Jade Hameister: “My record at the South Pole”

On the evening of 10 January 2018, 16-year-old Melbourne-born Jade Hameister arrived at the Amundsen-Scott Base, touching the geographic South Pole. On 6 December 2017 from the Ross Barrier, along the Amundsen Coast, she crossed 600 kilometers of ice on skis by pulling a 100-kg sled, without external assistance (the team that followed her was intended to document the adventure for National Geographic).

To get to his goal, Jade Hameister has traveled a new route through the Transantarctic Mountains chain, establishing a series of records that enter into the history of exploration. At 16 years and 7 months is officially the youngest person to have skied from the coast to the South Pole without assistance (and the first Australian woman to do so), but also the first woman to open a new way from the coast to the Polo and the first person to ski up to both Poles. It is also the youngest person to complete the Polar Hat Trick, the ‘polar triptych that is a classic of modern adventure: in April 2016 had reached the North Pole on skis (224 kilometers in 11 days), while in June 2017 has crossed Greenland (550 kilometers in 27 days).

In the Instagram post of January 10 announcing the end of the trip, Jade explains that she is not interested in the statistics, but she is rather proud of what she did. Because it started with the idea of ​​inviting public opinion to shift attention to the real possibilities women have. And because he feels he has retraced the footsteps of his father Paul (also in the team that followed the company) that 4 years ago had brought her to the Everest base camp and was the first Australian to complete the polar triptych . We interviewed her shortly after arriving at the South Pole.

What were your feelings when you arrived at the Amundsen-Scott Base, where the flags planted by the great explorers who reached the South Pole stand out?
“It was really surreal to see the first signs of civilization after 37 days of nature and isolation from any human being.” I felt excited to have reached my goal and have come to the end of my trips to the ends of the Earth started in 2016. But I also felt a bit of sadness, because I did not really want this adventure to end. ”

What did you say to your father on arrival? And at the start?
“We hugged each other and we celebrated.” At the start we were both very excited about the prospect of sharing these special feats as a father and daughter, and at the beginning we did not really think we would make history! ”

Which of your many records excites you the most?
“Among all, I most certainly feel that I am the first woman to establish a new route to the South Pole, starting from the coast and without assistance, but at the same time it leaves me perplexed when I think that the first man has succeeded in this same undertaking. even a century ago “.

How did you prepare for this adventure?
“I trained with my father for 6 days a week at all times, many exercises to develop strength, leg squats, step.To train specifically to pull the sled, I did a lot of dragging exercises on the beaches and in the parks “.

How did your typical day flow during this adventure to the Polo?
“We would wake up at 6 in the morning to warm up the water prepared the night before, so that it would not freeze on the sled during the day, in the meantime we would melt the snow and then prepare a hot breakfast. the camp and we prepared the sledges .. At 8:15 I left and pushed the skis for about 8-9 hours, then we mounted the new field and spent the next 3-4 hours to melt the snow to get the water to use for dinner and to drink.The next day we repeated the same routine “.

He defined his adventure as ‘a great mental challenge’. Because?
“In that place of the Earth you are constantly struggling with the elements – according to the guides we have faced the climatically more difficult season of the last 25 years.The cold and the wind brought the temperature down even to -50 °, with different storms: in those situations, to overcome the fear and fatigue you do not have to push forward only with the body but also with the mind .. At the same temperature the worst thing that can happen is stop, while in reality you have to keep moving to keep the body warm.

Had he already learned to manage risks and fatigue during previous expeditions?
“Yes, during the first, at the North Pole, I was faced with a steep learning curve, I learned a lot in Greenland, so in this South Pole venture I felt quite self-sufficient and able to handle situations. there is a point where not it counts more how much experience you have: you do nothing but suffer and hope that your body does what it has to do. I learned a lot from Eric Philips, a guide with 25 years of experience in these lands. “What was the most difficult time?” Christmas Day.
Beyond the nostalgia I felt for Christmas that I usually go home, there was a -50 ° storm and I could not really keep my hands warm, which caused intense pains throughout the day. I felt the tears fall from my glasses into the neoprene mask that enveloped my face.
It was so cold that we were forced to move and travel 14 kilometers to not freeze. It was a beastly thing. “Did loneliness suffer? How did you fight it?” Thanks to the team that followed me I was not completely alone. But I spent the day skiing completely isolated from others, ending up immersed in my thoughts, something that sometimes weighed heavily on me.
I had brought music to listen to but the device stopped working soon, so I had no outside distraction. In other adventures it has always helped me against loneliness, which is why it was particularly tough this time. “He first explored the Kansas Glacier and gave the names to some geological formations: Old Mate and His Mate, Opera House Ridge, Anzac Steps, Blue Tongue Crevasse Field Why these choices? “It is a unique and highly spectacular scenery: exploring it first was incredible. The name of the glacier derives from the Kansas University (university protagonist of the research in Antarctica), so we wanted to bring a little ‘of Australia among these snows. We chose funny and iconic names, typically Australian. Who will come to explore the area in the future can easily remember them.
Come to a warm, sunny city by the sea, because it attracts you so much the ice? “For me it represents the most epic aspect of the environment. It is a magnificent and surreal world. And for the most part never trampled and explored by man. That’s why I feel it so special. Not many people have the opportunity to try out experiences like mine, that’s why I’m really grateful and I feel privileged.
“Complete your three missions and set all these records to just 16, what will you do now?” I want to concentrate on studies and finish secondary school. Then … I still have no idea what I will do on the adventure front. “Despite his age you already have a great experience: what is your definition of adventure?” For me it is about going out into unknown lands and exploring places never seen by anyone.
But also push the limits, the pre-established borders a little further, and fight against the hardest elements of nature. I think it’s important for humans to test themselves and regularly test their perceptions of limits. Through suffering and discomfort we grow and learn a lot about ourselves. It is part of human nature to want to explore – that’s how we survived and thrived as a species. I was lucky enough to do it in the midst of great nature “.