Family holidays for Jade Hameister have never been dull. In fact, they were what first nurtured this young explorer’s adventurous streak.
“Growing up in an adventurous family definitely inspired me to want to take on my own adventures,” said the 17-year-old thrillseeker.
Together with her parents and brother Kane, she has been on adventures around the world, including climbing Australia’s Mount Kosciuszko and Mt Bogong and Peru’s Machu Picchu, and was only 12 when she completed the trek to the base camp of Mt Everest.
Most spectacularly, though, last year, Hameister became the youngest person, at age 16, to complete a polar hat trick: three separate expeditions that involved skiing to the North Pole, South Pole and across Greenland, covering a total of about 1300km on skis.
She undertook the polar hat trick with dad Paul, guide Eric Philips and a camera team of one or two people — all unassisted and unsupported.
“This meant we didn’t have any food drops or resupplies by air. We carried all our food and fuel from the start and dragged the sleds ourselves, without dogs or the use of machines,” Hameister said.
The determined teen was inspired to tackle her polar quest after meeting two women who shared their tales of adventure with her. One had skied to the South Pole solo, while the other was the first woman to climb to the summit of Everest without supplemented oxygen.
“Their stories were definitely a trigger for me,” Hameister said.
In 2016, Hameister was awarded Australian Geographic Society’s Young Adventurer of the Year Award.
She lives in Melbourne’s Bayside area with her dad, mum Vanessa and brother. Her sights are now set on the next adventure, which is tackling year 12.
Her book, My Polar Dream (Pan Macmillan), released last year, recounts her experiences on the polar hat trick expeditions.
Typical Saturday morning
Either sleep in or get up and go to the gym and then play netball with some friends I have had since primary school.
My go-to staple on an expedition is butter. We take chunks of butter and put that in our two-minute noodles or just eat it on its own. Butter is just the best thing out on the ice.
I love listening to Jack Johnson and Sticky Fingers. I missed the Jack Johnson concert in December 2017 because I was away at the South Pole. A lot of my friends were going, so it was kind of bittersweet.
Favourite spot to relax
When the sun is setting, I’ll go up to the roof and watch it set from there.
Ideal night in
Hanging out with friends, just eating pizza and watching movies. My top three favourite movies are Interstellar, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and The Notebook.
Happiness at home
Summer days when I’m with family and friends.
Something I travel with
I have a few token items I take with me on all expeditions, such as a note from my brother and a card from Mum. There is also a medal from my great-grandma — little things that remind me of the people I love back home.
My favourite things
My Dad and I spent Christmas in Antarctica in 2017 (during the South Pole expedition). In the morning, he gave me this as a present, which he and Mum had picked out together before we headed off. They decided the two points on the bangle were like the North Pole and South Pole. It was so nice to receive it on what ended up being probably the toughest day of my life. We’d had really tough conditions and our guide said they were the worst he’d seen in his 25 years of guiding in those regions. The temperature on Christmas Day was about -50C with wind chill, along with a 40-knot headwind. We managed to cover 13.1km. It was also, equally, one of the best days of my life.
I kept journals on all three polar expeditions. My Aunty Karen had them custom made with a little tag on the cover that says, “Jade’s Quest”. I wrote in my journal every night after dinner and had to use a pencil because the ink in a pen would freeze in the extreme cold temperatures. I really like the ability to be able to reflect on everything that had happened during the day, like making it to the top of the previously unexplored Kansas Glacier (in Antarctica) and looking down on this beautiful part of the world.
This is a statue that was given to expeditioners in the past when they made it to the North Pole. In recent years, the Russian Geographic Society has started just giving certificates. Eric Philips, our guide for all three trips, had done the North Pole before. He gave me one of his old statues and had our names engraved on it, which was super special. It sits on a shelf in my bedroom and brings back great memories. One of the most exciting things that we did on this expedition was an open-water lead crossing when we couldn’t find an obvious way around. We were forced to make a raft with the sleds and then Eric swam across in his immersion suit while pulling us individually across from the other side as we sat on the ‘raft’.
I bought Mishka in the Svalbard Islands, in Norway, before we started our North Pole expedition in 2015. I met a lady named Masha Gordon there who was doing a last-degree expedition to the Pole. We became quite close. She was from Russia and so we decided to name the bear Mishka Jabaris, which loosely translates to fearless little bear in Russian. I attached it to the front of my sled as a symbol of encouragement.
I have worn this same jacket on all three polar expeditions. It was custom made in this colour by Mont Adventure Equipment. It has various badges sewn on it from each place of the three expeditions. I remember feeling really scared when our cameraman fell into a crevasse at one point during the South Pole expedition. He was all right, though — he was hanging on to the edge; he didn’t fall all the way through. Nobody else saw it because they were a long way in front and I was behind him taking a toilet break, so it was quite confronting. I think adventure is quite a broad term. I don’t look on adventuring as just something physical. It could also be adventuring with the mind.
We got Ava in 2011 when Dad was climbing to the top of Mt Everest without us. I think Mum hoped she would be a good distraction. She is a maltese-cross-papillon and very well-behaved. We like to take her to Lorne with us when we go on holidays and she loves the beach. One day we decided to go stand-up paddle boarding and when the boards were all lined up in the water, Ava jumped from one to the next. It was quite funny to watch.