Ben Weber polar expedition visor with ice against cold blue sky

Illustrated talk 23rd February

Solo to the South Pole

Carrbridge Hotel

Thursday 23rd February 7.30-9.00

Illustrated talk by Ben Weber who recently returned to Carrbridge after succeeding in a 58-day, 700 mile solo expedition to the South Pole.

This will be Ben’s first talk on his epic solo expedition to the South Pole. Ben will share his thoughts and reflections of the challenge of a life-time.

The talk will include the preparations, logistics and practicalities of planning such an undertaking. The audience will then be taken to the starting point at Hercules Inlet where Ben is left totally alone on the Antarctic ice facing 700 miles of unrelenting conditions ahead.

Ben’s grinding daily routine revolved around hauling his fully laden 135kg sled, eating 6,000+ calories and pitching his tent for overnight protection from the elements. All the while preventing frostbite form temperatures as low as -40c.

The account shares the agony and ecstasy of a chronic agonising neck injury that nearly ends the dream, the never-ending hurdles of sastrugi ice fields, careful food rationing through to the last few meters to the South Pole.

Ben, originally from Orkney undertook the challenge to raise funds for Cancer Research UK in memory of his late mother. “This has been such an incredible and challenging expedition. I thought at the start – from day five, when my neck started to become painful-that I might have to give up, and it was so hard. The pain just wouldn’t go away, and I was getting slower and slower. While I was able to get that under control, then there were the daily challenges. The extreme cold, the whiteouts, the sastrugi and the wind; soft snow slowing things down; the climbing… going from sea level to eventually get to 2,800m.”

carrbridge hotel

The Carrbridge Hotel is hosting the evening. Doors open at 7.00, there will be an open bar and whilst there is not entrance charge, we suggest a £5 donation to Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK.

Day 59: The push to the Pole

It started when my alarm woke me up at 4am, though on thinking that I only had three more kilometres to ski than the previous day, and I wouldn’t have to worry about cooking or anything like that, I put off getting up for another hour. Still, I merged two days’ worth of snacks (all I had left) into one bag to make sure that I would have enough food to get me through the day, and gave myself a 600kcal lunch which would have been one of my evening meals (mushroom pasta) instead of a 360kcal (noodles) lunch… the pasta was so much nicer as well!

Everything was packed up and ready to go by 7.40am. I even said goodbye to all the items I had used during the expedition that had served me so well – no real equipment failures – congratulating them on their performance and thanking them for their efforts! Sanity had gone out the window a long time ago!

The first three 1hr 20m sessions of the push to the Pole went pretty well. Conditions started off cloudy and overcast though within a few hours had become perfect, with glorious blue skies and only a gentle headwind. My legs were a little tired but I felt okay. Decent pace; managing around 3kph or so, and making good distance. I didn’t feel bad. By midday I saw Matheusz’s tent in the distance.

We had talked through InReach earlier in the expedition, after I had passed him at Thiel Corner, and said that as we had started at the same time, it would be funny if we were to end up finishing at the same time, despite our separate rhythms and routines. And so it came to pass… we chatted and as Matheusz was almost ready, we decided to ski the rest of the day and finish the journey together.

A really nice way to end.

Tortuously slow progress

However, the rest of the day’s journey was far from easy. My earlier pace started to drain from my legs as more climbing started. Subtle but steady and noticeable hills. We could see some buildings of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station from 20km away but it was obvious they were higher than we were. And as we skied and got to the bottom of the climb, they disappeared and then it was just a long, slow slog, on snow that was dry, like sawdust and hard to glide through.

Sledmund becoming twice his weight yet again. Pace dropping to below 2kph. Neck starting to hurt even more and, as I had been finding for a while now, it was hard to keep looking up towards the horizon for a sustained period; the only way I could look was downwards and to the tips of my skis. Hard to look to either the left or the right. Hard to keep a good posture.

And it just went on and on. Eventually with around 12km to go, the research station buildings reappeared and we could make out how by the place looked. An extensive outpost in the middle of the white expanse. But still so far away. On and on. Even some little sastrugi. The time ticking by as 12 hours passed since leaving camp. 8pm becoming 9pm as the buildings became larger. It was made harder the way that we could not go directly to the Pole due to scientific protection zones.

We had to go to the left of the station, away from the buildings; the direction to the waypoint seemingly taking us so far away from our ultimate destination. 9pm became 10pm and it still seemed like we were no closer. The pain in my neck making everything even more draining than it should have been. The food in my snack bag nearing an end and the water in my Nalgene bottles starting to freeze; needing hot water from the thermoses to stop becoming blocks of ice.

to the bottom of the world

We could tell more than ever how we were at the bottom of the world: It was bizarre seeing how the rotation of the sun had taken it to move in front of us for the first time the entire journey, glaring into our eyes. It had always been to the north during the expedition but north was always behind us. This time, every direction was becoming north!! 11pm… 12 midnight. The sun still bright. The GPS showing just half a nautical mile… 1km to the waypoint. So close.

30 more minutes, and the entrance to the South Pole station. There was still more climbing to do, but I was effectively there.

Shortly afterwards, I entered and climbed up to the camp buildings, and saw other people. The South Pole Camp manager Ceder together with Caroline— the lady who had sped passed me the other day! — and a couple of others. Mateusz, who was unassisted in his expedition, went straight to the Pole for his photos. But I was shattered.

I needed to sit down. I needed to eat. I needed to rest my legs and my neck. The actual Pole could wait a little while longer.

Ceder took me into the camp dining tent so I could rest and there must have been 20 or more people there eating and chatting, all of whom had completed final degree expeditions. As I entered, people looked and the word spread and the entire room burst into cheers and applause. It hit me: I had done it.  A total of around 1,260km or so with all the meandering … more than 700 miles. 10 degrees of latitude. 58 days. Camping and skiing alone. Through some of the harshest distances on this planet. I had made it. I felt overwhelmed with so many people; all the noise, the friendly faces. My legs failed and I collapsed onto a chair that had been taken out for me.

A short rest and chat with some of the people there. Talking with doctors who looked at my neck and even gave me a massage. Then… both the ceremonial and the geographical poles awaited. 

I had finally done it.

Ben Weber wearing full Antarctic expedition gear and reflective face visor

Day 58 So close now!

I am so close now. It was hard to sleep last night. Despite it being -30C outside, in the tent it must have been around 20C! It wasn’t possible to stay in the sleeping bag: way too hot. I ended up lying on top of it in my base layers with all the doors open to try and ventilate and cool down. At the same time, the excitement of it all; gradually approaching the Pole, was difficult to stop thinking about!

Early start to get the miles in

So as planned, I started to get up a couple of hours earlier than normal to get ready for a long day. Up around 4.30am and eventually all packed up and ready to go just after 7am. And it was a long but good day. The conditions at the start continued to be glorious but by around three hours later, they deteriorated into semi-whiteout with fog descending; though the sun was able to get through a little to give okay visibility.  It cleared up by the time I camped though. There was a little bit more of a breeze than yesterday but nothing much. I ended up looking like the abominable snowman again, the way my breath would just freeze onto me!

I just want to get to the bottom of the world.

12 hours later and time to pitch the tent again! 30km covered and a happy me! Pretty much what I wanted. I now have just over 31km to get to the Pole! So so so close, it’s unbelievable!! I spoke with ALE again tonight and there will be two flights from the Pole to Union Glacier on the 13th: one in the morning and one in the afternoon, so it would be alright to arrive in the morning if the 13th. But I just want to get there! I want to enjoy being there, at the bottom of the world!!! Getting there tomorrow evening and..  yes it will be tiring but…wow! It will be over! I will have done it!!! The weather forecast is okay: calm with sun and cloud, so the conditions should be fine… hopefully everything will be okay!!!

Photo: The Abominable Snowman part 2: more abominable and more snowman!!

Visit Ben’s blog site to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp and donation links to Cancer Research UK at

Antarctic horizon with tent in the distance

Day 57 Perfect conditions but one more challenge awaits!

The conditions now on my part of the plateau are incredible. An absolutely beautiful day. -29C but you’d hardly be able to tell as skiing away, pulling the sled: soon after starting, I had to open up all the zips on my layers to make sure I didn’t overheat. Even during the breaks, I didn’t need to put on any extra layers as the time sitting down on Sledmund (poor Sledmund!!) helped me cool down!

More uphill climbing today

I still find it tiring; possibly more tiring than it should ideally be. Though yeah, after 56 days… I think I can forgive my body for being a little bit upset with me and tired! I managed 24km today; not much more than yesterday—just less than a kilometre more, with half an hour or so extra skiing: indeed, my pace today was a tiny bit slower than yesterday. At the same time I think there was a bit more uphill climbing today: the last hour or so, Sledmund became heavier and the ice was a little bit more messy, with wannabe sastrugi peeping through! This is generally a sign of a climb as the winds accelerate on the downhills, cutting more into the snow to create features like sastrugi. (Just looked at the degree profile in the route briefing document I was sent! Yes, today was pretty much ALL uphill! Makes me feel a little less bad about my efforts! Haha! Yes it was gradual… but definitely perceptible. At least tomorrow by the looks of it, the climbing should ease.)

Bump into the neighbours?

As I skied I could see another team of three people almost directly to my east. Difficult to judge distances here though I’d say they’re about a mile away. Not sure what route they are doing; most likely just the final degree as those expeditions largely start further east. Difficult to really meet them, though I can see their tent nearby. I wonder if we will eventually bump into each other. It seems a lot of expeditions have passed through this part: you can see the tracks of their sleds and skis in the snow all going towards the Pole like meandering longitudinal lines!

40 miles to go

So yes, I am now at S89 27s, which means that I have 33 more nautical miles (around 40 miles/60km) to go. So so close and truly very exciting! I keep imagining seeing the research base appearing on the horizon… but I still have a lot of skiing to do before that happens!

There also looks to be another challenge…!

Getting home

I spoke with Antarctic Steve of ALE earlier and apparently there is a flight from the Union Glacier base to Punta Arenas on 14th – weather permitting. Otherwise, the next flight is on the 20th. The problem is that my tickets home are on the 17th! This means I definitely have to get to the Pole by the 13th at the latest to be able to fly back to Union Glacier. I possibly MIGHT have to get there by the 12th… though am awaiting confirmation from the ops team about that, and will have to wait until tomorrow. There are “a lot of moving parts” apparently.

Early start tomorrow

Getting there for the end of the 12th would be a real push. 60km in two days. I’ve managed it before in my normal skiing day, though my body was much happier back then! So just in case, I am going to start out very early for a longer day tomorrow, to hopefully cut that distance in half. Then I’ll be well placed for a final push on the 12th. If they end up telling me I can arrive later, then no problem – I’d be able to take it easier on the 12th and enjoy it more. At least at the Pole I won’t have to worry about cooking or anything, as ALE have a base there where I’ll be able to relax! Wish me luck!

Photo: not sure if you will be able to see considering the low resolution of the photos sent through the satellite connection, but in the distance you should hopefully see the tent of the other expedition.

Visit Ben’s blog site to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp and donation links to Cancer Research UK at

Antarctic plateau sun haze in sky above ice

Day 54 Another painfully slow day

Yeah, am going through a bit of a tough patch at the moment. Am at S88 55, which means I am five nautical miles away from the last degree; 65 nautical miles away from the Pole (at a rough guess around 75 miles). So close! Yet it really does feel so far away.

All too happy to setup the tent at the end of the day

I only managed 19km today, probably one of the lowest distances across a full day since the start of the expedition almost a couple of months ago. Really felt it as an endless struggle and I was all too happy to setup the tent at the end of the day. This was despite the near perfect conditions with the sun out shining over the plateau (see photo!) and relatively little wind.

Seeing Mateusz again

Mateusz, who I last saw at Thiel Corner, passed me—super nice guy! Was great to see him going so well, and he should arrive at the Pole pretty soon as well. Really happy for him! A lady doing a solo expedition also from Hercules Inlet, who started after both Mateusz and I also passed! She’s amazing-she’s taken only around 30 days to get this far!!! Incredible! I know I was not looking to go for speed with this expedition, but still, seeing her disappear off into the distance… yeah, it just made me feel more tired!

88th and the 89th degrees are much harder than they look

Same issues as yesterday, with Sledmund feeling heavier than he should, and just feeling drained. My neck and shoulders are definitely not helping things and I have found myself stopping more frequently again to try and stretch. According to ALE the 88th and the 89th degrees are much harder than they look: while they are relatively flat with hardly any sastrugi, the cold conditions together with the altitude issue I mentioned yesterday make it much harder. I spoke with them earlier and I might consider another day off; maybe that would help me acclimatise better and relieve the fatigue. Will see how I feel and speak with ALE again in the morning about that; bit worried about remaining food though will see what can be done.

Am sure I will get back to decent distances; just need to breathe!

Big Thanks to you all

Really great to have everyone’s support and it was so nice to read your comments on Alan’s nightly email. I really do appreciate everyone’s thoughts and wishes. They really do mean a lot to me especially during this difficult part of the journey.

Visit Ben’s blog site to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp and donation links to Cancer Research UK at

a view from inside of the tent as the snow accumulates around it outside.

Day 53 A hard day’s work

Today was pretty tough. The conditions were lovely; around -25C with very little wind, and I thought as I packed up the tent and sled that I’d be able to get a good distance in. How lovely it would have been had that been the case!

Weighed down

Right from the off, Sledmund felt like he weighed as much as he did at the start of the expedition. I know I got a few days extra meals, but they’re not that heavy!! As I mentioned yesterday, a fair bit of snow came down over the last couple of days—and there was a fair amount of digging to get the tent out!—so I guess that didn’t help. Not sure about other reasons. I felt a bit breathless at the start, possibly due to the altitude: I mentioned in a post some time ago (at least I think I did! Sorry if I didn’t!!) that while the plateau is around 2,700m-2,800m above sea level on my route, the effect of the extreme latitude makes it feel closer to around 4,500m.

50 days on the move

Another factor could also simply be fatigue, considering I have been skiing for over 50 days now. Some stomach problems also didn’t help… needing to relieve myself twice after once already in the tent vestibule before leaving was really annoying! While the rest yesterday was good, the strain on the body has been immense and I think I’ll need some time to recover once this is over!

Doubts creeping in

So I just managed to ski 22km—far below the “glory days!” of 32km! It raises confidence issues again, especially while am skiing. Struggling to move forward and seeing how my pace was so much slower than it has been… Those doubts creeping into my head despite being less than 100 miles from the Pole. Do I have the strength and endurance left to manage this? What if it’s like this the rest of the way? Can I really manage? Not nice thoughts to have right now!

ETA 12th January

Worked out that I do have enough provisions to keep going at this pace and reach the Pole, which is comforting! Though that would be by the 12th January… better late than never I guess, but hopefully I’ll be able to manage to make better progress than this over the coming days.

Photo: a view from inside of the tent as the snow accumulates around it outside.

Visit Ben’s blog site to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp and donation links to Cancer Research UK at

Antarctica white out conditions from tent

Day 52 Time to recover for the final push

After I sent the last blog post and prepared to get into my sleeping bag and go to sleep last night, I had some pretty bad cramp in my legs. I also woke up pretty achy this morning, so decided to take the day off to recover. Which has been nice. I have been thinking about it for a few days, and with the conditions today also not being good, now was as good a time as any! So, just relaxing, sleeping and listening to the second audio book of The Expanse series, Caliban’s War. Great series!

Fresh snow building around the tent

So not much to report really! A lot of fresh snow being blown around by the strong winds, building up around the tent, which regularly requires shifting. Not quite whiteout conditions, but pretty cloudy and foggy limiting visibility, today but they were not nice at all. Hopefully the new snow won’t slow travel down too much tomorrow. Same old! Haha!

Technical gremlins

The only thing of real annoyance, however, is that the application I use on my phone to interface with my Garmin InReach locator, and send messages to friends and family, has logged itself out, and I am unable to log back in because I have no internet connection. My iridium device is limited to minutes for sending emails and that’s it. This means that while I can still receive messages on the actual InReach, I can only send messages on it, which is through selecting one letter at a time with arrow keys… a slow and laborious process. Extremely upset with Garmin. Good job this has only happened close to the end of the journey.

Get to the Pole!

Still have my satellite phone and the Iridium Go! that I use to send these blog posts to Alan to post, so it’s not the end of the world. It’s just annoying. I want to get going and get to the Pole!

Photo: snow building up at the back of the tent as the haze hovers around the plateau

Visit Ben’s blog site to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp and donation links to Cancer Research UK at

Ben Weber polar explorer expedition on Antarctic ice

Day 51 On to the upper plateau!

Another 26.5km travelled and I have reached my resupply cache! I am pretty much on the upper polar plateau now at just below 2,700m above sea level. The Pole is close to 2,800m but any climbing will be in the next degree and only be gradual.

Additional food supplies and biscuit treats

With my resupply, I now have an extra few days’ worth of food just to make sure I have enough to get to the Pole. ALE also included little Christmas treats; a couple of bear shaped biscuits with my name on! So sweet! The guys at ALE are amazing – great support! I definitely enough food now to be able to take a day off if I want as well. And if conditions tomorrow are similar to today, I’d be very tempted.

Ben Weber Antarctic polar expedition biscuit treat
Fog and clouds closed in and the wind increased

It just wasn’t nice! Okay at the start it was good, a bit of wind, cloud and sun. I was lucky for it to stay like that for a couple of hours or so. But then the fog and clouds closed in and the wind increased. I was a little worried about the wind strength and putting up the tent, but fortunately everything was alright.

Answering the call of nature

Also—I don’t know if you remember but I mentioned in one post about how I always make sure that I make a toilet in the tent vestibule, so I can relieve myself inside—while I did just that… my bowels insisted on wanting to be relieved yet again during the middle of the day. Which.. Is. Not. Pleasant. Especially in strong wind—wind chill approaching -40C— and having to work out all the layers. Again, fortunately I avoided any cold injuries but I was pretty worried!

Happy to be in the tent now for sure. The forecast isn’t great for the next few days so I will have to think about the day off and see what it’s like. Obviously, I won’t stay put the entire time the weather isn’t great, but a rest day would be nice before the final charge to the Pole!

A bit more about clothing

I talked yesterday about my mittens (I prefer them to gloves as they keep the fingers warmer), though with my main clothes, I dress relatively lightly, so as to not overheat. It’s amazing how much heat your body generates as you travel pulling the sled!

Over the last weeks, while travelling in temperatures reaching -25C (ex wind chill), I have mainly worn a thin fish net base layer. The gaps in the fabric help make it light and easy to dry as well as warm—for both upper and lower body. Then, aside from my normal underwear underneath, over that a pair of thermal shorts to help protect against frost bite with “polar thigh”. On my torso I have just been wearing a light mid-layer.

Then it’s just the outer shell: salopettes and a wind jacket. The way the salopettes come up to the chest also helps keep warmth inside. Though in the Warner temperatures I invariably have had to open up the zippers to ventilate and nut overheat. Again, I don’t want to sweat while travelling as that can be dangerous.

Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK

Visit Ben’s blog site to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp.

Polar Explorer mits and gloves

Day 50 Last of the sastrugi..?!

Could it be?! Could it really be..?!

Could this be the last of the sastrugi? The conditions this morning were not great. Cloudy, windy, cold. At least the terrain was good for the first few kilometres, though whatever hope that I has passed the worst of it all yesterday quickly vanished as they started to reappear and become increasingly dense and large. Just as I got to it, the clouds became thicker and it effectively became a whiteout… typical. And it cleared up just as I approached the end of it all, after around 10km. Again, typical!

Smoothing out

But after that, the sastrugi and the climbing eased off significantly and it has since been really smooth. I have heard reports from other teams that it does get a lot better from roughly where I am, so here’s hoping! I have suspicions that it I might have left the sastrugi behind! Wow!

The Pole is so close

In terms of distance covered, I managed a total of 27km, so am pretty pleased to be getting back to the distances I was reaching prior to the climbs and sastrugi fields of the 86th and 87th degree. The forecast for the next three days is, however, not good, with whiteouts, snow and wind. But if the terrain is okay… then let’s see; hopefully can keep this up. The Pole is so close!!

Position: S88 18.8271 / W082 26.5886

Total distance covered today: 27km

Actual progress: 14.3 nautical miles

Distance remaining: 101.2 nautical miles

Keeping hands and fingers warm…

I mentioned yesterday about my mittens and  I realize that I haven’t really talked much about layering. With my hands, as I say, I am particularly worried as I have had frostbite in my thumbs before and it is incredibly painful warming them up, as the blood starts flowing again and the nerves start to feel. Everybody has their own preferences for gloves and how they layer up as well. So what’s good for me isn’t necessarily great for others.

Keeping fingers in good order

While I need to keep my hands warm, if they sweat, the water will get into the mittens. For the liners, that’s not the end of the world, as they can dry quickly. If that sweat gets into the larger mittens though, then they are much harder to dry. If they don’t dry properly then the water will freeze and the mittens become less effective in keeping you hands and fingers warm. So I can’t just wear the big mittens constantly: I need to take them off if I feel my hands getting too warm.

Snug mits

But then, with the liner gloves, they can be great for a while but depending on temperatures—it was fine a -10C—I can feel my hands cooling. It’s a constant monitoring process; just to make sure of the balance. Combining the woollen mittens with my liners seems to have created a nice solution for the colder temperatures. Especially as both dry so easily and wool keeps the warmth in even when wet. At -22C with no wind, I can wear them both together, without needing the larger mittens so often. Then when it gets windy, the larger mittens fit snugly over them.

I am constantly on the lookout for more effective means, and I have several other gloves and mittens with me. Though yes, this seems to work. I also have a spare pare if larger mittens in case I am unable to dry my main pair. Better safe than sorry!

Photo: mittens mittens everywhere!

Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK

Visit Ben’s blog site to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp.

Ben Weber Antarctic expedition gas stove in tent

Day 48 A day of two halves and 88S

What a day! As always… tiring! A little bit colder at around -22C but with a stiff southeasterly wind, the windchill was around -34C or so. I always find days like this tough with the extra worry about making sure I don’t get any cold injuries. I ended up using my woollen mittens under my large liner mittens with a pair of comfy over-mittens for if and when my hands got a bit too cold and that worked a treat. It’s a bit colder in the tent now as well because of the clouds blocking out the sun. Miss those blue skies already!

Crossing into the 88th and 120 miles to go

But yes, the day started with me leaving my camp on the side of a sharply rising snow dune and in the middle of a mega sastrugi field, and the first 12km or so were a series of these short sharp dunes, covered with the sastrugi. It was constant! As I left the 87th degree, however, and got into the 88th (yay!!!! Less than 120 nautical miles to go and I am on the edge of the plateau, around 2,600m above sea level!), over the next 12km or so both the dunes and the sastrugi started to fade away and pretty much transformed to flat snow ahead! Could it be that I have left all that behind..?! Fingers crossed!!!

The Pole by the 9th; maybe even the 8th

So, 26.5km travelled! My best distance for a while now, and hopefully the conditions (and my body!) will allow me to sustain and build on this! I still think I can get to the Pole by the 9th; maybe even the 8th but that might be too hard. I will just go at the pace my body and the conditions allow. However, I do feel like I could do with one more rest day as I am starting to feel drained. 48 days skiing is a long time! I just want to make sure that any rest day coincides with bad weather: it would be terrible to take it on a good day only to have to travel in horrible conditions on the next.

Veered a little to the east

If you look at the map you will see I veered a little to the east: this is because I have my resupply at pretty much the same longitude that I have now reached. Still 30 nautical miles away so I veered too sharply!! So I should be heading pretty much directly south now. To the resupply, and to the Pole!

Thanks for the jokes and support

Glad to hear you are better JoJo! And as always, thank you so much to everyone for your support, your jokes, your Christmas and new year messages! It really does help me to keep going!

Photo; getting the stove ready

Photo: getting the stove ready. Need to pump the valve in the bottle, prime the stove by letting a little fuel into the cup at the bottom of it and lighting. Once it has heated up enough, you can hear the sound change to a kind of hissing, then you can open the valve again to let the fuel flow!

Ear worms! For some reason I had the Imperial March from Star Wars in my head. No idea why!

Position: S88 04.7342 / W082 35.9281

Approximate distance travelled: 485nm

Approximate distance remaining: 115nm

Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK

Visit Ben’s blog site to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp.

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

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

Visit Ben’s blog site to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp.

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

Visit Ben’s blog site to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp.

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