ICY QUEST TRULY EPIC
Plucky Australian schoolgirl Jade Hameister was aged just 14 when she decided to take on skiing to the North Pole, the South Pole and crossing Greenland – an epic adventure brought to life in a new doco
Taking on a trek to one of the poles would be challenging enough for any adult – one of those life goals to tick off the bucket list. But at just 14, Jade Hameister decided she would take on not one but three epic Arctic and Antarctic expeditions.
The Melbourne schoolgirl, whose father Paul is an accomplished mountaineer, became the youngest person to complete the Polar Hat Trick, and cameras were there to capture the entire 2000km journey.
“Because our family has always done adventures together, with dad having climbed mountains, it was always normal for us,” she says.
“When I decided this was something I wanted to do he said ‘well, we’ll look into it’. It’s the environments and the remoteness of these cold places that struck me.”
Hameister’s ambitious ‘polar quest’ involved skiing to the North Pole, the South Pole and crossing Greenland, the second largest polar ice cap on the planet.
“I didn’t know how to ski going into these expeditions,” she says. “I spent a couple of days in New Zealand learning how to ski and that was the start for me.
“Then we spent four days on the Tasman Glacier pulling sleds and sleeping in tents, and I was put in a crevasse and I had to get myself out.”
Hameister and her father were accompanied by a cameraman or woman on each leg of the challenge.
“Our expeditions were unsupported and unassisted, so we couldn’t get resupplies,” she says.
“We had to carry all of our food and fuel from the start. All of our sleds were heavy loaded; mine was 90kg at the start of the South Pole.
“Everyone had their own stuff to deal with, at some point I couldn’t ask them for help because they were going through their own things.”
Hameister wasn’t always happy about having a camera in her face as she struggled against the elements during her four months on the ice, but she’s happy now to have her treks on film.
“It was bittersweet having a camera person follow you around everywhere,” she says. “It was the best and worst of times when I was caught on camera.
“I said yes (to the documentary) because it was a good distraction having the cameras there. You have so much time to think out there.
“Normally I would have music to use when things got really tough, but my music stopped working day three on the last expedition and I had 300 hours just with the voice in my head – that drove me a bit insane.”
The 16-year-old hopes to raise awareness about global warming among her peers.
“What struck me was the effect of climate change on these places, which was something I hadn’t thought much about as a 14-year-old girl going into these expeditions,” she says.
“Now that I’ve seen it first-hand, to be able to share my experiences and the footage with people, young people in particular, hopefully this can create a similar love for those environments and they will feel like they should do something about it.” Jade’s Quest: To the Ends of the Earth airs on Sunday at 7.30pm on the National Geographic Channel
Jade Hameister pictured in Antarctica in a scene from the new National Geographic TV documentary Jade's Quest: To the Ends of the Earth.