Bottomless 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. Hardly anyone had tried to do what Jade was attempting now. She was only 16. Only 140 people have ever skied without assistance from the Antarctic coast to the South Pole. And only 20 of these were women.

Jade’s team would travel under their own muscle power, without sled dogs or vehicles. No supplies would be airlifted to them. Everything they needed for the estimated 40 days had to be loaded onto sleds and hauled. With food, camp stoves and fuel, clothing, tents, and equipment, each sled weighed more than 80 kilograms (176 pounds).

If this wasn’t enough, Jade and her team took on an added challenge. They wanted to take a new route to the South Pole. They studied maps and found a coast‑to-pole route that no one had ever taken. This would take them through steep, challenging terrain. They’d ski across the Kansas Glacier and through the Transantarctic Mountains that divide east and west Antarctica.

The team had to carry or pull everything they needed.