Marek Kaminski and the disabled Jasiek Mela reached the North and South Pole in one year.
In 2004 Marek Kaminski, a famous polar explorer, photographer and extreme sportsman decided to reach the North and the South Pole in the same year without any external support. He has already been to both Poles in 1995. The remarkable thing about the 2004 expedition was the fact that he was accompanied by Jasiek Mela (15 years old at that time) who was disabled after an accident where he had lost one leg and one arm.
The pre arrangements for this special expedition began in 2003. Jasiek Mela was working on his physical and mental condition for over six months. He was supported by team of specialists: a psychologist, a physiologist, an orthopedist, a surgeon and the coach of the Polish Paralympic national team. At the beginning the training took place in Wisła and the Olympic training center in Władysławowo, afterwards in Finse at the Hardangerjøkul glacier in Norway.
The journey began on April 4th, 2004. The acclimatization phase took place on the island of Spitzbergen for 9 days. Thereafter the expedition team was brought to the polar station Borneo, from where the actual march started. The team planned to march 7 kilometers a day and to reach the North Pole after 10 days. However after 7 days the weather conditions worsened and head wind occurred. The expedition was right about to be abandoned. Each night the tent where the expedition team was resting drifted with 0.5 km/h in southerly direction. “In the morning we woke up at the same place where we started hiking the day before”, Marek Kaminski said in an interview after the expedition. Nevertheless finally both reached the North Pole on April 24th, 2004 – one day later than originally assumed.
Jasiek Mela became the youngest and also the first disabled person to reach one of the Poles.
The second part of the expedition started on November, 30th 2004. On the way to the South Pole Kaminski and Mela had to cover a distance of 188 kilometers in 14 days. At some days during the Antarctic expedition the wind rose up to 100 km/h at a temperature of -40°C. Each day they had to march 10-15 kilometers. Every 6-8 hours they had a 30 minutes break. On December 31st, 2004, at 3:47 CET, only 8 months after reaching the North Pole, Kaminski and Mela also reached the South Pole. It was a great success but also a birthday present for Jasiek who had turned 16 the previous day.
Jasiek became the youngest polar explorer and the first disabled person who made it both Poles within the same year. Media from many countries reported about this expedition which gave hope to many disabled people and enabled them to come back to normal life after being in a difficult situation.
During both expeditions Marek Kaminski and Jasiek Mela used freeze-dried meals prepared by LYOFOOD.