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.

Three Weeks (Day 21)

Day 21: S79° 33' 13.38", E168° 33' 19.02"

Duration: 8 Hr

Daily distance: 10.7 Mi

Distance to go: 1650.3 Mi

Temperature: -17 °C

Wind chill: -27 °C

Altitude: 203 Ft

Today was our 21st day of skiing, and things are much the same down here at the bottom of the world: fairly cold, very windy, and the surface is still like quicksand mixed with treacle. We decided to up our quota of skiing time today to try to make semi-respectable progress over it, and did eight hours (seven "sessions", the first of 60 minutes and the next six of 70 minutes, with a ten-minute break in between each).

We still have 170kg or so (374lb) each in tow, so as you can probably imagine, it wasn't the easiest day out, but 17.2km was the score, which we're happy with.

Today was also my most successful day yet when it comes to what Sir Ranulph Fiennes called "mind travel", or escaping from the reality of being stuck in a sledge harness and straining away into a headwind through the medium of daydream. I suspect many of my old teachers would say that I'm uniquely gifted and qualified in this department, and they'll be glad to know that my years of staring blankly out of the window or dreaming of spaceships and distant planets while they chalked equations up on the blackboard have been put to good use.

Today was memory rather than fantasy, and I pieced together everything from walking from Oxford Circus to Knightsbridge via Mayfair to long walks in the Brecon Beacons with my dog, Molly. 

We're both pretty tired and sore, but so far we're holding up well physically. 

It's my turn cooking tonight so I'll get back to answering questions when I have more time soon. For now, I wanted to say hello and a huge thank you to Gillie Clarke for her tireless help. We wouldn't be here without you, Gillie.


# Richard Pierce, November 15th 2013

Excellent news. Well done. You’ll hopefully start flying now and do over 10 miles every day. Good luck and good rest tonight. R

# CaninesCashews, November 15th 2013

Hi guys,
‘Mind Travel’ I like that - to be honest that is what I am doing each day you are on this expedition - except I am imagining what it is like being there and you are imagining everywhere but there :-).
Looks like a good few miles knocked off - well done.
Safe travels.

# Rosie Vidovix Unsworth, November 15th 2013

This is one of the toughest challenges a human being can undertake.
I have so much respect for you.
Remember, the number of steps for this journey is not infinite. Every step you take is one step closer to achieving your goal.

# andrew, November 15th 2013

Hi Tarks, well done boys. It might seem modest progress on some days, but looking at the map now it is evident you have torn a very sizeable chunk off that Ross section. Solid progress in the bag. Excellent!

# Simon, November 15th 2013

Its a shame that some commentors (yesterday ) feel the need to believe that asking questions of a million pound plus expedition , sponsored by 2 high profile organisations is accusatory. In todays Media environment , and by their own request , this is what they signed up for. A ‘school trip’ this is not - and they offered up a transparency and real time , real life expedition - then this is what the followers and the sponsors should expect - and what Ben promised - and I am sure waht he wants to deliver. Therefore it is a great shame that so many of the real questions - from people who truly follow these sorts of expeditions and have an understanding of the weather and conditions are not having some very direct - but certainly not unreasonable -  questions. I cannot fathom why the question of depots has not been had a reply - and the very fact that is hasnt been answered will of course lead to further questions. It impacts on how we see the progress of this trip.Clearly on day 1 with no kit they managed a much higher mileage ratio - and they now seem to be making more headway daily and we would like to understand how and why . ? That is the interest of such a trip.?  Weather on ross Ice shelf can be followed on a website called Storm 247 - with hourly weather conditions avaiable on a graph - so very interesting to watch alongside. For those who are not familiar with Antarctic conditions I can only suggest that so far Ben and Tarka have had a very fortunate weather pattern .  Is it possible for Tarka to write a blog on one or two occasions so we get his persepctive on the trip.?  We wish them well.

# Scott Expedition Team, November 15th 2013

We are happy to take questions and are thrilled there’s such support for and interest in the journey. But, as per yesterday’s comment, answers will come through gradually as the journey unfolds.  For clarity a process outlining how questions will be managed moving forward will be announced next week. Keep an eye on the blog and the information will follow. This stream is now closed.

# Christopher Raab, November 15th 2013

My two young daughters in the United States are following you on your epic journey.  You are fueling their imagination for exploration and discovery.  Keep pushing, our hearts are with you!

# bruce, November 15th 2013

I had participated a 15 miles walk in a desert area in New Mexico,and was able to complete the whole thing in about 6 hours. I can not describe how painful my legs and my feet at the end of the day , even though I had prepared myself for this event.
Ben& Tarka , You guys must be very strong , I admire you. You have been doing great job. I am looking forward to read your posts everyday.
Hope the best for you during the rest of your journey and thanks for sharing this with us.

# Oak Class at Plumpton Primary School, November 15th 2013

Hi everyone,
Our class topic is based on Robert Scott and his exedition to Antarctica. We have been following your blog and have some questions we would like to ask you:

How close have you been to animals? If so which animals?
What is your favourite animal in Antarctica?
What sort of food have you been eating there?
Have any of you had or been close to frostbite?
How do you go to the toilet?
How strong does the wind feel?
How do you plan to celebrate Christmas in Antarctica?


# Scott Expedition Team, November 20th 2013

Ben and Tarka consume almost 6,000 calories daily - here’s a video with a bit more about what’s on the menu’ve seen four seals to date. No frostbite on this trip. They have good clothing and equipment to prevent it - here’s a bit more about what they’re wearing .

# Markus Seifert, November 15th 2013

Ben & Tarka,

I can not enough express my admiration and motivation for your adventure. I keep telling my six year old son who has a tendency to give up easily about what you guys must be enduring. “Think of Ben & Tarka and their journey to the south pole” has now become the major motivator in our family.

You guys truly are an inspiration.

# Reverend Bill, November 15th 2013

Do you have something like a kite to speed your progress when you eventually get a tailwind?

# Scott Expedition Team, November 20th 2013

No. Ben and Tarka are on foot. Modern day traction kites would make this a different expedition - more about speed than endurance.

# Sheila England, November 15th 2013

I haven’t been able to check in as must as I would like to,more like every other day instead of every day, but I do think of you both often. I was curled up under the blankets this morning, deciding to get up, and wondered what you were up to at the very same moment. (I’m in north east US, so I guess the time difference may be 16hrs?)
Cheers guys, you are amazing!

# Ed Coats, November 15th 2013

If you average 7 miles everyday for 110 days you will cover 770miles. A simple calculation I think everyone will agree. Especially all the school children following! So if the total distance is 1800miles how are you planning to make up the deficit to get there and back. Have you got another strategy up your sleeves particularly as the going is surely only going to get harder on the Beardmore? Is it much tougher than you expected or is it like other Arctic trips you have done Ben? Also does your permit and supplies allow you to stay longer on the continent if you need it? I am sure the feet are sore. Good luck! Keep plodding on. Slowly slowly catchy monkey - all the best Ed

# Kevin Wilson, November 15th 2013

Ed Coats, Ed, most of the individuals here probably don’t know who you are or what you achieved in such a short amount of time in Antarctica. (You have been in this situation, where it’s a big mileage and time is against you, so you know what you’re talking about.) Let me enlighten fellow followers, Ed starred in a BBC…. 5 part documentary series called “On Thin Ice” about a 480 mile race to the south pole pulling a 200 lb sledge which Ed completed in 18 days 5 hours. Hats off to you Ed .... Ben has posted about your expedition on this site at number 5 so obviously recognises your achievement.

# Ed Coats, November 15th 2013

I have wanted to do this trip for years Kev. You are a super geek on the strategy stuff aren’t you!! Polar nutritionist too. You could be quite handy for my next expedition. Thanks for your comments. Though out Team QinetiQ experience was vastly different to what these guys are experiencing, as we were on the high plateau so I have never been on the Ross Ice Shelf, hence my interest in the trip. Our efforts I can assure you were a total team push that would never have been sustainable for 1800 miles so I realise Tarka and Ben must have a different strategy here. What I can’t work out is what the strategy is here… we really were Antarctic novices when we went there five years ago and it was interesting to hear all the different ways to do things. I have loads of Q’s but I guess patience and time will tell. You are quite impatient aren’t you to get the facts. I know how you feel though. All will be revealed dear boy.

# Alex Hibbert, November 16th 2013

Heavy sledges = slow. Light sledges = fast. They won’t be at 7miles/day for the duration…

# Kristoffer, November 16th 2013

No need for patronizing, Alex.  The problem is that they are going to have to increase their average to beyond 16.3636 statute miles per day in order to get back on their 110 day schedule.  Can they do that, and if so, by how much faster?  Those are the questions.

# Kristoffer, November 16th 2013

Correction: they are going to have to consistently achieve above 16.3636 statute miles per day to order to get back on schedule.

# Alex Hibbert, November 16th 2013

I’d argue no more so than ‘A simple calculation I think everyone will agree’ and ‘Let me enlighten fellow followers’.

Yes it’s possible and not at all in a different league in terms of pace to past journeys. Finishing at 3x the daily pace you begin at is quite normal. I simply don’t get the undercurrent of suspicion/conspiracy theories/verbal diar…..... brewing on this perfectly well-managed site about a well-planned expedition.

Anyhow, I’ll make this my last as sometimes there’s no helping….

# Kristoffer, November 16th 2013

Then permit me to do both.

The math is thus: for the first 11 days/10% of their journey, they have gone an average of (1800-1721)/11=7.18182 statute miles per day.  Multiplying by your 3x gives 7.18182 x 3 = 21.54556.  That is above the necessary average by 21.54556-16.3636=5.18186.  They are currently behind their schedule by (16.3636 x 22)-(1800-1639.4)=199.399 miles.  Assuming that they never fall behind schedule from here and that they accelerate to your 3x rate, at the average of 21.54556 miles per day, it will take them 199.399/5.18186=38.4802 days to be back on schedule.  That is all well, but assumes your 3x rate as well as their not falling behind again.  For every day that they continue to fall behind schedule, the effort they will have to make to return to schedule increases, and so far they have continued to fall behind their schedule.

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