A mountaineering expert believes 19-year-old Brisbane climber Alyssa Azar has just one opportunity – today – to become the youngest Australian to conquer Everest, with heavy snow forecast over the next few days.Due to her limited oxygen supply, if there is any delay in Ms Azar’s climb, she probably won’t get another chance to reach the summit soon.
“She’s on her push right now and if she makes it and comes down then everything is great, but if she has to turn around there’s probably no second chance for her [this visit],” mountaineering expert and Everest blogger Alan Arnette said.
It is Ms Azar’s third trip to Nepal to tackle Everest. She had hoped to reach the summit in 2014 and 2015, but an avalanche and then the Nepal earthquake – featured in the video above – closed the mountain on those occasions.
Adventure has been a major part of Ms Azar’s life since she was eight, when she completed her first challenge, crossing the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea.
Since her first achievement Ms Azar completed treks such as Everest Base Camp, Kokoda, Mount Kosciuszko, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Aussie 10 – the highest peaks in Australia.
After completing Kilimanjaro in 2011, Ms Azar undertook a mountaineering course in New Zealand.
On top of her impressive trekking record, she climbed in South America and Nepal on various expeditions to different peaks including Ama Dablam, Aconcagua, Manaslu and two Everest Expeditions.
Mr Azar hopes it’s a case of third time lucky for his daughter to become the youngest Australian to climb the world’s highest mountain.
“It’s been many years in the making and a lot of work, but it all comes down to this one week,” Mr Azar said.
Ms Azar made her way to base camp four in good weather on Friday and is planning her summit attempt on Saturday.
Mr Arnette said about 70 climbers are trying to reach the summit in good conditions.
“The conditions are actually pretty good, it’s a little warmer than it has been over the last several years, but it’s also a little windier so that’s the big concern right now,” Mr Arnette said.
“The wind can cause frostbite, there have been several people who have got frostbite over the last week or so on the side Alyssa is going on.”
Mr Arnette said he estimated the success rate for those climbers attempting to conquer Everest at 80 per cent, but hadn’t heard anything specifically on Ms Azar’s progress.
The climb up to the summit from camp four can take between eight and 12 hours.
A typhoon forming near India had threatened the expedition, but that was no longer a concern.
Mr Arnette said there had been a death on the mountain in the past few days.
“There was a Sherpa who was fixing the ropes up to the adjacent peak to Everest called Lhotse, they should be clipped into a safety line but apparently this individual was not.
“He was with a team of seven other Sherpas and they were climbing with a team of seven other people from the Indian Army.
“Unfortunately he slipped on the ice leading up to the fourth biggest mountain in the world and … fell close to 2000 metres … to his death.”