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.

Uphill Again… (Day 48)

Day 48: S85° 41' 34.5", E159° 42' 56.88"

Duration: 9 Hr 15 Min

Daily distance: 20.1 Mi

Distance to go: 1202 Mi

Temperature: -26 °C

Wind chill: -39 °C

Altitude: 8428 Ft

Clearly when I said yesterday that the climbing was all behind us, I had no idea what I was talking about. I thought today would be flat(ish) but at times it felt like we were dragging our sleds through a deep-frozen version of the Yorkshire Dales. We've come up another 150 or so metres since this morning, but it feels like we've climbed a lot more and it's been another very long, very hard day, clipping into my ski bindings at 8am and skiing until I was swaying, weary in my tracks, finally unclipping them again at 8pm. It's been a cold headwind too, and I skied wearing my biggest mittens, full mask and goggles, with my face and beard becoming completely encrusted with ice as the day went on.

We wanted to cover 33km (20.5 miles) today and we've camped 600m short of that, but we're happy enough. Strangely, even though I still finished the day completely shattered, my spirit and morale were far more chipper today, and I spent much less time gazing into the abyss of self-pity, consoling myself with the fact that we can't keep going uphill like this forever.

We were sent several questions yesterday but it's nearly 10pm here so I only have time for a few quick answers now:

Q) Richard Pierce - "I raised my eyebrows slightly at your decision to leave behind your crevasse rescue gear - there will be crevasses on the plateau, too, wont there? Though Im sure you've thought this through more than I have in my freezing office back here in Blighty." None of the five teams in history that have passed this way (Shackleton, Scott, Swan, Worsley, Langridge) reported any crevasses at all on the plateau, and Dr. Charles Swithinbank gave us the impression we were unlikely to see any. If we do, they're likely to be ancient, massive and filled-in (like they were yesterday) so of practically no danger to us. Contrast that with the 110 miles or so of Beardmore, where we must have stepped over thousands of 'em. We deemed the risk from our last depot onwards to be negligible, and we still have gear (trace - the rope that connects us to our harnesses, three carabiners each, harnesses, etc.) that could be pressed into service in an emergency. 

Q) Nicole Scott - "<3 that you quoted gangstarr you should stop and make some snow angels! Also with the constant cold weather how is the battery life on your Ultrabook holding up?" Ultrabook is doing amazingly - we warm it up in a sleeping bag for a few minutes but only charge the battery once a week and it's going strong. The keyboard has a few crumbs in it, which I may end up hoovering out if I get hungry enough.

Q) Nick Webb - "How many hours do you sleep a night? What time do you usually set off in the morning?" Not enough sleep at the moment! We seem to be averaging between six and seven hours. The alarm goes off at 6am, we normally leave the tent around 7.30 and are skiing by between 7.45 and 8. We're working on UTC, so the same time zone as the UK at the moment.

Q) Harlan - "When you descend the Beardmore Glacier, will the sleds go in front?" Good question! We've been thinking about this a lot, and have decided -on the blue ice descents at least- to put one sled inside the other (as they'll be pretty empty on our return) and to have one person at the front, and another clipped to the back, steering it as we go.


# CaninesCashews, December 12th 2013

Hi guys,

What a great ‘comeback’ after your doldrums yesterday.
Great mileage and I see its getting colder now so more face gear.

Interesting Q&A, I had been wondering about the light sleds on the blue ice - so that answers that!

Glad to hear you are a bit more chipper.

A joke (of sorts), Ellen DeGeneres said “My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the hell she is.”

Stay safe guys and keep knocking over those miles.

# James, December 12th 2013

Hi guys, you are going well. Very much enjoying following your progress.

Keep it up

# Ian Ransom, December 12th 2013

I have been following you since day 1 and have been inspired by your adventure. I did a ten mile walk recently to remind myself just what a tremendous feat you are undertaking. I live in Selborne, Hampshire close to the Oates family museum and will be revisiting it again this week.  It really puts your undertaking into perspective when I looked back at the Pontin photographs and examine some of the artefacts from that earlier attempt.  I would like to know how often the two of you find your mind turning to the early explorers, I can’t read one of your reports without having Scott constantly in mind. You both embody all that is good about the human sense of adventure.

# Rosie Vidovix Unsworth, December 12th 2013

Ben and Tarka, you are exceptional people… It is just wonderful to see you guys making history!

# Torsten Richter, December 12th 2013

Hi guys,

how many miles is it yet to the pole? Are their thoughts even when Scott and his brave men? I hope I can at some point make this trip, because exactly this trip I want to go too. I wish you good luck and strength for your journey.

# Rod , December 12th 2013


You and your mate are blooming amazing.

We are all giving you a big cheer each and every day and will be sure to raise a glass of champagne to you and your continued efforts from Franschhoek on Christmas Day!


# Jerry, December 12th 2013

Amazing progress especially given the increasing challenges of terrain, cold, and exhaustion. How is the increasing altitude affecting you?

# Willie, December 12th 2013

There you go, it didn’t all go the way you wanted today, uphill (again), lower temperatures and a headwind, but a different perspective because your frame of mind was in a better place.  Well done, 20 miles under the belt, hard won, but doesn’t it feel sweeter?  Remember uphill with heavy sleds on the way out, downhill with light sleds on the way back.  Hoofing, stay safe, stay strong, Willie

# Rosie Vidovix Unsworth, December 12th 2013

You must have passed the 1/3 mark by now. I’ll drink some champagne on your behalf tonight! Cheers…

# Kristoffer, December 12th 2013

Ben, I hate to break it to you, but Scott’s men did encounter crevasses as far south as beyond 86° S.  Lashly fell into one (depth 50’, width 8’) on 25 December, 1911, while the team was approaching 85° 50’ S.  So it appears Swithinbank is mistaken, and the possibility of running into crevasses remains.

# Jack, December 12th 2013

I thought you didn’t pay much attention to Apsley or other historic polar diaries, now you are quoting them.

# Kristoffer, December 12th 2013

You are mistaken Jack.  I’ve said I treat Cherry-Garrard’s book and Scott’s diary with caution.  I saw no reason to do so with this section of Scott’s diary.

# Bug, December 16th 2013

Kristoffer, why are you so non-stop contrary?

# Kristoffer, December 16th 2013

Because I’m not?  Because I’ve been happy to answer schoolchildren’s questions?

# wonderwoman, December 12th 2013

My teenage sons, following your trip with me, asked: Why would anyone do anything like this? We had a very good conversation. Here are some of the reasons we could think of:
- If no-one ever tried to do the impossible things, the human race would be still living in caves
- Having it easy does not fulfill the meaning of being alive
- Going to the extreme makes you see so deep in to yourself, that you find all the essential questions of life merge: knowing yourself, knowing (human) nature, knowing God (or what ever you believe in) all become one
- If a trip like that is not worth making, then what is?

Million thanks to you guys, you are giving us all so much inspiration. We send you love from Finland and pray for you.

# Brendan Smith, December 12th 2013

Love following your progress (on the Blog, Facebook, and YouTube)!  You gents are amazing, stay safe!

# Will, December 12th 2013

These are crucial times as I’m sure you realise,they certainly were for the few who have trod the path before you. Altitude, accumulative tiredness, repetition and the loneliness all must be playing their part.  Stay strong and know we are thinking of you,wishing you well and proud of your every step.
To strive,  to seek,  to find, and not to yield.

# Adrien TALBOT, December 12th 2013

Hi, Thanks for your reports both intimate and technical. It reminds me the joy and the mood variations under my 2 month traverse of the swedish mountains in winter. Food, happy, ski, sad, food, happy, ski, tired, food, sleep, toilet, happy, sleep, food…
About going with the sled downhill I was taugh the hard way that the best way was to sit on the pulka ; braking with the ski as a beginner on a slope and or with the shovel/ice axe. Really fun, stable and good control of speed and direction. Easy to switch from downhill to flat to downhill again. One in front and one back always ended up the pulka aside or the head in the snow…

Hopes it can help.
Sleep well, eat well, keep seeing the beauty in every snow flake!

Adrien (Stockholm)

# Richard Pierce, December 12th 2013

Sorry to be so late to the party; have been in London all day today working with no real access to the net. Quite appropriately, though, one of my dear friends today gave me as a Christmas present a rare copy of Tryggve Gran’s The Norwegian With Scott.

Thanks for answering my question re crevasses, although I do note, like Kristoffer, that Bowers’ and Lashly’s diaries refer to crevasses and many falls, the worst of which was Lashly’s on Christmas Day 1911 (his birthday). I am reassured, though, by your team’s initial response that some crevasse gear is still on your sledges. Just take good care of yourselves!

Over 20 miles is brilliant, especially after the initial altitude depression of yesterday. Even more impressed after having seen the short video of you in the Weight post.

Keep going.



# Intrepid, December 13th 2013

Got to wondering about what you are wondering about. Do you think about food at all and if so, what would be the first thing you want to sink your teeth into?

I can’t believe you guys consider such extreme weather a tidbit cold. The icicle and bits of vertical snow on your mask creates a very eerie, primal look. If you met Bigfoot on the way, it would take one look and head the other way, or feel right at home. Hard to say…

It’s kind of interesting hearing everyone chatter and chime in on your route. It’s true technology enables seeing from the vantage of above,as well as looking ahead at what you may not be able to see yet. Are you actually using any high-tech (or getting information relayed to you) in the morning, evening, or en route to determine your route, or are you guys staying low-tech? I’m kind of rooting for low-tech, doing it old school, finding your way from what you read about the land through your own senses. But it’s hard to ignore the promises technology brings with it.

Your posts keep me looking forward to hearing more.  The anticipation is as good as any great read. Thanks for taking the time to write!


# Janet Stanley, December 13th 2013

Great picture! :)

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