Alyssa Azar - The Full Story

My name is Alyssa Azar and I am a professional mountaineer, adventurer and climber. I am currently 15 years of age and will be 16 in November 2012. I was born in Townsville, Queensland and raised in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia.

I started adventure at the age of 5. I was a very energetic child and so every weekend, to burn some energy, I would go trekking with my Dad (also an adventurer) around the mountain range of Toowoomba, which is part of the Great Dividng Range in Australia.

Step by step my passion grew and I am at the point now where I don’t even remember life without climbing or adventure involved. Over the years I have crossed the Kokoda Track twice (the first time I was 8 and the second time I was 15), trekked to Everest Base Camp, climbed the Aussie 10 (the ten highest peaks in Australia - at the age of 12) and even climbed Mount Kilimanjaro at the age of 14.

Making friends on the Kokoda Trail, Age 8 (2005)

All of these adventures have helped define who I am and what I stand for. I am proud of what I have accomplished, but I know I am capable of so much more. This year in 2012, I will be away most of November and some of December as I begin my training to summit Mount Everest next year. Climbing Mount Everest will be a massive challenge in every single way and the amount of training and preparing I do before I attempt the summit will make a huge difference to me achieving this goal.

First I will fly to New Zealand to complete a climbing course before I summit New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mount Cook. I will then fly over to Nepal to once again trek in the Himalayas by heading up to Everest Base Camp.

Next year I will be learning all I can by spending time overseas with experienced mountaineers, picking up their tips and first hand knowledge of Mount Everest and the challenges I will face. Also, early in the year I will fly to Argentina to climb Mt Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas. After that, I will be flying back to Nepal to attempt the summit of Mount Manaslu (the eighth highest mountain in the world.)

If all of these events go to plan I will be able to attempt my dream of climbing Mount Everest and in the process become the youngest Australian to do so. I will also be within the first 100 Australians to climb the mountain.

Mount Everest Base Camp, Age 10 (2007)

Believe me when I say getting to where I am has not been an easy task. Besides the obvious physical and mental training involved, when I was in high school I did go through some bullying. Often people are scared to ask about it or are worried I may get upset. I don’t look at it that way anymore, I see it as something that made me stronger and made me grow as a person.

Bullying is not a fun experience, especially when you have done nothing to deserve it. I was/am a very independent and quiet person and often just preferred to do my own thing. I went to school to work hard and not to socialise. That’s just the way I am. For some reason a lot of people struggled with that.

For the first few years of being a teenager I had a hard time because I wasn’t like everyone else. I realised that was why I was being bullied. Other kids didn’t like the fact that I was different. I stood out and it made some of them feel a bit weird perhaps, although I can never truly understand their motives.

I lost my passion for what I loved around 12 years of age. This is something I thought would never happen. Although I did miss climbing,I wasn’t sure if I wanted that life of being in the media and travelling to climb. I told my Dad I didn’t want to go on adventures anymore and he asked me why, which made me think long and hard. I realised that it wasn’t the adventure, but the consequences of what that life entailed that was the problem. The media attention had made me more visible to people, and some of them were bullies who tried to upset me.

Then I climbed the ten highest peaks in Australia and after that I really knew that I didn’t want to give adventuring up. This was my passion and those who didn’t like it had to deal with it. I was not hurting or harming anybody by following my dreams, in fact I like to believe that sometimes I do the complete opposite, I show people what is possible (especially the younger generation.)

Right before I went to Mount Kilimanjaro I started feeling like me again. I was learning to accept that I was different. Now, as I prepare for Everest I have never been prouder to be unique and different. I now realise more than ever that being different is my best quality and without it I would be nothing. I would hate to be normal and have chosen to never try and fit in again. I try to get that message across to those who may be bullied themselves or even just struggling to find who they are as a person. High school and growing up has some downsides but it can also be a huge positive if you allow it to be.

Tips for teens from Alyssar:

  1. Set goals that excite you and continually work towards making them happen.
  2. Don’t get too caught up in the drama and gossip. That is wasted time that you will never get back and you will one day regret it!
  3. Use bullying as motivation to succeed. If people don’t believe in you then you have to prove them wrong (whilst doing what you love and what empowers you in the process.)
  4. Try not to follow the status quo. I have come to realise over the years that there is nothing exciting or rewarding about being just like everyone else. Trying to wear the same clothes, listen to the same music and act like someone else will get your nowhere and you will not be satisfied with your life that way.
  5. HEALTH! It may sounds strange but when you eat healthy and train hard you feel amazing and confident and that feeling spreads across into other areas of your life.
  6. Last but not least: Discover & Adventure. Whenever you get the chance to learn, travel or see something new it is wise to take that chance. Life is about experiences so get out of the house, off Facebook and have as many of them as possible.

At the highest peak in Africa, the summit of Mt Kiliminjaro, Age 14 (2011).