JADE HAMEISTER, 16, is the youngest person in human history to have completed the incredible ''Polar Hat-trick'. After reaching both the North and South Poles and crossing the Greenland Icecap, Jade’s Polar Quest saw her cover around 1,300km over three expeditions in 75 days on the ice on skis. Dragging a sled weighing more than her own body weight in some of the most extreme and beautiful environments on the planet, Jade has set records and inspired thousands with her determination.
TOM DUNN: Who is Jade Hameister?
JADE HAIMESTER: I am 16 years old. I live In Melbourne, and I love adventure.
TD: You come from a very adventurous family with your dad accompanying both you and your brother on some serious treks. Is adventure a passion, or a part of your upbringing?
JH: It’s both. As a young girl I grew up in a house where dad was always heading off on adventures and he and mum always found a way to take my brother and I on small adventures that always seemed just a little too hard for how old we were (like trekking to Everest Base Camp when Kane was 10 and I was 12!). I guess there was a chance I could have not enjoyed those trips, but I did – I loved getting outside in nature and challenging myself physically and mentally.
TD: You had some tough moments in an unforgiving environment whilst on the recent Antarctic trip, more than once finishing the day in tears. Where does the drive to keep going through that come from?
JH: Doing these trips gives me a buzz – whenever I get home after being away for so long, I want to be back. It’s weird that suffering can be addictive – it makes you feel alive. You just fully immerse yourself in the moment, unlike everyday life with constant distractions eg. social media.
TD: What's the one thing you wish other people could experience from you trips to help them understand what you've been through?
JH: I am very aware of what a unique privilege it has been to experience our planet’s three main polar environments first-hand at my age. The main thing I want to share with other people is just how beautiful and precious Earth’s polar regions are. I hope that our NatGeo documentary will give people an insight into this and make young people care more about protecting this one planet we all share.
TD: The saying is that "Records are there to be broken". What's more appealing to you; holding your current record or breaking a new one?
JH: To be honest the records were cool, but they weren’t the reason why I wanted to do these trips. I would have done the trips without the records. Most of the records we only found out about after we’d committed to a trip or even during an expedition!
TD: After completing the trek you took a fairly significant photo posed with a sandwich. What was the message you were sending with that image?
JH: In 2016, after becoming the youngest person to ski to the North Pole from anywhere outside the last degree, I gave a TEDx talk about inspiring young women to shift the focus from how they appear to the possibilities of what we can do and can contribute to improving our world. A lot of men posted the comment “Make me a sandwich”, which pretty much means get back in the kitchen where you belong. I laughed at the comments and it didn’t upset me at all, but for a bit of fun, after we reached the South Pole, the next day I took a sandwich back from the base camp there and took a photo that I posted, offering it to those men if they could ski to the Pole as I had. My main message was that it’s easy to sit behind a computer screen and ridicule or bully someone chasing their dream, but the reality is those insecure people generally are too afraid to take a chance themselves.
TD: Out of the three main expeditions you've done, can you separate which one was most special to you?
JH: The final expedition was the most special to me, but they were all amazing. Travelling on floating arctic sea ice to the North Pole was incredible and I learnt the technical side to polar exploration on that expedition (North Pole, April 2016, 11 days). Then on our Greenland Crossing (June 2017, 27 days) I learnt heaps more and conditions were really warm (which made things hard). On the South Pole expedition (37 days) I was pretty much left to deal with the very difficult conditions on my own as an independent team member – but the absolute highlight was being the first humans to travel up the Kansas Glacier and find a new route through the Transantarctic Mountain Range from the coast (as Amundsen and Scott had done around 100 years ago).
TD: After those three big polar trips what's now your dream trip to complete? Perhaps something warmer?
JH: I’m working on it. I’m not really interested in the obvious, like the Seven Summits, which is considered by many people as adventure tourism these days. What I loved most was going to completely unexplored places where no human has set foot. My ultimate dream would be deep space travel.
TD: At 16 years old, how do you balance being an internationally famed explorer and being a school kid?
JH: I certainly never think of myself as an internationally famed explorer (or a kid!). It has been hard balancing the expeditions and the training required with my school work. Thankfully, the expedition season windows for each trip has overlapped with school holidays so that I have only missed a bit of school. My teachers have been great at helping me catch up and the school gave me an exemption from inter-school sport so I could dedicate training time to the polar expeditions (like dragging a tire for long periods on the beach).
TD: What do you hope the next 5 years will hold for you?
JH: The next 2 years will be focused on trying to get the best marks I can in school so that I can get into which ever University course I decide on (not sure at this stage). I have the NatGeo film on my journeys coming out mid this year and a book with PanMacmillan later this year. There are some other really exciting partnerships and collaboration opportunities that I am exploring, but the key for me is working out what I care about the most and finding a way to make a positive impact on our world.
TD: Is there a final piece of advice or inspiration would you like to leave us with?
JH: We all (especially young people) should choose bravery over perfection as our goal. If we make perfection our goal, we often become so fearful of making mistakes or looking silly that we don’t even try. If we choose bravery, we accept that we might fail or embarrass ourselves, but we try anyway. That was certainly my approach with these polar journeys.
Get in touch with Jade Hameister:
Facebook - @jadehameister
Instagram - @jadehameister
Website - jadehameister.com
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