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 Last Degree (Day 60)

Day 60: S89° 01' 33", E157° 38' 49.44"

Duration: 9 Hr 15 Min

Daily distance: 21.7 Mi

Distance to go: 970.3 Mi

Temperature: -27 °C

Wind chill: -40 °C

Altitude: 9875 Ft

If you eavesdropped on our daily banter up here, you'd be forgiven for thinking Tarka and I aren't enjoying this expedition all that much. Our conversations at break times, when we turn our sleds so we can sit on them next to each other with our backs to the wind, usually go something like this: Tarka: "What on earth are we doing with our lives? This is ridiculous." Me: "Tell me about it. I'm retiring after this trip." Tarka: "Mate, I'd already retired from this nonsense..." Etc.

But there are occasional moments of magic. We talked briefly today of what it must have felt like for Shackleton and his men as they turned for home near here, and for Scott and his team as they headed on to the Pole. For us, the South Pole represents people, air traffic, vehicles, noise, buildings, warmth, safety; it's a huge distraction and we're keen to arrive in the dead of night, take our photos by the Pole and get away again before anyone notices us. For Scott and Shackleton it was a point in the centre of a vast expanse of nothingness. The feeling of remoteness and isolation they must have felt at this stage of their journeys must have been immense.

We're also talking about food more, and have both noticed that our senses of taste seem to have become sharper, and that we're getting enormous pleasure from all of our rations. I often close my eyes at breaks while I'm munching away, and I suspect very few people have derived quite so much pleasure from a "Cocoa Delight" Nakd Bar, a "Nutty" 9Bar, a "Belgium Chocolate" Organic Food Bar, or ten squares of Green & Blacks 85% dark chocolate, all of which featured in my 6,000 calories today. I'll take a photo of a whole day's food soon, so you can see how we're fuelling our progress.

We would also like to thank everyone who was involved in sending us a message in Intel's Christmas card which we reciveed last night on our Ultrabook. It's wonderful to have such support from around the world. Thank you all. 

We bagged another 35km today and have crossed the 89th degree of latitude, which we're pleased with, though we're both feeling as tired as you'd probably expect us to now we've been out here for two months (with two days off) and have covered about 32 back-to-back marathons. It was -40 degrees Centigrade windchill all day today and we were outside for 12 hours, and I often feel it's almost miraculous that we can get up again every morning and do the same thing. Apologies for another scenery shot, but the sun was creating an amazing effect on the horizon today, which I'm hoping you can see after we've compressed this photo to send it back via the phone.


# Martin Seidl, December 24th 2013

Dear Ben, dear Tarka!
It is really astonishing, what you do, it is encouraging and impressive.
I reckon the question: Why are we doing this? is common, when men go to their limits like you do. I have deep respect for what you are achieving.
I wish you a Merry Christmas here from my warm room and all the best for the next weeks.
Keep on eating up the miles and stay save!
Cordially Martin

# Mike, December 25th 2013

Remember to pose at least once in front of the SA webcam to “prove” that you have arrived. Or at least leave a sign or signal of sorts in case you chased away by the pole patrol.

# wonderwoman, December 24th 2013

Dear Ben,
Thank you again for a wonderful post. The question is exactly the same my teenage boys asked, and the same that interests us all: Why would anyone do anything like this? There are many reasons we could and can think of, but does any of them really explain why you are able to get up every morning and do the same thing again. Beyond the rational reasons there seems to be a deeper meanig and some magic-like powers.
We send you love from Finland and pray for you.

# Mal Owen, December 24th 2013

Lovely shot , no need for apologies! Looks like the star over Bethlehem and would make a fitting Christmas card. May I offer my warmest Christmas Wishes to you both now ... could kick myself for not adding to your Intel card, I’m afraid I procrastinated and thus forgot. Can quite understand the need to be at the Pole with no other humans… Would be a shock to the system after so many days alone with your thoughts and it surely should be a very personal experience. SEASON’S GREETINGS.

# Rosie Vidovix Unsworth, December 24th 2013

Hey Ben and Tarka
Your blog of today reminds me of something Muhammad Ali once said ‘I hated every minute of training, but I said, Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’
I know you don’t ‘hate’ it but you get the gist…

# Caro, December 24th 2013

Merry Christmas, you two. So excited about that last degree!

# Janet Stanley, December 24th 2013

Remember Cherry Garrard’s words ‘Stick it, stick it’ I know you have your mantra…what ever works! Please stay safe :)

# Richard Pierce, December 24th 2013

Dear Ben, dear Tarka,

Amazing, just amazing: the photo, the blog post, the achievement, the endurance. And your attitude and wishes for the Pole. I hope it does turn out the way you wish for, because it encapsulates what you’re trying to achieve, because it’s all about doing it for the sake of all histories, all about completing 1800 miles, not about receiving acclaim halfway through your epic journey.

First, to quote what everyone quotes from Cherry’s Worst Journey: ‘Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised. It is the only form of adventure in which you put on your clothes at Michaelmas and keep them on until Christmas, and, save for a layer of the natural grease of the body, find them as clean as though they were new. It is more lonely than London.’

Now, my favourite quote, and the one which applies to you, and to all of us who try to break boundaries, despite our own fears:

“Exploration is the physical expression of the Intellectual Passion. And I tell you, if you have the desire for knowledge and the power to give it physical expression, go out and explore. If you are a brave man you will do nothing: if you are fearful you may do much, for none but cowards have need to prove their bravery. Some will tell you that you are mad, and nearly all will say, ‘What is the use?’ For we are a nation of shopkeepers, and no shopkeeper will look at research which does not promise him a financial return within a year. And so you will sledge nearly alone, but those with ewhom you sledge will not be shopkeepers; that is worth a good deal.”

With this, I send you my very best wishes for Christmas, for a peaceful, healthy, successful and safe New Year, delivered with admiration from a coward in a nation of shopkeepers and bankers to two cowards who have indeed proven their bravery already.

God Speed.


# Rosie, December 24th 2013

So well said Richard!

# Richard Pierce, December 24th 2013

Thank you, Rosie. R

# Mal Owen, December 24th 2013

You sure have a way with words !

# Richard Pierce, December 24th 2013

It’s the only thing I’m any good at. Thank you. :-) R

# Carlos, December 24th 2013

Guys, I see that due to Antarctic season and the planning of your expedition, You have to spend Christmas time very close to the South Pole.
I know It’s always hard to spend these days away from the loved ones. Please read this post, as a little bit of warm, and a lot of admiration.

I can see the professionalism and previous preparation when You talk about reaching the Pole with the less human distractions possible.
Otherwise, if you celebrate too much in the midpoint of the expedition, It’s very easy to loose focus or maybe become a PoleDancer.

My best wishes from Mallorca for you two.

# torsten richter, December 24th 2013

Hi guys!

You are doing a great trip and Scott would certainly proud of you. I wish you good luck and Merry Christmas and hold on!
Greetings from Germany

# Steve Jones, December 24th 2013

Ben and Tarka
Best wishes for Christmas, I hope you have a few minutes to celebrate and enjoy the day. I’m delighted to see how good your progress is, you are doing really big miles and from what you have said in the blog, I don’t think the outward journey could have gone any better.

A bit of context for other readers - your recent days average distance if transferred to the more travelled route from Hercules Inlet on the Ronne Ice Shelf to the South Pole would have got you to the Pole on 33 days, which would be the second fastest time ever on that route. Having maintained your progress and hours for 60 days this is nothing short of very impressive.

Best wishes from England, we’ll be raising a glass and thinking of you and your loved ones tomorrow.

# Ian Webb, December 24th 2013

Ben and Tarka

I have watched your progress with a fascination bordering on envy, not just over the past 60 days, but in the case of Ben over many years of planning. As I sit on my Aeron chair on the last day in the office for this year, I can only imagine (with some insight thanks to your blogs) what you are going through. I wish you both best wishes for Christmas day and the rest of your journey. I look forward to catching up on your blogs in a few days time.


# George Chapman, December 24th 2013

Great job guys. Wishing the both of you and the Support Team a Merry Christmas. Will celebrate with you in a few days at the Pole. Take care and stay warm.

# Perran, December 24th 2013

What wonderful progress and descriptions. I can imagine that the Pole will be a rude shock and something you will want to get away from quickly.
I too missed the Christmas Card deadline but send my very best wishers to you both.
I’m also so glad your technology is working well for you Ben.

# CaninesCashews, December 24th 2013

Hi guys,

Wow guys another amazing photo and another amazing mileage!

It is astonishing that you are just days from the pole and yet for you this represents ‘just’ half of your epic adventure.  I’m not sure many would have the mental capacity to acknowledge that getting to the 90 is only part of the first part of the journey you have chosen to make.

I remember the despair of your blog on the way back from Resolute Bay in March 2011 after being pinned down by the weather.

Then last year when you decided to postpone Scott 2012, I remember tweeting you the Tolstoy quote, “The strongest of all warriors are these two – Time and Patience”. Well Ben you have shown remarkable patience and time is on your side now.

I find it amusing that generally as a nation we are just not the bragging kind. We don’t push to the front and we rarely turn the spotlight on ourselves or our achievements. We are British.

However sometimes I think that we are all meant to have OUR time, the time when we do something special. Something that makes others think it is OK to do that – I can do that, I can shine.
No matter what your faith is, Marianne Williamson summed this up beautifully in one of my favourite quotes, she said,
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I know it is not your primary concern, but do not, do not underestimate the power and effect of this amazing adventure on others; at home, at work, in schools, at universities all over the world.

I wish you both a happy, blessed, peaceful and healthy Christmas, may the wind be at your back and the pole in your sights.

Stay safe,

# Richard Pierce, December 24th 2013

Dear Cananies,

Thanks for that Marianne Williamson quote. I had never heard it before, and you’ve sghone a light into my life with it.

Happy Christmas.


# ale, December 24th 2013

Hi Ben and Tarka,

maybe you know but it I just got that the South Pole will be a crowdy place in the next days.

If you’re lucky you can meet a nice GIRL riding a sort of bike!!!! If you see something strange moving around it is NOT an allucination!  She’s young, she’s well fit and she’s even British!!!

Hey don’t fall in love out there!!! This is for tarka since I got that Ben is already engaged.

here is the twitter from her:

Are you (teams heading for the Pole) all aware of each other?
Are you sure you’re depots are not going to be hunted from others? :-)
There are other chyclist moving to the Pole, I got notice of other 2! What a crowdy place!!!!

Enjoy your “lonely"adventure!!!


# Colin Buckley, December 24th 2013

Ben, Tarka, keep it up, great stuff guys. merry Christmas and happy new year.

# AlisonP, December 24th 2013

Another great mileage day, and you are almost there!  What an incredible accomplishment of body, mind, and spirit!  Ben and Tarka, thank you for all of the gifts that you have given to us your readers - inspiration, your words (both of you!), the amazing pictures, and taking us along with you on your journey.  I hope that you get your wishes for your time at the pole, and also that you two find a little way to celebrate your amazing accomplishment.  Merry christmas lads!

# Minna R Rovaniemi, Finland, December 24th 2013

Merry Christmas Ben and Tarka! I’m sure lifes little, simple things can find a whole new meaning on your adventure. Think about how many rough days you have already beaten and your goal is getting closer and closer! Look at the sky tonight, you never know if Santa is flying your way :)

# Laura, December 24th 2013

The pictures are beautiful! Carry on with this beautiful and full-of-charge experience! An enormous hug and a wish of a merry Christmas from Italy!! :D

# Enrico, December 24th 2013

Merry Christmas Tarka and Ben!

# Intrepid, December 24th 2013

Dear Ben and Tarka,

Merry Christmas!

Fantastic reflection of the sun on the snow. Creates a warm feeling that can even defrost, defog, unwind / wind down whenever you could use the magic of a good memory. May you always be guided by such a light.

For Tarka: ‘timestacking’ images of the setting sun in a single image.

For Ben:

Blessings, Good Cheer, and Godspeed!

# Nora Wolfe, December 24th 2013

Merry Christmas from Grants Pass, Oregon. Thank you for including us in your epic journey.

# Martin Hartley, December 24th 2013

Truly inspirational speed guys. I shall be raising a glass to you tonight and raising a bacon sandwich to you in the morning. God speed. X

# Willie, December 24th 2013

Ben and Tarka, you guys are doing a brilliant job, great mileage again today, great writing again Ben.  The way you plan to execute the pole is inspired, leave nothing but footprints (ski tracks) take nothing but photo’s, the acclaim will come.  Merry Christmas to you both.  Be safe, be strong, Hoofing, Willie and family

# Henry warren, December 24th 2013

Happy Christmas guys. Hugely admire what you’re doing.
Benny there’s a beer waiting for you in shoreditch when you return.


# Andrea, December 24th 2013

Exactly, the projection of the sun onto the horizonT’s empty ice. As the sun is also in isolation there. For the highest human life, this trip is not ridiculous , nether from the angle of the needed means that you are using elegantly . 

# torsten richter, December 24th 2013

Addendum: Please do not fall like Lashly on 12.24.1911 in a crevasse. Still 3-4 days and the first stage is done! Hang in there and have a nice Christmas Eve.
Best wishes from Torsten

# Offroading Home, December 24th 2013

All of us at Offroading Home send a warm Merry Christmas to the Antarctic travelers and to all those whose lives they have bettered and emboldened over the past two months.

A special Christmas “gift” has been added to the “unofficial Scott Expedition Google Earth Resource Map” for the holiday season; available free at:

# Ann L., December 24th 2013

At this time of year you might want to be careful showing up at the pole in the dead of night with a sled in tow lest you be mistaken for a certain Mr. Claus, especially with your rosy cheeks and the twinkle in your eyes. Then again your bellies, or rather lack thereof, should the matter straight.  Since Santa is prohibited from bringing you the usual goodies this year, I hope he will at least bring you fine weather, strong legs, and good cheer.  Wishing you a very merry Christmas!

# Leigh Phillips, December 24th 2013

Go Boys!

# Christian C, December 24th 2013

Ben & Tarka,

Happy Christmas! Wondering which one of you has secreted a noble plum pudding in a spare sock…

Amazing progress. Keep at it!



# Dave, December 25th 2013

Hello Ben an Tarka. When you ask what you are doing with your lives the answer is easy. While we spend our lives watching movies and television in between naps on the couch, you are pushing the limits on physical endurance while inspiring people around the world. You are making memories and breaking records. You are living the dream and turning new pages in human accomplishment. Way to go guys. Thanks for every step you take on this journey, and thanks for bringing us with you.

Merry Christmas from Michigan!


# Mal Owen, December 25th 2013

Merry Christmas everyone !

# Sean Chapple, December 25th 2013

Bravo Zulu. History in the making. I hope you packed sone goodies to celebrate today :-)

# Sarah Fenwick, Expedition Psychologist, December 26th 2013

love the description of mindful eating

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