What Inspires Inspirational Women?

by Chris Hartley - Mountain Designs

What Inspires Inspirational Women?

The 8th of March marks International Women's Day and to recognise the occasion, we're celebrating those Australian women who are getting outdoors and inspiring others through adventure: meet Alyssa Azar, mountaineer, and the youngest woman in the world to summit the great Mount Everest from both north and south sides; Madison Younger, who has taken to life on the road and is spending the next two years exploring every corner of the globe; and Kim Beckinsale, adventure racing and multisport athlete, taking everything in her adventure racing path at full speed.

 

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What Inspires Inspirational Women

(Image courtesy of Alyssa & Glenn Azar)

Who

Alyssa Azar - Mountaineer

Instagram @alyssaazar

 

Inspirational Adventure

Having been an avid adventurer since the age of 8 when she first trekked Kokoda, Alyssa's list of achievements is as epic as you'd expect. She's the youngest Australian to climb Mount Everest, having reached the 8,848-metre summit in 2016 as a 19-year-old. Two years later, she completed the trek to the top of the world again, becoming the only woman in the world to do so from both the north and south sides. Among many others, she's conquered Elbrus, Kilimanjaro, Ama Dablam, Aconcagua, Manaslu, and Australia's own Kosciuszko. When she's not halfway up a mountain, she's helping her father Glenn with their adventure travel group, Adventure Professionals.

 

Quick 10 Q&A

What do you love about the outdoors?

I love the freedom of the outdoors more than anything else. It's refreshing to get into the outdoors and enjoy the freedom of adventure. The outdoor environment makes me feel grounded and more connected to myself.

 

What do you consider your most amazing experience in the outdoors?

It's hard to choose which one! Any time I've climbed at 8,000m and above I always marvel at the environments I get to climb in, being small amongst the Himalayan giants and getting to experience the freedom of being on these big mountains. Up there for me as my most amazing experience was trekking in Nepal in 2018. I lead a trek to Everest Base Camp in November 2018 with a group of Australian clients. I loved trekking in Nepal again after having previously climbed Everest.

In 2018 Alyssa conquered Mount Everest for the second time, a historic achievement that made her the first woman in the world to successfully summit from both the north and south sides. (Footage courtesy of Alyssa & Glenn Azar)

Who or what inspired you to climb mountains?

There have been a few influences that inspired me. I was active as a child, loved sport and got into hiking our local trails early in life and took to it straight away. I often heard stories from people around me who had crossed the Kokoda Track and I became fascinated with it. Initially my Dad was a huge influence - he has lived an adventurous life and I wanted to do something like that someday too. He would take clients across the Kokoda Track up to 13 times a year and it seemed an exciting and interesting life to me.

I also remember early on - around the age of 6 or 7 - I was in training for my first crossing of the Kokoda Track when we went into a Mountain Designs store in Brisbane. Seeing all of the elite and famous Australian mountaineers on the walls and their history and the mountains they'd climbed, it left an impression on me and I wanted to be like them one day. A moment in my life that inspired me to get into mountain climbing was when we were on Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2011. I successfully summitted Kilimanjaro and when I was hiking up the mountain, I realised how much I loved being in the mountains and at high altitude.

What do you consider your most remarkable achievement?

My first successful summit of Everest in 2016 when I became the youngest Australian to ever summit Mt. Everest. I've completed many other climbs but that one will always be noteworthy and special to me. It took a lot of years of hard work to get to that level and to perform at that level.

What Inspires Inspirational Women
What Inspires Inspirational Women

Alyssa on her first trek of Kokoda in 2005 as an 8-year-old (left), and standing atop Kilimanjaro with her Dad and former Australian Army serviceman, Glenn (right). (Images courtesy of Alyssa & Glenn Azar)

What's the toughest/hardest challenge you've faced on the mountains?

I think the biggest challenge is always your own mind and self-doubt. It's inevitable when facing such big challenges that there will be moments of wondering whether you're up to it. I remember a particularly challenging day on Everest where we'd been climbing for 12 hours straight and at least four of those I was in the red zone mentally, having to fight for every step. It's a complete mental game at that point but if you believe in yourself and your ability to overcome those obstacles, you will.

What's the greatest lesson adventure has taught you?

Resilience. Adventure has given me the chance to see how strong I am, by confronting me with physical and mental challenges. A saying I love is 'the mountain doesn't care' - nature does what it does, and I am forced to adapt and to learn from it and it's taught me a lot about dealing with challenges.

What Inspires Inspirational Women

Alyssa putting in the hard yards because when you're up against it, 'the mountain doesn't care'. (Image courtesy of Alyssa & Glenn Azar)

Any motto or creed to live by?

Mine is simple - I always tell myself: 'You've got this'.

 

Why should we all get outdoors?

There are many great benefits and I think everyone should get outdoors for the physical challenge but also for the clarity and enjoyment. No matter who you are, it is refreshing and a great chance to connect with yourself and your own mind. Often we get incredibly busy and have so much going on, that finding the time and space can be difficult. But even a short hike or run in the outdoors is a great way to feel balanced and happy.

 

What's next on your adventure bucket list?

I am planning an expedition now, but I am not too sure when the dates will be locked in. It will be in the next 12-18 months. My expeditions are focused on 8,000m peaks in the Himalayas.

 

What's your best tip for those taking on their own adventure?

Planning and preparation go a long way. Even though it is adventure, if you make sure you train well physically, plan your logistics out, and make sure you have the good quality gear that you need, then you will get to enjoy your adventure much more when the time comes.


 


What Inspires Inspirational Women

(Image courtesy of Madison Younger & Harrison Candlin)

Who

Madison Younger - Traveller

Instagram @madison.younger @harrisoncandlin

 

Inspirational Adventure

Madison is currently living the life many of us dream about - she recently took to the road to spend the next two years travelling the world with her partner, professional photographer Harrison Candlin. Together they are traversing the globe and their adventures have so far taken them to many beautiful places in the USA, Canada and New Zealand. Leaving behind the comforts of home can take some courage but the incredible experiences and awesome sights from a life of adventure makes the choice more than worth it for the 22-year-old.

 

Quick 10 Q&A

What do you love about the outdoors?

I love the way the fresh air clears my mind, that you can gain new perspectives and see new details everywhere you look. I love that you can learn so much from nature and that you can escape the day-to-day grind! It's amazing to me that you can be within 30 minutes of a big town or a popular tourist location yet find a short walking track and feel like the only person in the world. For me, it's the best way to really experience a place. Also, it's a bonus that all of it costs next to nothing - only a little research, some fuel and a pair of shoes to make amazing memories for yourself or with a group of friends.

 

What do you consider your most amazing experience in the outdoors?

For me it's always a highlight when we get to see some wildlife while out on a walk. My most memorable wildlife moment so far was while we were in California this past summer. We were hiking near Lake Tahoe and came across a black bear and its three little cubs, luckily they were quite a distance away from us. We were able to watch them for ages, playing together and climbing trees, following their mum and trying to find food. I think it was definitely a once in a lifetime thing to see in the wild so I'm so grateful for experiences like that!

What Inspires Inspirational Women

Madison's travels are taking her to some incredible places; here she is in the Sierra Nevada in the western USA. (Image courtesy of Madison Younger & Harrison Candlin)

Who or what inspired you to travel the world?

My desire to travel originally came from my parents. In their 20s they spent years travelling and working around the world - they have so many photo albums that I loved to flick through when I was a teen. Harrison has also been a huge inspiration, we started travelling together early in our relationship and since then we have had so many adventures. Together we have learnt that slow travel and specifically in nature is our favourite.

 

What do you consider your most noteworthy achievement?

Definitely completing the hikes! Harrison is far more motivated for the long, hard hikes than I am but that has pushed me to do some truly incredible hikes. When we get to the destination, and then again when we make it back to the car, it is always a proud moment, knowing that I made it and that it was worth it - another hike to add to the memory banks.

What Inspires Inspirational Women
What Inspires Inspirational Women
What Inspires Inspirational Women
What Inspires Inspirational Women

From giant sequoia trees to mountain peaks above 14,000 feet; Madison says the great outdoors has emphasised her little place in the universe and brought new perspectives to her life. (Image courtesy of Madison Younger & Harrison Candlin)

What's the toughest/hardest challenge you've faced on the road?

For the most part I have loved living on the road, making last-minute plans and never knowing where you will end up for the night. It forced me to get comfortable with having no plans, and going with the flow. But although minor, the challenges are always there, whether it's not getting to shower for five days, not having running water, or the weather turning and making for a VERY cold night.

 

What's the greatest lesson adventure has taught you?

As I said earlier, travel has taught me to go with the flow more and eventually everything will work out. When something doesn't go to plan it is easy to get caught up and disappointed, but I've learnt that it's best to accept it and move on so that one bad experience doesn't taint the whole trip.

What Inspires Inspirational Women
What Inspires Inspirational Women

Getting outdoors and seeing the world is helping Madison and her partner Harrison learn to be present and go with the flow. (Image courtesy of Madison Younger & Harrison Candlin)

Any motto or creed to live by?

I don't really have a motto to live by but at this point in my life I am really trying to focus on enjoying every moment and being grateful for the opportunity and freedom I have to travel the way I do.

 

Why should we all get outdoors?

Everyone needs to get outdoors more, for all the reasons I said earlier!

 

What's next on your adventure bucket list?

I never know what's next for me but I'm really hoping to get back to Asia and Europe soon! They are both places I really want to explore and experience more of.

 

What's your best tip for those taking on their own adventure?

My best tip for someone planning an adventure or trip is to do it with someone you really enjoy being with. Enjoying travel is so dependent on being with people that you get along with! I'm so lucky to have people that share similar travel goals as me.


 


What Inspires Inspirational Women

(Image courtesy of Rogue Adventures)

Who

Kim Beckinsale - Adventure Racer

Instagram @triadventurekim

 

Inspirational Adventure

Kim Beckinsale knows a bit about the outdoors. She has been involved in adventure racing and multisport since 2003, following numerous years of participation in other endurance-style events (marathons, ironman triathlon, mountain running, cycling, and open-water swimming). She has won 4 age group World Championships in 4 different multisport events - Olympic Distance Triathlon 2003, Xterra Triathlon 2013, ITU Cross Triathlon 2016 and the World Multisport Championships NZ Coast to Coast 2018. Following a very successful number of years racing for Mountain Designs in the Premier Mixed Category in adventure racing, Kim now competes with the all-female Mountain Designs Wild Women adventure racing team. She is the co-founder of Tri Adventure and has been teaching Physical Education for over 30 years, putting her heart and soul into encouraging others to lead fit, healthy and active lifestyles through sport and physical activity.

 

Quick Q&A

What do you love about the outdoors?

Out in nature there is nowhere to hide, you just have to cope with whatever mother nature throws at you. So spending time in the outdoors makes you more resilient and able to cope with the stressors of life. I love the outdoors not only because nature is beautiful and you see nature at its best, but because it has a way of toughening you up and making you stronger, fitter and just a better person!

 

What do you consider your most amazing experience in the outdoors?

Oooh, now that is a very tough question to answer when you do adventure racing as there are always amazing experiences - but probably the one that I found most amazing was my first-ever Keen Adventure Race, a 5-day stage race in and around the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. I raced with a young, fit American from Colorado (the son of one of the pioneers of adventure racing). I was way outside of my comfort zone, especially when I realised I was the most experienced ocean paddler between us. We faced the great Southern Ocean swells in our double kayak - nearly drowned on several occasions - but lived to tell the tale and went on to complete every race in that series. It was certainly an amazing and life-changing experience.

What Inspires Inspirational Women
What Inspires Inspirational Women
What Inspires Inspirational Women

Kim has been involved in adventure racing and multisport since 2003, and has won four age group World Championships events. (Images from left to right, courtesy of Mark Webber Challenge (1 & 2), and Mike Page/Two Cats Photography)

Who or what inspired you to get into adventure racing?

Narelle Ash, a fellow teacher and triathlete at the time, was a Queensland School Sport Team Manager with me and had been talking about Rogaines and these races where you use a map and compass. I was just getting into mountain biking and had taught orienteering and paddling, so I thought, why not give it a go? So, my first race was a solo event at Coochin Creek on the Sunshine Coast and I loved it!

 

What do you consider your most remarkable achievement in the sport?

Adventure racing is a team event so there are many variables that can impact on success, despite whether you as an individual are in the best form of your life or not. I think my most notable achievement in adventure racing was winning the XPD South Australia, an Adventure Racing World Series event with Team Mountain Designs in 2013.

 

What's the toughest/hardest challenge you've faced while racing?

I have had a bit of a fear of white water since I got pinned against a tree in 2000 when preparing for the Gloucester Mountain Man paddle. To make matters worse I then dislocated my shoulder when training for Coast to Coast in 2009, so in my first XPD in 2011 we were faced with swimming down through some rapids, I just had to take the plunge. One of my team mates at the time said he was a non-swimmer, so I thought....well at least I could swim, so I went into rescue mode which took away my fears!

What Inspires Inspirational Women

Coping with the unpredictability of Mother Nature, which builds resilience and adaptability, draws Kim to the outdoors. (Image courtesy of Mark Webber Challenge)

What's the greatest lesson adventure has taught you?

Life is precious...enjoy every day and that you are actually capable of way more than you would have ever conceived possible, you just have to take that step!

 

Any motto or creed to live by?

Be the best you can be and just be a good person.

What Inspires Inspirational Women

Kim with members of her all-female Mountain Designs Wild Women adventure racing team. (Image courtesy of Geocentric Outdoors)

Photo Credits

Alyssa Azar images supplied by Alyssa & Glenn Azar

 

Madison Younger images supplied by Harrison Candlin & Madison Younger

 

Kim Beckinsale images supplied by:

GODZone Adventure

Rogue Adventures

Mark Webber Challenge

Mike Page/Two Cats Photography

Geocentric Outdoors

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