Jade Hameister: Young Adventurer of the Year 2016 & 2018
To say Jade Hameister is an inspirational young Australian would be an understatement!
At just age 17, Jade is the youngest human in history to ski to the North Pole from anywhere outside of the Last Degree; the youngest woman to make the 500km crossing of the Greenland icecap; the youngest human to ski from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole (and she made the 600km journey via a new route); the youngest to ski to both Poles and the youngest to complete the Polar Hat Trick (all unsupported and unassisted). She has written a book, been in two National Geographic movies, given a TEDx Talk and been recognized as Australian Geographic Society Young Adventurer of the Year (twice)!
Today, 10th June 2019, Jade has also become the youngest Australian to be a recipient of the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
She is currently completing her Year 12 at school.
Jade is passionate about shifting the focus for young people about how they appear to what they can do and also about raising awareness around the impact of climate change on the Earth’s polar regions.
Jade, thankyou for taking the time to talk to the Happywhenfit audience!
Where did your drive and passion for adventure come from?
I grew up in an adventurous family. When I was young my Dad climbed the Seven Summits, including Mt Everest. As a family we would go on little adventures every year, like climbing Mt Kosciuszko when I was 6 and trekking to Everest Base Camp when I was 12. It was on my trek to Base Camp that I met an Icelandic lady who was aiming to climb to the top and the previous year she had skied to the South Pole solo and she got me thinking about what might be possible with my own adventures. No dream is too crazy in our house so when I told Dad what I wanted to do, he was like, sure, let’s look into it.
Tell us a bit about your expeditions so far and the life skills you have taken from each to continue being such a positive and healthy role model for youth.
I think the biggest life lesson I took from my expeditions which I have been keen to share with other young people is that it is much better to aim to be brave than to aim to be perfect. When our goal is perfection, we often don’t even end up starting or trying because we are too afraid of looking silly or falling short of that standard. When we aim to be brave, we give ourselves permission to make mistakes and accept failure and setbacks as part of the deal and we try anyway.
I didn’t even know how to ski when we I set my sights on the polar quest and had no experience in polar regions. I just committed to the process of learning those skills and slowly taking on bigger and bigger challenges with each step. I was not elegant on my skis, I was pretty slow, and I ended up in tears a few times, but I just kept putting one ski in front of the other.
How important do you think it is for young people to have positive role models and mentors in their lives to encourage, support and motivate them to achieve their potential?
It was so important for me. Aside from my Dad, I was fortunate to have the great polar adventurer, Eric Philips OAM with me on all my 3 expeditions and he was a very patient teacher – not just on the skills I needed but also on the polar environments and the beauty and uniqueness of these regions.
More than anyone though, my first “mentor” was Heath Jamieson – Heath was the assistant to the National geographic cameraperson on my Greenland and South Pole expeditions, so I spent around 70 days on the ice with him. Heath is an ex-Special Forces soldier who was wounded in Afghanistan and told he’d never walk again. We were all dragging sleds weighing between 80-100kg each, but Heath’s was even heavier as he had all the camera equipment in them and he did so over 1,100km on those 2 trips. When he sensed I was struggling or upset, he would ski up alongside me and talk. He shared his wisdom on how to get through tough times and suffering. I will be forever grateful to Heath.
What advice would you have for young people who may not have a strong network of positive role models and mentors, but don’t know where to start in building this support system?
I didn’t seek out mentors. They appeared when I set my mind to achieving my dreams. I think that’s the key. When you try and chase your dreams, the right people appear in your life to help make it happen.
The quests you have completed are no small tasks and have undoubtedly come with some big challenges that have tested your physical, mental and emotional strength. What do you think have been the most important skills, values and attitudes to keep you focused, resilient and passionate when working towards your goals?
Gratitude. I think that was the most important mindset of all. Gratitude for the privilege of being able to chase my dreams. Gratitude for the opportunity. Gratitude for the people around me supporting me and the sacrifices they had made. Gratitude for being able to experience first-hand these incredibly beautiful and fragile regions of our planet.
Who are some of your biggest positive influences and role models and why?
The Icelandic lady I met on my trek to Base Camp – Vilborg Arna Gissurardottir (“Villa”) was my inspiration for my expeditions. I became friends with another lady on that trek who gave me lots of guidance also as I was planning my polar journeys – Lydia Brady from NZ, who was the first woman to summit Everest without oxygen.
A big role model for me currently is Elon Musk, I love that he is applying entrepreneurship to trying to solve issues facing the planet and our species.
I love that you use your expeditions to raise awareness around climate change. What are your top 3 suggestions that people could take and start doing right now to reduce their contribution to the issue and make a difference?
My generation will inherit this great threat to the survival of the human species and it will be up to us to make the changes needed to ensure human life on Earth is sustainable, because as we live today, it is not.
We need to speak up – our voices matter, even though we can’t vote yet. This might even be just at home, letting your parents know that you care about this issue and asking them what action they are taking in their lifestyle to help.
We need to transition from “dirty” energy sources such as fossil fuels like coal to “clean” energy sources like solar and wind.
We need to reduce waste in every area of our life, including single use plastics, like straws, cups, bags and containers that food is sold in.
You have built a social profile that really stands for something and adds value to the online community in what you share. With social media being such a massive influence on the lives of young people, what would your advice to them be on how to use it in positive ways?
I am proud to be the Digital Thumbprint Ambassador for Optus. Part of my role with Optus is to help educate young people on exactly this question.
I would need a whole blog dedicated to this question to answer it properly – maybe we can do that after I finish my final exams later this year?
The key is for all young people to encourage each other to create a positive digital world by promoting:
I believe all people have the potential to do amazing things and make a positive difference in our World. What would your message be to the young people of today who may not yet have found their outlet for sharing what matters to them in a way that can add value to themselves and others or who are afraid to try?
Don’t stress. I have no idea what I want to do with my life. I definitely overthink everything and it wastes so much energy.
The biggest piece of advice I could give on exploring our potential is to look up from our screens and appreciate what we have in the real world. Try lots of different activities. Don’t be afraid to look silly. Search for things that light your fire and when you find them, fuel that fire until it becomes a raging firestorm.
What future adventures are on the horizon for Jade Hameister?
I am focused on trying to achieve a decent score in my Year 12 so I can get into a good business-related University degree next year.
I want to keep exploring and doing adventures in the future.
I am interested in how I can make a positive impact on our world through entrepreneurship and starting my own business. I don’t know how yet, but I am passionate about learning how.
Thankyou Jade for sharing your incredibly inspirational story so far with us. I am excited to see what future adventures are in store for you and the positive impact you will continue to have on empowering strong women and raising awareness around climate change.
To continue following Jade’s journey, check out her Instagram account @jadehameister