Hitting the Wall
Jade and her team had made it onto the high plateau. Now the going got even tougher. The high altitude made her dizzy and short of breath.
Temperatures were so cold— -50°C (-58°F)—and the wind so harsh, that even a face mask and five layers of clothing barely kept her warm when she was moving.
That’s not all. Daily lunches were a nightmare. Jade sat on a piece of foam with her back to the wind and tried to get frozen salami, cheese, and crackers into her mouth with her mittened hands. Snow covered her clothes and food. Sometimes she just gave up trying to eat anything at all. After lunch, it took a half hour of hard skiing and a lot of arm flapping to even begin to warm up again.
The third day on the plateau—the
27th day of the journey—Jade hit her personal “wall.” A stabbing pain in her hip nearly crippled her. Her ears were ringing, and she felt like throwing up. Her fingers and toes had lost all feeling. Snow had gotten down inside her boots and clothes, chilling her to the bone.
The team struggled to eat lunch in the cold.
That evening, Jade collapsed in her tent, in tears. Maybe it was too much. Maybe the freezing cold and the blasting wind, the heavy-as-lead sled, and the endless kilometers of frozen ridges would defeat her.
She spent hours writing in her journal that night. This was her moment of decision. Could she go on? How badly did she want to succeed? Jade knew in her heart there was only one answer to that question. She had to make it.
The next day, Jade zipped up her parka, strapped on her skis, and forged ahead. She later said that once she got warm skiing, she forgot how much pain she had been in.
As Jade trudged forward, the ice looked ready to attack!
Jade posed with the Australian flag at the South Pole.
True grit paid off. On the morning of January 10, 2018, Jade and her team woke to blue skies and bright sunshine. Climbing a ridge, they spotted the South Pole station—a tiny black line on the horizon. Jade could hardly believe they were almost there! At last, as evening came, they skied into the Amundsen‑Scott Station at the South Pole. After an epic 37‑day journey, they had made it.
The victory was hard won. But Jade never gave up. She had pushed through brutal cold, hunger, pain, and despair. And here she was, at last.
In arriving at the South Pole at age 16, Jade became:
the youngest person to ski coast-to-South Pole unsupported and unassisted
the first woman—and part of the first all‑Australian team— to set a new route from the coast to the South Pole
the youngest person to ski to both the North and South poles
the youngest person to complete the Polar Hat Trick!