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.

The First Whiteout (Day 8)

Day 8: S78° 9' 57.6", E168° 28' 3.36"

Duration: 6 Hr

Daily distance: 7 Mi

Distance to go: 1746.4 Mi

Temperature: -16 °C

Wind chill: -28 °C

Altitude: 138 Ft

The Antarctic weather is anything but consistent, and after falling asleep to blazing sun last night, we woke to the mildest temperatures yet, but a strong wind and a full-on blizzard with zero visibility. We steered into a whiteout for about three quarters of the day, though when the banks of cloud lifted, the view, replete with fast-moving spindrift snaking round our ankles, was breathtaking.

The surface has stayed kind to us, and today was our second-furthest distance, despite calling it a day after six hours. We're leaving a depot in two days' time, so we should start moving better after that.

I wanted to send a quick hello from Antarctica to Dirk and Kaspar, and to say a huge thank you to James Lindeman and Anthony Goddard for working so hard behind the scenes on this website to keep it all working. And thanks everyone for the low-temperature mirage explanations!

Here are some answers to a few questions we've been sent...

Q) Is it sastrugi in your photos?

A) Quite possibly in some of the earlier photos, though there isn't any around at the moment. I'm sure we'll bump into some before too long...

Q) Do you have a particular affinity with anyone in Scott's team?

A) (Ben) After reading David Crane's brilliant biography, probably Scott himself. (Tarka) No particular affinity, though Birdie Bowers sounded like an incredible man, and pretty nails.

Q) How well do you sleep? For how long?

A) As we're so tired, pretty well! Averaging seven to eight hours at the moment. It's 24-hour daylight and we're actually sleeping during the local daytime, so we have eyemasks. It can actually get uncomfortably warm in the tent at midday.

Q) What watch do you wear?

A) I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to share about this at the moment, but I have a prototype Bremont Supermarine Terra Nova. It's Bremont's first titanium watch, so it's lighter than the regular Supermarine, and it has a third hand that rotates once every 24 hours, that's useful for navigation (it shows New Zealand time on my watch, while the hour and minute hands are on UTC, if that makes any sense). It's a mechanical watch, so no batteries to die in the cold, and it's proved super-reliable so far, even strapped outside my jacket sleeve during the day. I'll send photos soon.

I've also sent a photo of our tent as someone asked for one! It's a Hilleberg Keron 3GT, completely standard, apart from snow valances around the outside.


# Kevin Wilson, November 2nd 2013

After reading one of the comments yesterday about average miles per day during the expedition. It doesn’t say anywhere how long the expedition takes, there are no set dates mentioned. So what date do you have to be back to McMurdo by?  The season in Antarctica will end at some point and I’m sure that all the followers including myself would like to know.

# Bobby Saunders, November 2nd 2013

Kevin, 120 days, or there about.

# Scott Expedition (Chessie, November 2nd 2013

Hi Kevin. It’s expected to take approximately 110 days. They’re operating at the very edges of the season and are hoping to complete the journey mid-late February 2014.

# Kevin Wilson, November 2nd 2013

I don’t want to keep banging on about the same point again, but this is exactly what I was talking about in my comment, different time scales. Now I’ve been given 2 different answers by 2 different people. 120 days and 110 days. So which one is it?  either the 11th or the 21st of February is when the have to be back to the starting point?

# Nick, November 3rd 2013

It’s an expedition, not an scheduled Qantas flight. It will take them as long as it takes, and I’m sure they’re going as fast as they can - 110-120 days sounds like a pretty fair guestimate to me.

# Alastair Humphreys, November 6th 2013

Hi Kevin,
If they can do it in 110 days, they will.
If it takes them 120 days, it will take them 120 days.
So long as they get to the end in time for the last flight home then it matters little.

Next year the “speed record return journey on foot” saga can begin…

# Caninescashews, November 2nd 2013

Hi guys - so pleased to hear the surface is better. Must be a good to have a bit of relief both physically and emotionally, however small.
What kind of weight will you be dropping off at the depot?
Keep safe,

# Štěpán Hnyk, November 2nd 2013

Hi Ben and Tarka,
me and my wife love your blog and the whole idea of completing such powerful story. It’s incredible to be able to follow you across the world. I hope you will make this into a book – something new generations could look up to in awe. (I would be glad to translate it into Czech.)

Stay strong and optimistic. You’re heroes and the world will always need people like you!

Many greetings from Dobruška, Czech Republic.

# Louise thomas, November 2nd 2013

Here Here

# Joe, November 2nd 2013

Hi - I am a little confused about the mileage? Ben mentions in the latest blog that this was his 2nd furthest distance at 7miles. On day 1 he recorded 12.9 miles and on day 2 a distance of 7.8.miles. ? On day 1 it doesnt say the duration it took to cover the 12.9 miles ?  Why did the mileage seem to drop so much after Day 1? Is there a reason they are dropping a depot soon soon into the Expedition - wont they be able to offload a very small depot ?
Do we know how many depots are planned…? Also -  Are these miles in statute miles or nautical miles.?

# Scott Expedition (Chessie), November 2nd 2013

Hi Joe. The mileage is in statute miles. The difference between distance covered on day one and subsequent days is to do with the different surfaces and ability to haul the sleds at varying speeds. All the best

# Joe, November 2nd 2013

Thanks for your reply . Following the journey avidly .Are you able to give us the nautical mile differential as because they are travelling lat /long I believe there is a difference in the actual distance..also are you able to confirm the endcdate(or at least the date they have to be back at mcmurdo . I thought there was always an end date for extraction due to the end of season . (I notice there seems to be a discrepancy in the response to another follower on the number of ‘walking’ days . Great that they have such fantastic conditions. Thanks guys .Onwards!

# Jon, November 2nd 2013

Guys - admirable updates so far but I’m sure you are pretty shattered each eve and I know you will have less and less time and energy in he tent as you get further into the interior, so don’t feel you need to update us every day. A bit of suspense will be good for us. Also the days become so monotonous that writing something new will be hard, especially on our calorie deficits ( by the way what’s your daily deficit)
The photos are great - movies ???

# Scott Expedition (Chessie), November 2nd 2013

Hi Jon. We’ll post the video on YouTube shortly and pop a link up here. It will be in the next couple of weeks.

# Joe, November 2nd 2013

In reply to Kevins question   - I thought the Expedition says it is 110 days - everything I have read regarding the expedition states they are walking for 110 days - so they should finish their trip on Feb 11th by my reckoning?? Is that right>? Be great to know as I am following the daily blogs… Good point though - who is picking them up - as the season seems to suggest the usual company ends their season in January..? Onwards and upwards ( the Beardmore) !guys…

# Kevin Wilson, November 2nd 2013

Hi Joe- The reason I was asking is because I’d read about the 110 days but I’d also read that it was a 4 month expedition, those extra days make a big difference to average miles and to success or failure. I was talking yesterday with a good friend in the US and was told that the last flight out from Antarctica by the logistics company ANI/ALE is the 27th January, so it’s all getting very confusing. Be good if the expedition team could confirm what the departure date will be. There’s no reason to hide the exact date, not as if it’s a top secret mission and it would be a good point to discuss or comment on.

# George Chapman, November 2nd 2013

The day 8 marker is not located in the correct place on my Google Earth. If someone from the support team would check on this please. You can see it is way off the path. Thanks for all the work you guys are doing. Enjoy reading the updates and others post’s.

# Anthony Goddard, November 2nd 2013

@George, thanks - we had a small error in the feed. The location should be correct now and will automatically update in the Google Earth feed.

# Jon, November 2nd 2013

@kevin - ALE’ published dates are are approximate and weather dependent, and I’m sure Ben has custom non-standard logistics in place that are different to most expeditions that are run. Also once up onto the plateau their daily distances should be up to over 20 miles per day and the return from the pole could be huge daily distances if the march for 10 hours or so. Of course the support team can correct and provide all this info.

# Kevin Wilson, November 2nd 2013

Jon, Thanks for joining in the debate but I don’t think you fully understand. Good to see that both Joe and Steve have the same thoughts, so it’s not just me, because it doesn’t work out. You mention over 20 miles per day on the plateau. Can you name someone that has constantly done that distance on the plateau day in day out while carrying all their gear ? And secondly, as the distance stands at this moment 1,746.4 miles with around 100 days to go, they must do an average of 17.46 miles per day from now. If they continue to do distances of 7 miles per day then in 10 days they are 100 miles behind. And remember this is without any hold ups due to the weather,  3 days of bad weather and there’s 52.38 miles lost.  They still have to reach the Beardmore and the tough part, ALL before they even reach the plateau, which due to the high altitude causes more problems….  All this just because I asked for the date they have to be back at the start… tell you what… I’ll think of another question for tomorrow

# Michael, November 2nd 2013

Hi guys, have you seen any animals so far?  Good luck from Czech Republic

# Steve, November 2nd 2013

I’m really enjoying the blog, but i cannot work some timings and mileage out. Obviously i’m being totally stupid here ?? Even with an average of 10 miles per day, you are looking at 170 ish days? Yet some posters are saying the trip will take 110 days.I take it you will up the pace.;-)
IIRC Scott was doing 10-15 miles per days on the outward journey. I know you are pulling more though. Maybe i should compare it to Evans’ team who manhauled the longest

# Jonathan & Helen Haile, November 2nd 2013

It is great having a “Ben"expedition blog again.This brings back memories of your Arctic trip but also highlights the differences. At least, this time, you do not have to worry about the ice drift landing you further away than where you started, nor having to swim. And no polar bears to worry about!

I am sure my cousin, Frank Debenham, would be cheering you on and confidently waiting again in Scott’s hut for your safe return.

# George Chapman, November 2nd 2013

Looks like the guys have had another good day. I notice they have stopped for today (11-2-13) at about 4:00 PM Eastern Daylight time or 9AM local time for the team. Looks like they made about 6.5 Nautical Miles today. They are doing most of their traveling in the early morning of the day it appears while the ice is colder. Wishing them a good sleep now. Glad to see all the post here. Monitoring them from the warm 71ºF here in Central Florida U.S.A

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