sled in snow Antarctica with Three Sails Mountains in distance

Day 11 Storms, Sastrugi, Three Sails Mountains and stunning views!

14.5km/ 9miles

Last night… wow! That was a terrific storm. As expected, it reached its strongest from around 3-5am and it really was strong. Very happy with the tent – always felt very stable and no problems at all. I have doubled up the guy lines and the tent poles to increase its strength, and yup, all very steady in the midst of the tumult!

The winds did take some time to die down though. Normally I would start getting out my sleeping bag at around 7.30am but there was no point this morning as it was still way too bad. By midday they had eased a little; enough for me to start packing up but still they were strong enough to make life very hard putting the tent away! As I put all the bags into the sled the spindrift would get blown into my face making it hard to see, and into the sled, giving more unnecessary weight to it! By 1.15pm though I was ready to go.

The conditions from then on though continued to improve. Visibility was great so I could see all the sastrugi ahead of me and the winds calmed down further to, within a few hours, effectively just a gentle breeze. Still wind chill of -35C or so apparently though!! There was some uphill for the last few miles, but nothing very steep. The main concern, as it had been for the last week or so, was my neck. Definitely improving, though still uncomfortable. I still have to keep rotating and stretching it, and occasionally when I turn it to stretch I feel a wave of agony that forces an involuntary cry from my mouth… but it’s getting better. The worst is when I camp – maybe because am not moving it so much and it becomes stiffer. But fine… it’s tolerable!

Amazing views

The view from where I am camping tonight is incredible. I can see the mountains of the Horseshoe Valley and the Three Sails that I passed back in the distance… spectacular! I imagine this is the last night I will see them as I will get further away and there will only be flat white snow ahead of me and in every direction. The next mountains will be the Thiel Mountains in around 25 days… if all goes well. Until then… nothing!

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Click on the tracker below to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp.

Ben Weber relaxing in tent antarctica

Day 9 A slow and painful 10k


But at least it is another Antarctic 10km done!! Today was always intended to be a shorter day considering the pains over the last few days. I wanted to see how I’d be able to get on with the neck and how the neck would react to more exertion. At the same time, I didn’t want to overdo it and hurt my muscles even more than they have been.

So, after speaking one more time with the doctor in the morning, I set out at around midday. Complete whiteout for the most part – low cloud meant that only very diffuse light was getting through making it hard to see the obstacles (sastrugi!!) in my path. Fortunately, the sastrugi seem to have eased somewhat; they are smaller than earlier and less prevalent, which is a relief. It still meant also navigating by the compass and using the wind. I am currently wanting to go south southeast and the wind is coming from the southwest, so just keeping the wind coming across from my right helps keep me with the right heading. The cloud also eased a bit towards the end of the day which helped a bit.

Progress was certainly slow. I had to stop every couple of hundred metres or so to try rotating my head around, up and left and down and right; repeat a few times and reverse. It did kind of help. It meant that by the time I did stop to camp at around 6pm I wasn’t in agony this time… which was a welcome relief. Still painful, just not quite as bad!

Storm on its way

So, I have had my evening call with the people at base. I need to come in further east as am quite near a crevasse field to my southwest, but am just about okay where I am. There is also meant to be a storm coming in over next couple of days, with winds getting up to around 100kph. Good test for the tent! And maybe a bit more time for the muscles to recover as it would be dangerous to ski in such conditions!

After note: And now, at 11pm, the sun is bright and high in the sky, making the tent feel so warm; like a greenhouse! Just the wind blowing though it’s easy to forget how it’s -20c outside at the moment!!

Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK

Click on the tracker below to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp.

expedition food in tant in antarctica

Day 7 Up on my skis again and again… not


So, it was a mixed day today. 15km covered and I felt pretty decent after the rest day yesterday. The pain in neck had subsided; uncomfortable but not bad. Great conditions at the start with a gentle breeze and clear skies. Perfect! Up and all packed up and ready to go by around 10am.

The omnipresent sastrugi was there of course just as you can’t have life too easy here. Really is endless! And Sir Sledmund Hillary has a bit of an issue with them as it’s really hard to pull his bulk over them, and if the sled comes to a large sastrugi at the wrong angle, it basically gets stuck. I have to look for ways around or just use all my strength to get the sled over them.

Looking for ways around the sastrugi becomes harder in whiteouts when you literally cannot see the sastrugi until you are right on top of them. And by around 1pm it had all clouded over and was pretty much whiteout conditions. Fortunately, this seemed to coincide with an easing in the frequency of the sastrugi, but still… not easy.

The last couple of hours I started to feel the pain returning a bit to my neck. Not too bad, enough to continue. But by the time I did camp, when I stopped, the pain suddenly became quite excruciating again when I turned my head from left to right. Frustrating and painful to say the least.

I managed to setup the tent and everything alright, but it was a bit of a tortuous process, and called base camp for my daily scheduled call. Discussed with the expedition manager and the doctor there and we agreed that best taking another rest day and more meds. Most important is for this to get better then get more distance out of the way. I still have plenty of food and supplies so it should be alright. Just a bit of a pain the neck really! hehe!

So, had a nice beef hotpot tonight, some crackers, cookies and a hot chocolate. Time to get ready for bed! Have a good night!

Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK

Click on the tracker below to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp.

ben weber in tent antarctica expedition

Day 6 Rest Day

Not something I wanted to take quite so quickly but it was needed as the pain in my neck was in all honesty, pretty bad. It hurt as I was skiing yesterday, and I needed to constantly stop to try and turn my head and stretch my shoulders a little to help alleviate the pain. Then after I lay down in the tent, just simple things like sitting back upright brought almost excruciating pain… it wasn’t nice. The painkillers, muscle relaxants and rest have all helped though: it’s been a few hours since I took anything and while there is discomfort, the pain isn’t anywhere near like it was.

I think it was a combination of the extreme weight of the sled, over exertion and, worse than either of these, my harness not being adjusted correctly (entirely my fault, I should have adjusted earlier). The shoulder straps were too tight and the waist strap too loose so much of the sled’s 135kg in weight was being transferred into my shoulders and neck. Hopefully the adjustments I have made today will help when I ski again tomorrow.

So today, just eating away with my rest day rations – only around 3000kcal for days like this. A slightly smaller breakfast, and fewer snacks of chocolates, nuts, dried fruit, cheese, meat, and protein and energy bars during the day, enough to keep me going, but tomorrow back to my full 6300kcal intake – more of the same just in larger quantities! I also noticed that my one of my cheeks got a little burned as had been exposed to the elements through all the gear, so put some taping on my face—more pre-emptive than anything—to help prevent any reoccurrence. So not an entirely unproductive day.

Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK

Click on the tracker below to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp.

sled and ski poles on Antarctic ice

Day 4 First steep climb to 900m

Today was a day of -25 degrees, blue skies, some light headwinds and 16k/10miles travelled.

Slowly does it! It has been great to get up the first steep climb up from Hercules Inlet – I am around 900m altitude now and it will stay like this for a while which will be nice. 15km travelled yesterday and another 16km today… slowly increasing!

It’s not easy though – the terrain is anything but flat. The sastrugi are everywhere and every time I go over them I can feel the weight of the sled biting into me. I have reached a nice landmark though – a series of nunataks called the Three Sails are right in front of me and from here I start to make my way slightly southeastwards to 80 degrees west. The curved route until now has been to avoid major crevasse fields which would not be pleasant to go through!

Hopefully will be able to increase speed further, though I have to be careful. As I travelled today started to develop a bit of a neck ache which got very bad by the time I camped. It was nice to have a couple of iboprofin for some pain relief though hopefully this doesn’t get worse as I ski. I imagine the weight of the sled is not helping!!! Anyway, hope everyone is well!

Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK

Click on the tracker below to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp.

Hard Yards

The clock ticks towards my departure to Antarctica. There have been some fun hours spent in the local woods here in Carrbridge in the Cairngorms National Park. Dragging my four friends around the woods has raised some eyebrows and conversations with dog walkers, bikers and runners. #PolarWeber

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