Bottomless, black ice pits beneath thin layers of snow. Sharp ice ridges, one after another, like frozen waves across the land. Howling winds and blowing ice crystals.
Jade Hameister knew her South Pole journey would be hard. But she never imagined it would be this unforgiving. She bent into the wind and strained to pull the heavy supply sled strapped to her waist. All she could do was put one ski in front of the other, one small step at a time.
Jade hauled her heavy sled into strong winds.
Jade's breath froze on her face mask.
Jade struggled to drag her sled over the ice.
Forging a Path
Jade had already completed two parts of the demanding Polar Hat Trick. She had skied to the North Pole and across Greenland. This South Pole adventure would be the final challenge. It was easy to see why hardly anyone—let alone a 16‑year‑old woman—had tried to do what she was attempting now.
Only 140 people in history have skied unsupported and unassisted from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole. And only 20 of these were women. These are small numbers when you compare it to all who have climbed Mount Everest— 5,000 or more!
Unsupported and unassisted meant that Jade’s team would travel under their own muscle power, without sled dogs or vehicles. No supplies would be airlifted to them along the way. Every single thing they needed for the estimated 40 days had to be loaded onto sleds and hauled along. By the time those sleds were heaped with food, camp stoves and fuel, clothing, tents, and equipment, each one weighed more than 80 kilograms (176 pounds).
As if this wasn’t enough, Jade and her team decided to take on an added challenge. They wanted to create a new route to the South Pole.
They studied maps and identified a coast‑to-pole route that no one had ever taken. They would start from the Ross Ice Shelf on the Amundsen Coast. Most other expeditions followed routes that were longer but flatter. This route would take them through steep, challenging terrain. They’d ski across the Kansas Glacier through the Transantarctic Mountains that divide this coldest continent.
The expedition was unsupported and unassisted. That meant the team had to carry or pull everything they needed.