Queensland teenager Alyssa Azar has been welcomed home as a local hero today after becoming the youngest person to climb to the summit of Mount Everest, almost 9000m above sea level.
The 19-year-old touched down at Toowoomba Airport in a helicopter with her father Glenn this morning, after breaking the record previously held by 21-year-old Rex Pemberton in 2005.
The climb, which Ms Azar has said was “definitely as tough” as she expected, marked her third attempt.
“I remember thinking just get through the next few steps, get through the next few steps or get to the next anchor,” she said
“But I also felt surprisingly strong, especially on the last few days of climbing, just, I guess, being that close to the goal I felt really good.”
Ms Azar, who braved darkness and minus-40 degree temperatures, said she felt a “sense of relief” when she reached the summit at achieving her goal, but also a “sense of disbelief” that she had made it.
“At the same time you’ve still got to be focused,” she added.
“You’re technically halfway and you’ve got to get back down.”
The descent is also a dangerous trip. On May 20, Melbourne climber Maria Strydom, 34, was descending the mountain with her husband when she was overcome by altitude sickness and died.
Ms Azar earlier said she had passed Dr Strydom on the mountain between camp four and camp three and that the “tragic circumstances” were “a tough time” for everyone involved.
“‘Could we have done something?’ you think,” Ms Azar said.
“Giving her oxygen, or try to get her down to camp two for a rescue – you do have those thoughts.”