Polar slede on sastrugi ice and snow Antarctica

Day 47 Flirting with Sastrugi

Happy new year again everyone! Hope that not too hungover and enjoyed everything last night! 2023 will be fantastic!

Long Lie in bed

To get the new year off to a start, I woke up and could immediately tell it was pretty cloudy outside: the tent is always much colder. When making breakfast and popping my head out to look south I could see that there was pretty dense cloud in that direction, with whiteout conditions. As I had been thinking about a rest day, I thought… yes! Now’s my chance! Though as the forecast had not mentioned anything and just showed sun, I figured that I’d give it a chance and maybe have a shorter day.

And that’s pretty much what happened! I was able to sleep for another couple of hours and when I woke up the conditions were perfect!

Monster Monstrigi !

The extra rest was definitely nice to have: the last few days really have been quite draining and intense with the sticky snow, climbing and sastrugi. My body was happy with me for sure! Even my neck seemed grateful! Had I taken the whole day to rest I would have found it difficult to forgive myself as well as the conditions were so good. The snow was a lot better; the climbing much more gradual. Even the sastrugi were slightly less monstrous… aside from towards the end of the day when I came to a short, sharp dune-like hill that is literally covered with mega monstrugi!! No idea how I found a place to camp amidst it all!

Good distance covered

So, 21.7km covered and am pretty pleased with that – had I done the full day that would have extended to around 25-26km, so getting back up to speed. Hopefully a good sign. Hopefully the conditions will continue to be good. Hopefully!!!

Ear worm of the day… eerrmmm you know, my memory is going crazy and I can’t think if what was in my head earlier! Just like it’s difficult to work out what expedition day I am on as it all blurs! I think it was The Kids Aren’t Alright… again, for the umpteenth time!

Photo – Sledmund posing with a wannabe monstrugi! You can see the sastrugi complex behind… not sure if you can see all the gaps between them and the holes you can fall into. Obviously on a clear day that’s easy to avoid, but… in a whiteout… just luck as to where you hit!

Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ben-weber1

Ben Weber Antarctic expedition New Years day

Day 46 Happy new year!!!

Time really flies

Wow, time really does fly!! I had hoped that after finally arriving in Antarctica a week late because of the conditions that I’d be able to make it to the Pole for New Year’s Day. It would have been so cool!

23km Day

But ah well, it wasn’t to be, and there is still a fair amount of work to do, so celebrations here are a little muted! Just more skiing… uphill… and over lots of sastrugi! For another 23km… so tiring! But still, it is definitely a new year to remember so I can’t complain!

Missing family and friends.

As with Christmas, really do miss being with my family and seeing friends. I hope that you all have an amazing evening and enjoy all the festivities, and I wish you all the very best for the year ahead. Look forward to celebrating with you once am back!!

Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ben-weber1

Visit Ben’s blog site to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp. https://polarweber.com/

Ben Weber reflected in visor on Antarctic plateau

Day 45  A day of Reflections

Thoughts about 500 miles: Am truly delighted to get so far! After the first week with my neck and shoulder, it was doubtful that I’d be able to continue, so to be able to manage this… I am certainly very happy. More importantly, I can quite happily sing Walk 500 Miles (just replacing “walk” with “ski”!) as I travel. Though I don’t think I’ll walk 500 more! Just 200… to the Pole!

Thought re New Year: with the delays leaving Punta Arenas I had hoped that I’d be able to reach the Pole by New Year, which would have been an amazing way to celebrate. As it is, with a persistent injury that has affected me from around day five… I still have a good few more days to go! But still, this is a truly unforgettable and amazing way to spend the new year, and am so happy to be here, following in the footsteps of so many legends. I certainly miss my friends and family and look forward to reaching the Pole, getting back and celebrating everything with them then!

45 Another tiring day

Oceans of sastrugi

Well, at least the snow has continued to improve! Just half skins today! But as for the rest… continued climbing which just never seems to end; sastrugi seeming to get worse – no longer sastrugi patches or fields, but an ocean. The uneven terrain, the constant ups and downs going over them; and then another and another. Again, never ending. Needing to keep looking down because of the terrain; aggravating the pain in my neck.

Another 25km down

Another 25km down though, so a little better than yesterday and a decent distance. If you had asked me at the start of the day if I could have done this, then yes, I would have taken it! Almost half way through this degree at least; and apparently the conditions really do improve shortly after the 88th parallel. Fingers crossed!

A New Year and planning for the Pole

Can’t believe it’s almost New Year though. Incredible how time flies! Still hoping for an 8th or 9th arrival at the Pole though despite the slower progress. While confidence was definitely dented by the truncated day in the soft snow, I still think I’ll be able to pick up the pace again once I get past this climbing and sastrugi. Am now at 2,400m so a little lower than the plateau as well… getting there!

Sorry for the short post today; just pretty tired after going through these conditions. No real ear worms in my head either, just trying to keep going!

Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ben-weber1

Visit Ben’s blog site to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp. https://polarweber.com/

Polar explorer sled by camp site Antarctica

Day 44 A little better today… “ I would walk/ski 500 miles ….”

But still very tiring. Another 23km done bringing me a quarter of the way through this degree and indeed, I am now singing I Would Walk/Ski 500 Miles!!!

The endless climb

The constant climbing continued throughout the day. It just seem endless! And plenty of sastrugi you make life entertaining as going up these climbs! So much fun! Apparently it’ll go like this for a good few more days… my body aches just thinking about it! At least the snow was a little better and less soft and sticky. Hopefully it will continue to improve!

Full and half skins

I decided to switch back to my skis with the full skins on (the skins are screwed in as in the temperatures here, the glue isn’t so good and they’d come off) half way through the day. While the snow was definitely better than yesterday, with the climbing and sastrugi I still felt myself slipping back a lot with the half skins. I know that technically I am not the best skier, so am glad that I brought two pairs of skis so I can quickly change between them when need the different skins, rather than faffing about taking the skins off and trying to get different ones on. Extra weight of course but it has helped. I am sure I’ll be back in the half skins soon.

Passing NZ and Norwegian Camp site and snow Christmas Tree

One of the highlights of the day was passing where another expedition team (I think the Ousland team of six New Zealanders and Norwegians who started their journey from the Messner starting point; a little closer to the Pole than the Hercules Inlet start) had their Christmas camp! They had made a snow Christmas tree and dug a nice big sheltered outdoor dining area! Must have been a fun Christmas for them on the ice!

Or was it Santa’s secret South Pole layer..?! Hahah!

It reminded me of the Greenland expedition when we cut out a team dining area in the snow on a couple of occasions when it was really good weather. Great for the team and great to outside of the tent for a change!

Jokes keep cheering me up!

Thanks as always for your jokes and support! The jokes on Facebook always make me laugh – loved the one about Boost for the economy, Chris! Just wanted to say to JoJo as well that I hope you get better very soon!!!

Ear Worm of the day

Ear worms of the day: yup, walk 500 miles! And also music from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (for anyone who has seen it, the choral music when Tuco is at the cemetery running to find where he thinks all the money is buried!).

Right, am going to try get some sleep. Night night! Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ben-weber1

Ben Weber relaxing in tent in Antarctica

Day 43 Frustration!

Promising start

It looked such a lovely day as got out of the sleeping bag and got ready to go. Sun, just a little cloud, a bit of a breeze but not too much. A bit colder as well, around -22C or so, but fine.

The problems became immediately apparent as start to ski: Soft snow. The messy ice that I had been skiing through yesterday was definitely not good and quickly turned into a large sastrugi field. And then… the dunes.

Bumpy road ahead

If you look at the map showing my progress and zoom in, you will see it looks pretty bumpy where I am at the moment. These are effectively large dunes that have been formed by the strong katabatic winds that flow down from the plateau. There are dips between them that are not welcome: what goes down… has to climb back up the other side. And while the climbs are not as steep as earlier ones, they are still tough. Together with the grooves, ruts, ups and downs of the sastrugi, the mixed soft and compact snow, just making it all so much harder.

My obstinate sled

Sledmund was particularly obstinate today and did not want to move through it all, and was subject to a few choice curses from me. It was all made worse when on the compact snow and couldn’t get any grip to pull the sled out of the soft stuff… jeez! So so tiring.

Called it a day at 7hours

I decided to stop after just 7 hours: I felt that I was spending a lot of energy going nowhere (just 16km). Yesterday in the whiteout was better – I never imagined saying that when this day started! The snow should (fingers crossed!!) be much better tomorrow as it starts to compact. From the route profile it looks like the climbing should be more gentle- indeed, even looking ahead now and it seems much flatter. I just wasn’t getting anywhere.

Tomorrows the day – 500 miles

Frustrating. My body feels fine in general and I don’t feel fatigued. It was just… exhausting. Not great for the confidence but should still be able to make the Pole for the 9th. Hopefully. At least I am now in the 87th degree… completed 494 miles (422.78 nautical miles). So yes, tomorrow I should legitimately be able to sing, “I would (ski!) 500 miles”!!

Only three more degrees… 177 more nautical miles to go. End in sight?? Long way to go still!!

Position: S87 02.7818 / W082 34.3523

Ear worm if day… nothing really; I was too busy cursing Sledmund

Photo: I need a haircut!

Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ben-weber1

Visit Ben’s blog site to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp. https://polarweber.com/

kitchen in polar explorer tent snow and ice Antarctica

Day 42 Nothing like a good ol’ whiteout to slow things down…

I hate whiteouts!

After what must have been almost two and a half weeks of gorgeous conditions, I think I was starting to forget how much I hate whiteouts. I guess after so long, one was overdue and I think I have been very lucky with the weather really… but still. I don’t like whiteouts. At all.

Okay, they’re challenging… trying to navigate through them… and that surreal feeling of going through limbo. But no, they’re not fun!

Top three toughest day

I would say that while the first hour of today was good—it was cloudy but good visibility—after the clouds all closed in, the day transformed to become one of the top three toughest days until now. The climbing became more pronounced as the gradient increased. With the increased gradient the sastrugi became more frequent… well it felt like they did as it seemed like I was hitting every sastrugi possible in the whiteness! It was snowing. Lightly at least, but still snowing. There was no wind, so I couldn’t navigate using that; no shadows so that wasn’t a navigation option either. It’s hard to keep looking at the watch to see the heading so… I had to get the compass mount out once more and use that again; much to my neck’s disappointment! Oh and yea, my goggles kept on fogging and for the first time in over 40 days of skiing, I started to get chaffing problems, just to add to the general pain!

Difficult day

I was tempted to call it a day half way through, like I did the last whiteout. But then, the sastrugi wasn’t quite so bad for me to do this. The snow was not too deep. My body still felt okay. And I have my minimum 14 nautical mile goal. Sure I could take a rest day but that would mean another a day until I get to the Pole. And despite opting to take a resupply once I get to S88, I still have only so many rations! Also, travelling through whiteouts is yes, a challenge, who knows how many whiteouts there will be – I can’t just take rest days because I don’t like it! It wasn’t dangerous for me; just… tiring. And soul destroying!

I managed 14nm!

I could have gone a little further but I took too long to give into the inevitable and put my compass mount back on. Before I did that, my ski track must have looked like that of a drunkard, straying off in random directions! Only thankful that I didn’t head north!

So on the whole, despite the utter joylessness of today, am pleased with the progress. I managed my minimum distance in horrible conditions, which bodes well for when the weather improves again. And it has already started to improve with the sun now out as I write this! Typical!

Photo: getting food ready for tonight and for the day’s travel tomorrow

Ear worm if day: nothing much an afraid, too busy trying not to fall over on the invisible sastrugi! If anything it was The Kids Aren’t Alright on repeat again!

Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ben-weber1

Ben Weber resting in tent on Antarctica expedition

Day 41 Continued good progress

32.35km day – a record distance

Not much to really say about today except that it was great! Good solid progress – I know I have done one other day with around 32km (things really do blur altogether here!!), and I think I just beat that with 32.35km, so a new personal best so far!!

Great conditions

The conditions… really couldn’t get much better. Not too cold, extremely calm, great visibility… while there is the odd sastrugi patch and area of messy ice, on the whole the terrain is pretty flat and the climb is imperceptible. I am just about at 1,900m so less than 900m below the plateau (Though it starts to level out at around 2,700m). I am sure there will be much harder days ahead – the continent is lulling me into a false sense of security! Heheh! But… I have to enjoy it while it lasts and get in the miles while I can, to compensate for the days ahead when it won’t be so straightforward and the going will be much slower.

Food and body weight

I am eating around 6,300kcal a day though I think am a fair bit thinner than when I started; my base layers all seem a bit loose!! Difficult to say how much weight I might have lost – maybe around 10kg over the last 41 days? Maybe a little less; not sure! Sledmund has lost at least 55kg!

Earworm and Housekeeping

Ear worms of day: Thanks to my family… a good Abba medley of various songs; Waterloo especially!

Photo: pretty tired after today and last few days of churning out 29-32km… just chilling in the mess of the tent!

Detailed daily data

For anyone interested, here are the coordinates of where I have camped since starting, and estimated positions (latitude only as longitude not too important after the crevasses of the 87th degree) based on an average daily distance of 14 nautical miles and no days off… This is a conservative estimate as over the last week since leaving Thiel Corner – and even in the days before then – I have been doing between 15-17 nautical miles a day. So hopefully I will be able to arrive at the Pole before the 9th… I am being cautious though as not sure about the sastrugi and climbing ahead and as I might have mentioned in an earlier post, the snow on the plateau is meant to be harder to ski through because of the colder conditions.

Accelerating pace

Obviously progress is much better shown on the map on the website! But, you can see from the list how I took ages in the 80th degree, when the sled was at its heaviest, with the climbing at its steepest and I developed my injury. Though then you can see how have managed to gradually accelerate. Hopefully this will continue!

My ETA at the Pole is now 10th January, this assumes 12 NM progress each day.

Camp locations

1: 16 November (start): S79 57.3605 / W079 45.2434

1: 16 November (camp): S79 58.7272 / W079 55.3000

2: 17 Nov: S80 03.8512 / W080 17.7000

3: 18 Nov: S80 10.8192 / W080 33.5942

4: 19 Nov: S80 19.1669 / W080 37.5180

5: 20 Nov: S80 23.7401 / W080 25.7401

6: 21 Nov: no movement

7: 22 Nov: S80 31.0280 / W080 26.2832

8: 23 November: no movement

9: 24 Nov: S80 36.2744 / W080 12.9014

10 25 Nov: no movement

11 26 Nov: S80 42.8344 / W080 00.9190

12: 27 Nov: S80 51.8977 / W079 59.8794

13: 28 Nov: S81 02.2539 / W079 57.3339

14: 29 Nov: S81 11.3942 / W079 54.9472

15: 30 Nov: S81 21.5968 / W079 57.1149

16: 1 Dec: no movement

17: 2 Dec: S81 32.4792 / W080 02.8163

18: 3 Dec: S81 43.2655 / W080 00.8545

19: 4 Dec: S81 53.2450 / W080 22.8012

20: 5 Dec: S82 01.3987 / W080 12.2678

21: 6 Dec: S82 15.7532 / W080 19.1214

22: 7 Dec: S82 27.7007 / W080 28.2671

23: 8 Dec: S82 41.994 / W080 30.2901

24: 9 Dec: S82 57.780 / W080 25.5373

25: 10 Dec: S83 11.5089 / W080 15.5354

26: 11 Dec: S83 14.5615 / W080 17.4755

27: 12 Dec: S83 24.9548 / W080 27.8904

28: 13 Dec: S83 38.1913 / W080 31.5436

29: 14 Dec: S83 52.4660 / W080 37.0228

30: 15 Dec: S84 06.1782 / W080 27.0035

31: 16 Dec: S84 21.6411 / W080 33.2581

32: 17 Dec: S84 35.8453 / W080 47.2211

33: 18 Dec: S84 50.1908 / W080 35.0597

34: 19 Dec: S85 04.4033 / W080 45.7878

35: 20 Dec: no movement

36: 21 Dec: S85 21.0401 / W080 55.649

37: 22 Dec: S85 36.0484 / W080 46.4073

38: 23 Dec: S85 51.3874 / W081 01.3888

39: 24 Dec: S86 07.6672 / W081 13.1764

40: 25 Dec: S86 23.8690 / W081 38.7422

41: 26 Dec: S86 40.8952 / W081 43.9371

Estimated positions (south) based on 14nm/day:

42: 27 Dec: S86 54

43: 28 Dec: S87 09

44: 29 Dec: S87 23

45: 30 Dec: S87 37

46: 31 Dec: S87 51

47: 1 Jan: S88 05

48: 2 Jan: S88 19

49: 3 Jan: S88 33

50: 4 Jan: S88 47

51: 5 Jan: S89 01

52: 6 Jan: S89 15

53: 7 Jan: S89 29

54: 8 Jan: S89 43

55: 9 Jan: S89 57

56: 10 Jan: S90

Santa Claus heads south

Day 40 A Christmas cracker!

Thanks for your messages

It was lovely receiving all your Christmas messages – thank you again for your support. As I say, I am alone here but I definitely don’t feel alone with all of your help and thoughts.

Climbing continues

The day – my first white Christmas for a long time! – was pretty similar to the last few days in terms of travelling. Another 31km done and am almost half way through the 86th degree! Great conditions until the end of the day when it started to cloud over — I suppose the blue skies and sun had to end some time! The climbing has continued; I am now at 1,800m above sea level, less than 1,000m lower than the plateau. The sastrugi has generally been in patches: many parts have been incredibly smooth and flat but then suddenly you get to a mini sastrugi field near the top of a climb. Again, I have been very thankful for the good visibility, as there have been some more monstrugi in those fields!!


Navigating has become a little trickier with the sastrugi considering how they have disappeared for much of the time. Though with the sun out, I have been able to use my shadow; remembering that the sun moves 15 degrees east-to-west and back again (depending on time of day) each hour.

Wonderful Christmas

But anyway! Am going to get some sleep now. As I say, I good you all had a wonderful Christmas, and enjoyed the food, friends, family and festivities!

Ear worms of day: another suggestion my sister Sigrid- Hall of the mountain king (lived listening to that when younger (and still do!!!)) and more Meatloaf mixes!

Photos: my Christmas cracker and Santa’s South Pole helper!!!

Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ben-weber1

merry Christmas ben Weber in tent in Antarctica

Day 39 Merry Christmas!!

Happy Memories

I always think about my mother a lot around Christmas. I am the last of seven kids and she would make these most amazing Christmas dinners for us all together with friends and extended family up in our house in the Orkneys. No idea how she managed everything!! No idea how she coped with us all either! Haha!

Christmas Days

For the last few years since leaving India, I have celebrated Christmas with one of my sisters, Sigrid, and her family. It’s always a massive amount of fun putting up the Christmas trees, playing Mario Kart on the Wii, feeding the Christmas cake with brandy, and of course plenty of movies! Like my mum, Sigrid is an amazing cook. There have often been around 10 of us at her house over this period, and again I have no idea how she manages! This year almost all of the family will be going over to her place – I think on Boxing Day there will be around 15 siblings, partners, nieces and nephews! Definitely strange not being there and I miss them. Have persuaded Sigrid to have a second Christmas once I am back!!! Good incentive for me to speed up and get the distance in!!

2022… same old….same old….

Instead, here… same old, same old! More skiing, more cold, and I have just finished the advent calendar! Ah well! I managed 31km today (Christmas Eve here) and hopefully will get some more good mileage in tomorrow. The conditions are still perfect, just the odd big sastrugi patch and some climbs are steeper than others, but it’s all good. The route profile shows a steady climb getting steeper in around 20km or so. A little bit of cramp in the leg as I lie here writing this. The neck and shoulder still have a lot of improvement to do, but I have been feeling less uncomfortable as I travel, which is nice!

Merry Christmas to you all!

So anyway! I want to wish you all a very merry Christmas! I hope that you have a wonderful day wherever you are in the world, and enjoy being with your friends, family and loved ones!

All my best wishes,


Ear Worms of the day

Ear worms of day!

It’s impossible to think of Meatloaf and not start singing Bat out of Hell!! Sigrid suggested that and yup, it got into my head!! Also, because it’s Christmas… The Killers – Don’t shoot me Santa!!! Brilliant song but you need to watch the video for it as well!

Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ben-weber1

Visit Ben’s blog site to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp. https://polarweber.com/

Polar explorer tent on Antarctic ice Ben Weber

Day 38 Good and steady progress 29km day

Better off down here

Another beautiful day here; incredible how good the conditions have been over the last few days. Sun, blue skies and just a bit of a headwind but nothing much. Not too cold either at around -14C — seems positively tropical in comparison with the United States! (I really would not have liked to have been out in the weather there – crazy!!!) The sastrugi seem to be taking some time off as well; it’s just very low, minor sastrugi formations now that don’t really impact much. It gets a little worse as the ground gets a bit steeper but no, nothing even remotely close to what I encountered earlier. Long may it stay this way!!

Approaching 86th degree

I am at around 1,600m now, so climbed just 150m today; much more gradual today and that definitely makes a difference. I felt good. So yes, I managed another 29km today and am almost entering the 86th degree!! Almost 3/5 complete! I think the terrain is meant to be similar to this for the next 50-60 nautical miles as well, when it will get much steeper again. Hopefully the weather will hold out as well!

Angling eastwards

For anyone following progress on the map, you’ll see that I am edging westwards. This is because in the 87th degree there is an extensive crevasse field and I need to get to around W083-W084 to avoid that. Still have around 100 nautical miles before reach that point though I need to start angling my way over there now to make life easier. No cutting corners there for sure!!

Song of the day

Song in the head of the day! …. Meatloaf – I’d do anything for love! Gotta love meatloaf! It’s like you get two or three songs out into one!

Thanks for support and please share for Cancer Research UK

I want to thank everyone again for your support. Your comments, your jokes, song suggestions… everything! If I could ask one favour – as you know I am also trying to raise funds for Cancer Research, and thank you also for your support with this. If it could be possible for you to share what am doing with this journey with your friends, colleagues and family, that would be really amazing as well. Thank you again!!!!

Photo; Long Shadows

Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ben-weber1

Visit Ben’s blog site to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp. https://polarweber.com/

Theil Mountains Antarctica on the distant horizon

Day 37 So the climbing begins… again! Towards the Plateau

Climbing again

Yesterday I mentioned how as I continued south I could see the climb towards the plateau starting to come into view. It continued like that for the first 9km this morning… rising up like a gigantic dome, getting larger and larger. It’s impossible to tell distances here; impossible to tell height. A photo wouldn’t show anything as it’s all just… white. But the slight difference in the shading gave away the increased gradient of the climb in front. All I can say is that it looked big. And it hasn’t disappointed so far.

Full skins again

Before the climbing began, there was a slight dip in the terrain with a pretty messy sastrugi field. Some pretty monstrous sastrugi here and there, some of which I had to work a channel through, but nothing close to the earlier areas. It was good to have good visibility of course otherwise it would have been tough. That all faded away pretty quickly as the gradient increased and it became steeper. And wow, did it become steep! It reminded me of the climb out of Hercules Inlet, even though it wasn’t as long it steel, and my sled is half the weight! It was hard though. I had to switch back to my skis with full skins on as I just found myself going backwards!! There was a lot of very compact snow bordering ice, which didn’t help with the half skins either – just impossible to get any grip.

It was like that for about 5km or so, before it became a bit less steep and I was able to switch back to my half skins again. Definitely prefer skiing on them if I can as it makes a pretty big difference in terms of my pace. I still found myself slipping backwards now and again but it was fine.

1,300m climb to plateau

So, another 28km complete with 200m of climbing today! Only at around 1,500m, with the plateau at 2,800m, so plenty more work to come. Certainly pleased with the distance considering the climbing, though the first 9km did contribute to that (managed that in about 2.5hrs). Let’s see how it goes tomorrow. It is nice being up here – a final look towards the Thiel Mountains now to my northwest. Spectacular. I probably won’t see much of them anymore as I go tunnel vision when skiing and will hardly look around. They’ll just fade away into the distance and the remaining 500km or so will just be featureless and blank!

Ear Worms of the day

Ear worms of the day! Queen songs!!! It was quite funny at the start when I was remembering back to Greenland singing Bohemian Rhapsody with Silje and Joakim… then I saw the black shape of Mateusz a few kilometres behind me as I packed up the tent. Without connecting it at first all I thought was… I see a little silhouetto of a man……. And yup, that was the song in my head for the rest of the day! Oh and Killer Queen!

Photo – looking back to the Thiel Mountains

Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ben-weber1

Visit Ben’s blog site to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp. https://polarweber.com/

polar explorer Ben Weber approaches Antarctic tents

Day 36 A great meeting point!

Theil Corner

At the end of the day yesterday, Mateusz and the Australian team all arrived at Thiel Corner! As well as a Twin Otter plane with its crew. 11 of us all at the same place in the middle of nowhere! Skiing through it was almost overwhelming with so many people and tents! The pilots talked about how the sastrugi this year has been the worst they have seen for around eight years! Just to make life easier for the expeditions!

Australian Team challenges

It was nice chatting with everyone as they arrived and as I headed off in the morning. Unfortunately, Em, the leader of the Australian team has had to end her journey which is a real shame. Bad case of polar thigh – effectively frost bite in the thigh that was becoming dangerous. Must be so devastating after all the work and effort, but it sounded like that it was a wise decision for her to stop as there was an increasing risk of sepsis despite being constantly cleaned and dressed. She left on the plane back to Union Glacier. One of the other team members was also suffering from the same problem – am not sure whether they went back with Em or not.

Really hope that they recover quickly and that the rest of the team will be able to make the Pole.

Supplies on offer

The rest of the Australian team spent the day at Thiel Corner today organising their supplies for the rest of the journey. As I have decided to go ahead with a resupply at S88 degrees and I cannot say I am an unassisted expedition, even because of the medical resupply. I was so happy when they offered me a couple of days of extra rations! This will make sure that I get to S88 with no problem, and I can even afford another rest day or two if I need! They have had to abandon plans to cross the entire continent because of the conditions and issues, so had some food going spare but still, really so nice of them!

Skiing with Mateusz

It was great to see Mateusz going strong and recovering from his illness. We skied a little together in the morning before our different paces meant that once again there’s a little gap between us. I generally go a little faster but try to have shorter days so I get more time to recover, though each to their own and Mateusz has more supplies than me so has a heavier sled!

Hills ahead

After saying goodbye to everybody, it turned into a good day. I managed to ski just over 32 km and the conditions were perfect blue skies, sun, just a little bit of a breeze, good snow conditions and very little sastrugi! It was my best day to date, so I’m very pleased with progress. Tomorrow is definitely going to be harder. I can see the looming climb towards the plateau ahead of me. It’s like a dome, you can see the rising ominously ahead of you. As the ground rises, there will also be more sastrugi, and you can really feel the weight of the sled, pulling back on you as you start going uphill. Also today I was feeling refreshed after the rest of yesterday, which definitely helped!

Change of Skins

One thing I did do differently was to switch my skis so that I used the skis with half skins on. Before this, I was using my skis with full skins because of the sastrugi and the snow, just to stop me slipping back and to give me grip. While I had tried the half skins a couple of times before, there was just no traction and it was extremely hard. But today was perfect. Hopefully, with the climbing tomorrow, I will be able to continue using the half skins. Also today I took off my compass mount and didn’t use it. I have been navigating fine using the snow formations and I want to see how I get on with my neck without having to continuously look down at the compass. The good thing about my watch is that I can also put coordinates into it and compass on the watch is also great for navigating with. Fingers crossed it will make a difference.

Ear Worm

Ear worm of the day… Game of thrones theme tune! (Don’t know about you but I loved the first season of House of Dragon! Managed to binge watch it while I was waiting in Punta Arenas!) Thanks Jonathan for getting that in my head!

Photo – going through Thiel Corner

Ben Weber polar expedition in tent Antarctica

Day 35 A rest day! Time to recharge the batteries

A day to recharge

Yeah, I have been thinking about it for a while now and I think my body has needed it, but I decided to take a day to rest today. Woke up pretty tired this morning and the wind was pretty strong, so figured that now was as good a time as any. Still… I felt a bit guilty this afternoon as the weather improved. Over the last few hours there have been absolutely gorgeous conditions, and I can’t help but think about the miles I could have put in… But yeah, my body is grateful for the rest having been on the go almost nonstop for the last 17 days. The only break I have had was that day when I stopped after 6km in those draining snowy whiteout conditions.

So, some sleep, listening to an audio book, and just relaxing really. Time to reflect over the last 35 days as well!

Half Way reflections

On the whole, am happy the way things have gone. Food-wise it has been good. although I wish I brought more cookies and hot chocolate! So nice to have at end of day but of course, I have to ration myself! As I say, all of my dehydrated foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner were made by Expedition Foods, and have been great. I might have gotten too many fish and potato meals from them though. Their other meals like mushroom risotto, vegetable stir fry and Spag Bol have been amazing! Too late to make changes here though!

Good kit – Kitchen box falling apart

My neck and shoulders definitely slowed me down a lot in the first 15 days or so. I am thankful that the painkillers have been able to make things manageable. The equipment has generally been good. A few bits and pieces… the kitchen box on its last legs just isn’t sturdy enough. Hopefully it’ll last the rest of the journey though I wouldn’t bet on it! My harness… is fine though the compass mount – which I use to keep the compass held out in front of me so I don’t have to hold it with my hands – is way too fiddly. It can be a real hassle to put it on each morning, and it’s difficult to know if and when the compass is flat and accurate! It is also too low and I have to strain my neck to look down at it… which doesn’t help my injury.

Navigating by the elements

At the same time I have been able to use the wind and the sastrugi to help with navigation. Really have been pleased the way this has gone. Over the last few days I have hardly had to look at the compass or even the GPS to know that I was going the right direction, just my angle on the sastrugi which has constantly been aligned from the south south west to north north east. Obviously I do occasionally check in my breaks and made minor adjustments but it has all been good.

Daily distance targets

I have so been pleased that despite the pain I have been able to make good progress, and even speed up. I have been setting myself minimum distance targets, trying to get 16km by the lunch break so I set myself up for an afternoon to reach at least 26km. Without going for longer than ten hours (including breaks). And over the second half, while I know it’s going to be tough climbing up another 1,400m to the plateau… through coming large sastrugi fields… I will keep this same approach. Hopefully being able to increase those distances.

So if all goes well, back on the go tomorrow, and onward to the Pole!

Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ben-weber1

Visit Ben’s blog site to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp. https://polarweber.com/

Explorer sled on Antarctica ice and snow

Day 34 Half way!!!!

Can’t believe it! After another 27km, I have reached Thiel Corner – an unmanned ski way and supply depot for airplanes going to the Pole from Union Glacier to refuel, and where other expeditions also have caches left for resupply. I have just got into S85 degrees, meaning I have just past the half way mark of this journey!

Comfortable Sleeping Bag

The day was one of those days when it was hard to get out of the sleeping bag. They seem to be becoming more frequent! Great sunny weather with a bit of a stiff headwind but nothing that haven’t seen before on this journey. The snow was mixed; sometimes was able to speed over it, sometimes would sink into it. Plenty of messy ice and minor sastrugi to deal with as well, and in the last 15km out of S84 there was a gradual climb up, just making everything heavier. I need to get used to it as half way through S85 the climb up to the plateau begins, and that will just be constant for the next two and a half degrees or so!

Theil corner

Oh and was wrong about the nunatak yesterday: i was actually seeing the thiel mountains! Splendid view of them in the distance, to the south west, all day today. Definitely a nice change!


Extremely pleased, especially after how everything started with my neck at the start/Of course, there’s a long way to go and a lot of work today, but it’s so good to get this far. Onwards!!

Cottage pie for dinner tonight. Hungry!!!

Ear worm(s) today: another mix of music from The Kids Aren’t Alright to Under Pressure (always a good one!)

Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ben-weber1

Visit Ben’s blog site to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp. https://polarweber.com/