Aussie teen not fazed by Mount Everest avalanche


Australian teenager Alyssa Azar is determined to continue her climb of Everest despite the massive avalanche that has killed 12 people on the world's highest peak.

The 17-year-old is at her tent in Base Camp, only 50 metres away from where the bodies of the dead Nepalese sherpas are being ferried down by helicopter. Meanwhile, the rescue effort also goes on for other climbers trapped above the avalanche site.

But while she is shocked and saddened by the disaster, she says she will go on.

“I'm 100 per cent committed to going forward,” she said. “I understand the risks, but it's been my lifelong dream to climb Everest and I've been working towards this for the last 10 years.

“I don't want to say too much out of respect for the sherpas who died, but I'm going to go on.”

Miss Azar, from Toowoomba in Queensland, will be the world's youngest non-sherpa female to make it to the top if she is successful, and Australia's youngest ever Everest conqueror.

She is already the world's youngest person to complete the Kokoda Track – which she did at age eight – and she trekked all the way to Everest Base Camp for the first time when she was 10 in -20c temperatures.

Having been on Everest's treacherous Khumbu Icefall just the day before the avalanche hit it, she has already considered the real possibility of dying in the attempt to reach the top.

Before she left, she said in an upcoming book about her life, The Girl Who Climbed Everest, “I would prefer to die on the side of a mountain at 20 than to limp through my life until I'm 80 hating what I do. People may think I have a death wish or I don't see the risks or don't think it'll ever happen. Maybe I do sometimes have a more casual attitude to danger but I am aware of my mortality.

“It's just that to me, the risk is something you have to accept if you're going to do things like climb Everest. And I'm ready to face that.”

Miss Azar left Australia on March 28 and trekked into Base Camp, in thick snow and ice, on April 9. On Monday, her team had their climbing equipment blessed by Buddhist monks ready for their acclimatising practice runs. She is hoping to attempt to summit at the beginning of May.

Her father Glenn Azar, waiting for news at home, says he naturally worries, but his daughter wanted to do this so much, and has trained so hard for it over a number of years, he knows she's as ready as possible.

"Even if I tried to stop her, I would never have been able,” Mr Azar said. “We all know what the dangers are, and you just hope the worst never happens.”

Alyssa Azar says she's not continuing for the fame or records. “Making the summit of Everest has been my dream for over 10 years now,” she says. “I'll be facing it one step at a time.”

This story Aussie teen not fazed by Mount Everest avalanche first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.