Jan Mela (born December 30, 1988 in Gdańsk) is a Polish explorer who, as a teenage double amputee, was the youngest person to reach the North Pole in 2004, and eight months later the South Pole. He created the Foundation "Poza horyzonty" ("Beyond the horizons").
Loss of limbs
The story began in 2002, when Jan, who comes from Malbork in Poland, was 13 years old. He was playing table tennis with some school friends when it suddenly started raining heavily. He sheltered from rain in an electrical transformer building in Malbork, where he received a 15,000 volt electric shock. The burns and tissue damage sustained meant surgeons had to amputate his left crus and right forearm.
As a member of a four-man expedition led by veteran Polish polar explorer Marek Kamiński called "Together to the Pole", Mela reached the North Pole on April 24, 2004 at the age of 15. After nine days of polar acclimatisation in Spitsbergen, Norway, the team began their 70 km trek on April 4, and received no outside assistance, relying solely on the supplies and gear they could pull on sleds.
Eight months later, Mela and Kamiński reached the South Pole in Antarctica on December 31, 2004 – a day after Mela's 16th birthday. On Christmas they ate typical Polish dishes like beetroot soup and they made a Christmas tree from snow.
- Janek Mela struggles for surviving Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine., Radio ORLA, September 22, 2006.
- Polish teenager conquers North Pole, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, April 26, 2004.
- Teen conquers Poles on one leg Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine., Deccan Herald, January 2, 2005.
- Reaching Their Goals, The Washington Post, January 20, 2005.
- Together to the North Pole, Destination Elsewhere Travel Magazine (photos of the expedition)
- Jan Mela's Foundation "Poza horyzonty" ("Outside the horizons")