarka have broken camp for today and are currently together, walking South as you can see from their current position on the tracker.  To contact the Scott Expedition Team please use .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or the contact form on the website.

# Kevin Wilson, November 19th 2013

Hi Anthony Goddard, thanks for that. It did the same last night at 23:20 GMT. The curved arrow was showing the teams position on route (but no tent) and the tracking marker was 1.82 NM further on. Never noticed it before until last night, usually the 2 markers are together.

# CaninesCashews, November 19th 2013

Hi Kevin, in your last post you talk about the curved arrow and the tent - I wonder if you are using the tracker from rather than the official tracker from this website -
The official tracking just uses the standard red marker for current position and light blue for the blog post markers.
Hope this helps.

# Offroading Home, November 19th 2013

Mssr’s Wilson and Cashew… A couple notes about the “current position” markers.  If you are “zoomed in” close to the ground you will see that the current position bounces around about every hour during every sleep period. That’s due to small known errors in the satellite system - which are really too small to be significant for most of us. We know that they’re not sleep walking, which is why I’ve begun merely using a stationary tent icon for their sleep period in the Offroading Home resource map.

Once the team begins moving, I replace the icon with a red dot containing a link back to the “official” Ben page’s daily blog post.  The “Unofficial Scott Expedition Google Earth Resource Map” being compiled by Offroading Home is offered free as an enhancement resource for those of us “nerds” who want a little more “science and understanding” out of the experience. Because much of the other resources in the file would be meaningless without a “current position” icon, I’ve been hand-coding the icon from the “real” Ben site as often as I can through the day - sometimes it lags a bit.

I would much rather be including the real position through an API, like we’ve seen done on other expeditions we’ve followed, but that’s not how this expedition has chosen to handle it for now; which, for resource purposes, is just fine I guess. Frankly, I’ve got both files open on my desktop, live in Google Earth all day. Which is why I’ve used two different styles of icons so it’s not confusing. Once you know which one is which, they are easy to keep apart. The “official” site uses the standard Google Earth “pointy-bubble” icons. On the Offroading Home map we’ve made our own and use small colored dots, a curved arrow and the “Ben and Tarka tent.”

The resource map contains other Antarctica expeditions, web cams, glaciers, mountains and weather stations [ available at ] and we are working on a file which will display the aurora status over their route. If you think of other information which will be helpful to you, let us know.

# Alastair Humphreys, November 20th 2013

Hi Kevin,
It’s great to see people so fascinated by this expedition.
I’d just urge a modicum of appreciation of the trip:
it’s two blokes pulling a big sledge full of freeze-dried food and a tent. Every so often they dump a bag of food to eat on the way back. They mark where the spot is so they can find it. The weight of the sledge goes down each time they dump stuff. But I don’t think it really matters any more than that.
Their daily distances will vary. They walk as far as they can each day, then they go to sleep. If that distance is small (bad weather, sticky snow, sastrugi, wimpishness, lassitude) then they’ll just have to walk further another day. Their energy will vary, their enthusiasm for detailed blogs will vary (remember they are writing, lying down, in a cold tent, after slogging hard all day). It’s not NASA - microscopically detailed by very clever people - where every detail is mission critical. This is two smelly blokes who get excited if they find a morsel of yesterday’s dinner in their beard.
It is a journey about physical and mental challenge, historical comparison, beautiful landscapes, and adventure. The spreadsheets and the weighing scales are just a small part of making that happen.  Let’s try to remember that, and keep this “commenting community” positive, encouraging and upbeat.
Best Wishes,

# Ann, November 19th 2013

Congratulations Ben and Tarka on all you have achieved on this amazing endeavor!  It is good to hear you sounding so upbeat and to see that you have picked up your pace considerably in the past several days.  I suppose the lighter sleds combined with warmer temperatures makes it easier to pull.

Would you or one of your support staff back home please comment on the overall schedule and your progress to date?  Henry Worsley commented, in his discussion of the route, that you anticipated making 15 miles a day in the early stages across the ice shelf.  You have not made that kind of progress yet, and in the first week or so you made closer to seven or eight miles a day.  Are you hoping to increase your daily mileage over the remainder of the Ross Ice Shelf to make up some time, especially as you are pulling lighter loads in warmer temperatures? What kind of daily progress do you anticipate over the Beardmore Glacier where the terrain will be more challenging?  And what kind of progress do you anticipate when you are crossing the plateau at high altitude?

If you are able to continue at your current pace of thirteen miles per day, you will take an additional 54 days to reach the pole.  Assuming that you have 120 days worth of food, continuing at your current pace will leave you with 41 days to return.  That would require that you travel nearly 22 miles per day all the way back.  Is that doable? How much assistance do you expect to get from the kites on the return and across how much of the route will you be able to use them?

If you think you can’t complete the expedition in 120 days would you try to extend your time by reducing your daily rations?  If so, how many additional days do you think you can safely add?

Wishing the balmy weather continues and that you stay safe and warm!

# Scott Expedition, November 19th 2013

Hi Ann,

Thanks for the support, it really does mean a lot to Ben and Tarka.

As you have seen the daily distance they cover is on the increase everyday as their sleds get lighter. The soft snow and headwind did indeed hamper their progress on the early days but they are definitely in a position to cover the miles they need to complete the journey. On the return leg they will be able to cover much larger distances than they currently are as their sleds will be at their lightest and they have their seven depots to ski between. The Beardmore glacier will just require longer days to keep the miles ticking over.

Ben and Tarka do not have kites and will be purely human powered on the return journey.

Thanks again for the support.

# George Chapman, November 19th 2013

The miles are adding up day by day. I look forward to seeing your post and Photos everyday. Looks like it’s getting warmer only -11 degrees lol. Us folks here in Florida think it’s cold when it get’s below 60ºF. Take care of yourself and I wish you a good day.

Following you on FB and Google Earth from sunny Central Florida U.S.A. Todays temperature 76ºF at   AM EST.

To see a live cam from McMurdo Station
Click here:

# dj, November 19th 2013

As you may know already, the web cams for both the McMurdo and South Pole stations not only depend on the camera’s functioning in the cold but the schedule for the satellite “fly-overs” as well. The South Pole station’s cam has been “off air” much of the time, but I’ve just noticed (19Nov 11:50am US MDT) that it’s gone up live now and shows a fair grey-out. [Links to both cameras have now been added to the unofficial Scott Expedition Resource File.]

# George Chapman, November 19th 2013

dj, How do you know these camera’s are not working. Every time I have looked at them they seem to be working but maybe you know something I do not know. If you have a different link then maybe you can post it here. I really do not want to install the ” unofficial Scott Expedition Resource File.”  Thanks for your help.

# Offroading Home, November 19th 2013

Woo HOO!  From the looks of things here (1:54 pm US MDT) they’ve now pitched camp at an un-officially highest mileage yet: 13.8 miles. It’ll be interesting to see what tomorrows blog post says is their mileage.  Something changed 3 days ago that, to my reasoning, hasn’t been explained yet.  Weather? Ice consistency? Weight? Sled configuration? Going downhill?  A simple change in their skill/fitness couldn’t make such a sudden and dramatic change.  Whatever it is, “we likes it” - just wish we knew exactly what it was so they might could do it again.

# dj, November 19th 2013

George… info about the cams comes from digging through the info on the cam’s site.  The link to the McMurdo cam you’ve already given (I have the same link in the reference file).  The link to the South Pole cam is down the same page; but, often it has a disclaimer that it’s not always functioning. Today, when I just looked, it was up and running and showed buildings inside a grey out.  The info about satellite coverage is on the Pole cam page and it has links to other pages which calculate the satellite fly-bys.

Just so you’ll know. The “reference map” is NOT something that you need to “install.”  It’s just a map that you can show in GE or not. If it’s open, just don’t answer “yes” when Google asks if you want to save your placemarks and it’ll be gone - ho harm, no foul.

# George Chapman, November 19th 2013

dj, Thanks for your answers. I had never scrolled down to the bottom of the page and seen the South Pole live cam. Take care and thanks again.

# CaninesCashews, November 19th 2013

Hi guys,

Only a couple more miles til you break that 200 mark.
Thanks for the list today, how long does it take you to get ready with that lot to put on??

What a great mileage - keep it up.

Stay safe.

# Bård Haug, November 19th 2013

You look thinner in your cheeks already Ben. Have you lost weight?

# Jack , November 19th 2013

Hi guys - Still no blog from Tarka….would be good to hear his perspective. Reading the other followers comments it would appear that you are now travelling with much lighter sledges - how many kg have you deposited / I too noticed in your photo that you sledges are much less packed than previously. As Ann has asked I am curious about the Beardmore strategy. Thank you.

# Scott Expedition, November 19th 2013

Hi Jack,

Fear not, Tarka has had his arm twisted by Ben and will writing a blog tomorrow night.

Exact sled weights will not be updated throughout the expedition. As stated previously Ben and Tarka set out with almost 200kg from the coast. Their sled will get progressively lighter as they consume food and fuel and leave depots on their outbound route towards the South Pole for use on their return. As you’ve seen they’re making good progress - especially in the last couple of days and are on track as planned.

# Jack, November 19th 2013

Thanks for the reply team - great news that we will hear from Tarka at last ...although I am now confused ? According to Bens blog they started with their 200kg from the airfield ? I think he said about 32 km inland ??? Will more pics be uploaded on the blog ?

# Andy Ward, November 19th 2013

Hi Jack. The airfield is on the sea ice at McMurdo, so beyond the coastline. There will be more photos coming daily and video too.

# RhiRhi, November 19th 2013

Really enjoying the blog, photos and videos. Thanks for taking the time to keep us up to date everyday when you must be absolutely exhausted after 8 hours of hard skiing.
You mentioned previously that you had to put on extra weight before the start of the expedition - this I guess you will loose & possibly more over the expedition.
Do you have any way of keeping check of how much weight you are losing - maybe to make sure you are not losing weight at a faster rate than expected??
Here’s a joke for you.
5 guys in a Audi quattro are pulled over by the gendarmes at the french payage. Unaware of the offence -  the officer informs them that one of the passengers must get out of the car and take a taxi - it is a quattro and therefore there can only be 4 people in the car.  The driver tries to argue with the gendarme but he refuses to let them go on with 5 in the car -  they demand to speak to his boss! - “Sure” replies the gendarme “but you’ll have to wait he’s over there dealing with 2 idiots in a fiat uno”..
Hope it stays sunny & wind free for you both - Good Luck & Bon Voyage!

# Laura, November 19th 2013

What did the fish say when he hit a concrete wall?


Just want to say hello from Utah, USA.  We are so lucky to be able to follow along on such an incredible adventure.  My husband, my 3 year old son, and I look forward to all of your updates!  You guys are a real inspiration to us and a great reminder of what the human spirit is capable of.  Thank you!

# sarah, November 20th 2013

Congrats on breaking the 13 mile threshold - hope the lamb curry lived up to expectations.

# Austin Duryea, November 20th 2013

Congratulations on finally getting to thirteen miles. I got a joke for you.

What do you call a pig that does karate? A PORK CHOP!

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