It seems no challenge is too great for young Toowoomba adventurer Alyssa Azar (18) as she prepares for her return to Everest in 2015.
Alyssa has recently returned from Mount Everest, having reached Base Camp in Nepal when a devastating avalanche claimed the lives of 16 Sherpas on April 18, the highest recorded number of deaths on the mountain in a single incident. A dispute between a group of Maoist Sherpas and the Nepalese government resulted in the decision to cease all climbing operations for the rest of this year. Alyssa had been doing daily climbs on surrounding peaks at the time to prepare for her summit climb. Respectful of the decision, Alyssa has returned home but is more determined than ever to complete the climb in 2015, and has already resumed training. She plans to return to Nepal to climb Mt Ama Dablam later this year, and will also do two Kokoda trips for fundraising and to maintain fitness.
Alyssa is keen to share the insights of her experiences and is writing a book about her adventures, which is due for publication next year. “I don’t believe anyone is ‘just born’ to be a success,” Alyssa explains. “It takes courage, hard work, persistence, dedication and discipline. I hope through all my work I can inspire and encourage other young people and people in general to get out and live their dreams and that nothing is ever impossible.” Alyssa’s passion for adventure started at just five years of age when she began trekking local trails with her father and fellow adventurer Glenn Azar. It was after joining him on an expedition as an eight-year old and becoming the youngest person to complete the Kokoda Track in 2005 that Alyssa was first featured in Highlife magazine.
At the time, the young Alyssa spoke humbly of her outstanding accomplishment: “It looked cool and a challenge and I like a challenge.” Alyssa now reflects on her Kokoda experience as a character-defining event. “It taught me to have dreams, set goals and do whatever it takes to achieve them.” Alyssa achieved more goals with Glenn by her side, including her first climb to Mount Everest Base Camp at 10 years old, Australia’s 10 highest peaks during her first year of high school, and Mount Kilimanjaro when she was only 14. It was after Kilimanjaro that the idea of reaching the summit of Mount Everest transformed into her next big goal.
Three years of preparations to become the youngest Australian to conquer Everest included Alyssa climbing Mount Cook in New Zealand, Mount Manaslu in the Himalayas and Mount Aconcagua in the Andes. She also utilised different altitude gas masks and was pack walking, running and doing tyre drags in the bush trails around home in the months prior to leaving on her expedition to Everest at the end of March this year.
To find out more about Alyssa and her Mount Everest adventure, visit www.alyssaazar.com.au
Words by Deborah Disney Images by Alyssa Azar