Alyssa Azar Everest 2016
Armed with unwavering determination, Queensland teenager
Alyssa Azar has become the youngest Australian to reach the Summit of Mount Everest! After being stopped by natural disasters two years in a row, Alyssa returned this year for her third attempt.
Alyssa's father Glenn Azar was trekking the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea when he received the news that Alyssa had made it. It took three tries before Alyssa's satellite call finally went through and Glenn heard the words "Yes, I summited" before the line cut out.
"I couldn't sleep that night on the Kokoda Trail because I was so excited and overwhelmed by everything I've seen her put herself through. It was pretty emotional sitting in my tent on my own thinking about her on the top of that mountain."
The head Sherpa in Alyssa's group said she was strong and fast on the mountain. Although bad weather threatened to close Mount Everest just days before she was supposed to summit, the conditions cleared and the group was able to push for the top.
The last thing Alyssa said to her father before beginning the summit was "The next 5 days are going to be the toughest of my life and if anything happens I want you to know that this is what I wanted to do."
By the time she had safely made it back down to Camp 2 from the top of Mount Everest, Alyssa still couldn't believe she had made it. She said it felt surreal and hasn't quite come to grips with the fact she reached the top.
Being the youngest Australian to reach the summit of Mount Everest has been something the determined adventurer has focused on, dreamed about and worked towards for years.
In 2014 Alyssa was at base camp when an avalanche struck the Khumbu Icefall and killed 16 Sherpas. In April 2015, she was in Nepal for her second attempt when the Nepal earthquake struck killing 3,218 people. These terrifying disasters didn't deter Alyssa. In the year that followed, she continued to train with unrelenting focus until she finally completed her dream.
Glenn has seen the tough journey Alyssa has put herself through to climb the highest mountain in the world.
"I'm relieved because I've watched this girl put herself through so much physical and mental training. She spent time training with Special Forces soldiers and commandos – she really left no stone unturned."
After seeing her unrelenting focus, it's no surprise that Alyssa is showing no signs of slowing down. Climbing the 7 Summits and trekking the North and South Poles are just a couple of expeditions on her to do list in the future.
"A big goal for her is to try to inspire other young Australians to chase dreams and not be held back by thoughts and opinions of other people if you really want something," Glenn said.
A huge source of inspiration for Alyssa has been her brother Christian. She took his photo to leave on the summit as a gesture of how much he has meant to her throughout her journey.
Christian is intellectually disabled and has always motivated Alyssa to live life to the fullest because she understands that she has the ability and opportunity to do things he won't be able to do.
"As parents it's pretty special that it is her crowning moment and she took the time to think of her little brother," Glenn said.
Before she left, we caught up with the keen adventurer to talk about what it takes to climb the world's highest mountain. See the interview below.