Ben and Tarka’s first South Pole miles and end date explained

Posted: Nov 04, 2013 05:38 am EST


(By Correne Coetzer) An exceptionally long distance covered on the first day and a planned end date into February, later than the normal ski season’s close-down, made for questions by the polar community on Ben Saunders and Tarka L’Herpiniere’s blog. 


Bad weather at Novolazarevskaya delays the November 3rd flight from Cape Town with  kite-skiers Geoff Wilson and Faysal Hanneche.


Ben Saunders and Tarka L’Herpiniere, Cape Evans return journey


On their first day, Ben and Tarka covered 12.9 miles / 20.64 km / 11.1 nm, which was quite a long distance for a team with 110 days of food and gear. It turned out that they didn't start with full loads on the first day.


Ben explained in his blog, “the main reason we travelled so far on day one is that we left a lot of our food and fuel near where our plane landed on McMurdo's sea ice runway by Scott's Discovery hut, before skiing fast to Cape Evans with lighter loads to visit/start from the Terra Nova hut, and then picking up the food and fuel on the way back. We wanted the plane to drop us and all our gear at Scott's Terra Nova hut but new regulations prevented that, and skiing there (the wrong way) from McMurdo with 200kg each in tow would have taken another two days, before we'd even reached "day one"”.


Questions were also raised about their planned end date, 110 days after their start, a figure which one of their home team confirmed. This will take them to February 11th, 2014, if successful with the return journey to Terra Nova Hut. 


The “normal” logistic support by ALE/ANI is planned to end on January 27th [weather permitting as usual], but, explained Steve Jones, Field Operations Manager of ALE/ANI, they have made special arrangements for Ben and Tarka to stay 110 days on the ice.


Geoff Wilson and Faysal Hanneche, Novo Base start


The flight to Novo is now scheduled for midnight November 5th. Geoff Wilson told ExplorersWeb. Geoff admits, although the usual brain games plays with his mind, have I trained hard enough? Is the gear correct?...”, he is keen to get started.


Gateway port Cape Town, South Africa: 

To ALCI base camp Novolazarevskaya / Novo 

70° 46’37”S, 011° 49’26”E 


Gateway port Punta Arenas, Chile, South America: 

To ALE/ANI base camp, Union Glacier 

79° 45'S, 083° 14'W


Hercules Inlet is located at 80°S near Union Glacier, 1130 km from the Geographic South Pole.


1 nautical mile (nm) = 1.852 km

1 nm = 1.151 miles

1 knot = 1.852 km/h

1 degree of Latitude is 110 km / 60 nm / 70 miles

Sastrugi are hard snow bumps and can be as high as 10 feet

A nunatak is a top of a mountain visible above the snow surface.


South Pole of Inaccessibility 2011-12 position: 

S82°06.696, E055°01.951

Geographic South Pole: 90 degrees South


A "solo" ski requires an unassisted status (therefore no supplies carried by pilots or car drivers, or anything received from any person).


Follow daily South Pole blog updates in the News Stream on ExplorersWeb and the Pythom app. 





South Pole 2013-14 update: First team a week on the ice


Adventure Stats and Rules


Adventure Network International (ANI)

Antarctic Logistics Centre International (ALCI)


#polar # southpole2013 #bensaunders #tarkalherpiniere



Ben Saunders: "the main reason we travelled so far on day one is that we left a lot of our food and fuel near where our plane landed on McMurdo's sea ice runway."
courtesy Ben Saunders and Tarka L Herpiniere, SOURCE
South Pole routes
courtesy ExplorersWeb, SOURCE

Visit our new website