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.

Upstream (Day 28)

Day 28: S80° 52' 22.68", E168° 52' 30.96"

Duration: 8 Hr

Daily distance: 14.8 Mi

Distance to go: 1558.9 Mi

Temperature: -16 °C

Wind chill: -27 °C

Altitude: 236 Ft

A windy, windy day today, and a pretty testing (and occasionally plain grim) eight hours on the white treadmill, reeling in the ever-distant horizon. We had a headwind all day. I clocked it gusting at nearly 25mph (40km/h) when we set off this morning, and it got stronger as the day progressed, to the point where it felt like a hand pushing against my chest at times, or like we were travelling through something thicker than mere air, shoulder-barging our way upstream against some almighty current, only visibly betrayed by the thick, high-speed, ankle-deep spindrift that it carried along.

The sun stayed out all day, which was one tiny consolation, and with the spindrift at full blast it felt at times like the view from my goggles wasn't dissimilar to that out of an aeroplane window, once you've popped out above the clouds. It was quite surreal, though of course we didn't really see anything of note today, just wall-to-wall flat white horizon capped by an infinite deep-blue dome, with the occasional fine, high strand of cloud.

I daydreamed my way around Richmond Park on foot, and around the roads and lanes of the Surrey Hills, the Chilterns and much of Mallorca on a bike. Sadly, if you've seen the film Inception, you won't be surprised to hear a five-hour bike ride only fills up a minute or two of daydreams, and a week's cycling in Mallorca - spinning through Deia, climbing Puig Major, rolling past the blue lake at the top, descending Sa Calobra, climbing back up again and buying Coke and Snickers at the roadside cafe by the junction at the top - a whole week of memories lasted me about 15 minutes in the sled harness.

A few questions today....

Q) What have you and Tarka enjoyed the most so far on your expedition? A) Visiting Scott's Terra Nova hut was an experience I'll treasure forever, and I think we both secretly enjoy the feeling of getting into the tent and our sleeping bags after a "solid" day's skiing, physically spent but knowing we gave it our all.

Q) What food are you enjoying the most? A) Right now, any food is good food, though particular highlights include our freeze-dried meals (custom-made by Fuizion, lamb stew is probably the favourite at the moment). Tarka's least favourite item on the menu is the ten pills we each swallow each day, a big multivitamin/mineral, two krill oil tablets, a vitamin D tablet and six giant BCAA (branch-chain amino acid) pills.


# pfong, November 22nd 2013

Congrats on the great mileage today despite the headwinds. Keep on trucking!

# Christopher Cecil, November 22nd 2013

Perhaps only the surface of the moon is a more desolate place in the whole of human experience. I’m fascinated and amazed by your trek. Good luck!

# Korpijaakko, November 22nd 2013

Christopher’s comment reminded me of this: “What is the furthest one human being has ever been from every other living person?” Ben and Tarka are on the trail of one of the likely contenders…

Great job by Ben and Tarka! Incredible endurance day after day, and even followed with quality photos and lon blog posts.

# CaninesCashews, November 22nd 2013

Hi guys,
Another great mileage - breaking that half marathon mark for the 4th day running. Well done what a great achievement in that miserable headwind.
Here’s hoping for a change in wind direction and/or longer daydreams!

Stay safe,

# roy Foreman, November 22nd 2013

Pray you have a nice turkey dinning ready for xmass day? and not another stew

# Andrea, November 22nd 2013

Well, apart from journey for a second, you really have a talent in writing, Ben. English is not my primary language, but I really appreciate your insightful and sensitive style.
Hoping for downstream today, guys!  Cheers from Italy. Andrea

# Joe, November 22nd 2013

Great FAQ page - but are you making it a permanent fixture ? Mickeys question about the cost - would I be correct in thinking it would be in the region of £1million???? Good question from Mickey - are Tarka and Ben self funded or do they have financial sponsors?  LR an Intel only state they are supporters - what is the difference ?
They are clearly carrying considerably less weight now - it really would be great to know how much - to understand how their mileage has increased so dramatically..?? Thanks Team.

# Nansen, November 22nd 2013

I think the question re costs is a good one.

# Peter, November 22nd 2013

FYI you can do a one way guided trip to the pole for around $80-90,000 US including a training trip. A return trip would obviously carry a much greater cost.

# Joe, November 22nd 2013

Hi peter yes - you can do a short South pole trip for around that price - but the trip these guys are will be costing in excess of £800k all in I would guess…...>??

# Peter, November 22nd 2013

Hi Joe,
For $80-90k you can have a two week training trip, be flown to union glacier then flown to Hercules inlet where you can ski supported (2 or 3 caches of food/fuel dropped along the route) or unsupported from Hercules inlet to the South Pole. Around 1200km over 45-50days, a trip far in excess of what most people are physically and mentally capable of doing; So not really just a “short trip.” This price includes a guide and group equipment provided (tents, stoves sleds, food, etc). I am guessing if you wanted a custom trip it would be far in excess of that.
What these guys are attempting is a truly epic undertaking and would need a lot of logistical support.

# Janet Stanley, November 22nd 2013

Loving your updates! Your dreamy descriptions of past cycle rides are wonderful & I’m sure keep you focused! Past explorers have done the same as you know, good luck & stay safe :)

# Charles, November 22nd 2013

Keep on going the mountain and Breadmore are getting closer.
Did you guys bring something for the other to share at Xmas ? Although telling would ruin the surprise.
Loving your updates and stay safe.
Cheers !

# Carlos, November 22nd 2013

Congratulations for the mileages you are acheiving in the last days.
Didn’t know you’ve been cycling in Mallorca!
This weekend I’ll drink a latte machiato in Deia for the success of your expedition.

Best wishes

# Rafael, November 22nd 2013

Hi guys, i’m following you on this journey, and wish the best!
However I just have a question. After reading some books about Antarctic explorers, like Amundsen, Schackleton and Scott, seems to me that this last one (and the one who you are repeating the journey), has the worst leadership behavior, the most selfish and the less well prepared for the journey he was trying to accomplish. Maybe all of this came from his military life, and the way of life in that time and in that part of the world. Of course, I am not trying to eliminate his merits (he have his, after all, he deserves to be remembered for his courage), but I just wanted to know your thoughts about Scott, compared to other explorers.
Again, I wish the best for you, and greetings from Brazil!

# Mal Owen, November 22nd 2013

As in all things, you need to research Scott to get a balanced view.

# Kristoffer, November 22nd 2013

“Balanced” does not equal truth.  Sienicki and I have researched Scott.  From that research, I personally would have to agree that Scott’s leadership behavior was overall the worst, but not for the reasons Rafael lists.

# Richard Pierce, November 23rd 2013

I don’t think we’ll ever know the entire truth about what happened on Scott’s South Pole expedition, so balance is probably the best we can achieve. Anyone down there at that time in the early 20th century was certainly courageous, and, like all humankind, had their failings and merits. R

# Ephraim, November 22nd 2013

This really brings home why we now call Scott’s era the heroic age of exploration.

# DJ, November 22nd 2013

I’m not sure who calls it that. Is that what textbook writers have decided to call it in school these days, or is it an assumption? (Not a challenge, just an inquiry) Columbus and Neil Armstrong come to mind - among others prior and ongoing.  It definitely was an age where people could put theirs and their favorite names on things they saw and have it stick.

# Mal Owen, November 22nd 2013

I follow the blog avidly each and every day, my first ipad task of the day, but failed to notice the Popular Questions/ FAQ page had been posted on Nov 19th…probably because I was so keen to view Day 27 ! Just had coffee and a browse…well done team.

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