Hard‑won Gains

Jade’s team included her father, Paul Hameister, a mountaineer; master polar guide Eric Philips; cameraman Ming d’Arcy; and assistant cameraman Heath Jamieson.

From the beginning, conditions were brutal. The route started uphill and hardly ever leveled off. Jade struggled with her sled up icy slopes. She headed into wind so strong and so loud that she had to scream to be heard. Jade felt like she was standing still, even though she was pushing forward with all her might.

With the expedition cameraman behind her, Jade slowly made her way across the ice.

The steep hills were slick with blue ice. They were hard and slippery, like glass. Jade’s skis couldn’t get traction. When the team wasn’t skiing, everyone wore trail crampons—spiked metal plates on the bottom of their boots to help them walk.

Higher and higher they climbed, across the Kansas Glacier. No human had ever set foot here. Ahead was a steep ascent out of the glacier. This would take them through the Transantarctic Mountains—if they could make it.

Sastrugi—wave‑like ridges of ice— made the journey more difficult.

The going got even harder as they came upon sastrugi. These are wave‑like ridges of ice formed by the wind. Skiing across them was, as Jade said, “like skiing on a choppy ocean that has been frozen in time.”

Ahead, the far wall of the glacier looked like a giant, frozen tsunami.

At 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) above sea level, they reached the highest point—the Stanford Plateau. This was a major victory, but they still had a long way to go.

Man Down!

The greatest dangers on the route were the crevasses. These deep, seemingly bottomless cracks are covered by snow bridges that hide them. Jade and her team knew they needed to watch out, or they could tumble to their deaths. The team carried long coils of rope. When they suspected hidden crevasses, they roped themselves together in case somebody fell. It was tense and hard going.

One afternoon, when Jade had taken a break, she heard a wild yell. What was that? She knew the others had gone on ahead. A short distance away, she saw cameraman Ming chest‑deep in a crevasse. He was hanging onto the edge with his fingers! Jade ran toward him, screaming for her dad. Ming managed to pull himself up and out of the crevasse. Whew!