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 Route Explained (Part 1)

In 2008/09 I had the privilege of retracing Ernest Shackleton’s 920 mile pioneering route from his ‘Nimrod’ hut on Ross Island to the South Pole via the Beardmore glacier. The event was to celebrate the centenary of one of the greatest polar expeditions of the Heroic Age which opened up the heart of the Antarctic and ultimately showed Captain Scott the way to the point the world spins on – 90 degrees South.

I have kindly been invited to help describe to you just what Ben and Tarka's (and Captain Scott's) journey and route entails, the sights they will see, the difficulties they may face, the demands on their clothing, equipment and diet and the just what it will feel like to follow in the footsteps of polar giants.

Like all polar expeditions, both then and now, the hardest times are in the preparation; and I salute Ben for having raised the funds to set off on such an endeavour. I know just how long he has dreamt about this journey and the frictions he has overcome to get to this point. Five years ago, Robert Swan, this expedition’s co-patron was unfailingly kind to me in my own preparation and offered many words of advice but none was more simple and poignant than telling me that the only factors which halt polar expeditions are money and the weather. The money is raised – lets all pray for fine Antarctic summer weather, for it is that simple issue that will be at the forefront of Ben and Tarka’s minds as they play the waiting game in Punta Arenas waiting for the flight to Union glacier at the end of October.

Once on the Antarctic, they will then transfer to a DC3 or Twin Otter for the thousand mile flight to the area of the Ross Sea. The closing few hours of that flight will take them over vast crevasse fields on the Ross Ice Shelf, and within clear sight of White Island, Black Island, Mount Discovery and Mount Erebus. All of these features will have been just names on a map or passages in a diary for Ben and Tarka but what a thrill it will be to now see them from the windows of their small plane.

In contrast, the aerial view of McMurdo Base station will alarm them as four storey accommodation blocks, a bustling airport, runway and port facility for ocean-going tankers dominate the Sound. But as the plane begins to sweep over the frozen Ross Sea looking for a place to land their sharp eyes will pick up the sites of Scott’s Discovery hut at Hut Point, Shackleton’s Nimrod hut and finally their start point – Scott’s Terra Nova hut at Cape Evans. When the skis of their plane finally touch down they will then know that their journey can now start.

Text and images by Henry Worsley. 

This is the first of a six part series explaining the Ben and Tarka's route. Further posts will include 'Leaving the Ross Sea area', 'the early stages of the Ross Ice Shelf', 'Mount Hope and The Gateway','The Beardmore glacier' and 'The Polar Plateau'.


# dj, August 10th 2013

You think that this post “explains the route” do you???  Where’s the graphic of the route… or anything. Four paragraphs about “what I’ve done” and “thanks for asking me to write this” and one paragraph about what they’ll see when they land.  How is that about what the title says: “the route explained.”  I don’t know about others but I’m hanging anxiously on here for the trip and hope we can get beyond fluff to some actual meat of the trip.

I’d actually like to find somewhere a Google Earth map of the route - If you’ve somehow got some coordinates I’ll make one for you.

# dj, August 11th 2013

I’ve now spent several hours trying to find a Google Earth file for the upcoming planned route and as I re-read my previous comment I wish that you had included an edit function for writers of comments. I’d like to edit it for it comes across a bit more direct than what I had intended.

From the title obviously I was excited to be reading about details of the route - i.e. from here to here to here etc.. So, the mild treatment kind of left me disappointed. I know the author should be respected in his own right, for having done the route; but, still, this post really didn’t explain his trip either - and I’d like to know more about it too!  How did he go, how was it different than what Ben will be taking, how long did it take, did he have a GPS track, etc. etc. etc.

For some reason this venture has entrapped my interest and I yearn—as do probably many, many others who are following you—for details, details and more details.

If he’s got the time, I’d like to read a “part 2” from this author and more updates about how this planned trip is coming along. Ben and Tarka may not have the energy or time for the distraction that is blogging; but, you’ve got us hooked now and there’s got to be somebody there that could drop a few sentences about what happened that day (or week).  Please!

# Kristoffer, August 11th 2013

From the text, I get the impression that Worsley’s text was copy-pasted from a news article, and that this post is the first part of a series.  Nothing wrong with that, just make sure that the part that explains the route is covered in a future post.

# Henry Worsley, August 11th 2013

Regarding the comments above from ‘dj’ - I am posting a further 5 blogs of the route as follows:Leaving the Ross Sea area, the early stages of the Ross Ice Shelf, Mount Hope and The Gateway,The Beardmore glacier, The Polar Plateau.

# DJ, August 11th 2013

Great! Good approach. If your post had given us a heads up about future posts I wouldn’t have felt the need to ask for more; however, then ya’ll wouldn’t have gotten to find out just how “baited” our breath is to follow along on the adventure. I hope that someone has been assigned to make sure a post occurs every day while they are on the continent - each day will be a cliff-hanger of sorts for those of us only in “syndication” and not in the inner-circle.

Also, if Ben and Tarka intend on traveling with one of those Spot-like devices so we can follow positions almost real-time (like several have done on Everest climbs) - now might be a good time to start publicizing it to get the word out. I’m sure it would even make the sponsors happy.

# Kristoffer, August 11th 2013

Good to know my suspicions were correct.  I look forward to the series. 8-)

# Tina, October 4th 2013

In support of Henry, who is a truly great storyteller of Polar Exploration, I am sure we will be reading some great blogs later.

# John Brain, October 5th 2013

I assume those with a thirst for more detail of the route have read ” In Shackleton’s Footsteps” by Henry Worsley or even “In the Footsteps of Scott” by Roger Mear and Robert Scott. If not, then do so - you will not be disappointed.

# nari , October 6th 2013

I am really looking forward to this. feels like im joining in on your adventure. Good Luck guys!

# Kathy Frost, November 2nd 2013

Thank-you for your post! 

Mr. Worsley, have you written an account of your Shackleton expedition?  Let us know!

I’m a bit late to this party, but you may also consider reading Gareth Wood’s & Eric Jamieson’s “South Pole: 900 Miles on Foot “. It’s fascinating and well-written version of of The Footsteps of Scott” expedition. Especially fascinating is how group dynamics play out amongst these three explorers. 

Mr. Worsley: any relation to the wonderful Frank Worsley, Captain of the Endurance?

# HW, November 13th 2013

Yes - In Shackleton’s Footsteps’...available on Amazon.
And Frank Worsley is a very distant relation but not my great grand father.
We have the same genes !

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