Teenager Jade Hameister skis into the history books

By Richard Scott April 27, 2016
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A 14-year-old girl from Melbourne has become the youngest person in history to ski to the North Pole.

WHILE HER CLASSMATES were lazing about on school holidays, 14-year-old Jade Hameister was trekking her way into the record books.

On Sunday, the Year 9 student from Melbourne became the youngest person in history to ski to the North Pole. She was sponsored by the Australian Geographic Society.

Jade’s cross-country expedition – more than 150km, with average temperatures of -25C – was meant to take 21 days but serious cracks in the temporary runway (at Russian ice base Barneo) ­forced her to complete the whole trip in just 11 days – an experience she describes as “weird and surreal”.

Jade Hameister

Jade covered more than 16km a day, skiing for ten hours at a time, pulling a 50kg sled behind her, and uploading a daily snap of her progress to her Instagram account.

The trip certainly wasn’t without its difficulties. She contracted frostnip (early frostbite) in her “legs and bottom” from “peeing in a hole in the ice,” and suffered a loss of feeling in her fingers that is slowly beginning to return as she thaws out at home.

“Because of the many challenges you’ll face [in the polar regions] – compression sickness, dehydration, the cold – the greatest challenge of all is, probably, the mental side,” Jade said. “You can deal with the cold, you can deal with being uncomfortable, but the effort required to deal with all of those at once can be mentally draining.”

Luckily, she had her father and training partner, Paul, by her side the whole time, helping to boost morale. Paul is a record breaker himself, as the 12th Australian to have conquered the Seven Summits. Also on the trip were Eric Philips, the first Australian to ski both the North and South Poles and 2015 AG Lifetime of Adventure Award recipient, and Petter Nyquist, a filmmaker who will turn Jade’s story into a documentary.

The mission continues

Reaching the North Pole was just the first leg of Jade’s Polar Quest – a “polar hat-trick” that will see the intrepid teen attempt the Greenland Crossing and South Pole by December 2017. By the time she’s done, Jade will have spent four months on the ice and covered more than 2000km.

She says her main goal is to inspire other young women to be more active and reach their dreams, just as she was motivated by others. Jade was compelled to become an adventurer after befriending two adventurers she met at Mt Everest Base Camp when she was 12. One was Lydia Bradey, the first woman to climb Everest without oxygen, the other Icelandic skier Vilborg Arna Gissurardottir.

But for now though, she’ll enjoy a well-earned breather, and catch up on her school work, before returning to her punishing CrossFit training program, to prepare for the 540km Greenland Crossing in April 2017.

You can follow Jade’s adventures on her website