Alyssa Azar - Climbing to the Top of the World | 180 Nutrition

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Alyssa Azar – Climbing to the Top of the World

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Stu: This week we welcome Alyssa Azar to the show. Alyssa began trekking in 2005 with her first challenge, crossing the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea. She then trekked in Nepal, completed treks such as Everest Base Camp and Kokoda numerous times, Mt Kosciuszko in Australia, the Aussie 10 (the 10 highest peaks in Australia), Mt Kilimanjaro.

In 2016 Alyssa returned for a third time and on the 21st May 2016 became the Youngest Australian to Summit Mount Everest.

She has since gone on and climbed again on Aconcagua as well as a summit of the highest mountain in Europe – Mt Elbrus in Russia and successfully completed a North Side Everest Expedition climbing from Tibet.

She is also now leading climbs on many of the Seven Summits in 2018 and 2019.

Audio Version

downloaditunesListen to Stitcher Questions we ask in this episode:

  • What drives you to want to achieve goals that appear to be so hard?
  • Tell us about your training routine leading up to a big climb.
  • What strategies to do you take to recover from a huge climb?

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Full Transcript

 Stu

00:03 Hey, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of the health sessions. It’s here that we connect with the world’s best experts in health, wellness and human performance in an attempt to cut through the confusion around what it actually takes to achieve a long lasting health. Now I’m sure that’s something that we all strive to have. I certainly do. Before we get into the show today, you might now know that we make products too. That’s right. We’re into whole food nutrition and have a range of super foods and natural supplements to help support your day. If you are curious, want to find out more, just jump over to our website. That is 180Nutrition.com.au and take a look.

00:41 Okay. Back to the show. This week, I’m excited to welcome Alyssa Azar. Alyssa was the youngest person to cross the Kokoda track as an 8 year old in 2005. And the youngest Australian to summit Mount Everest, of which she has now climbed twice. Unbelievable. In this interview, we discuss her diet, training and mindset used to get her to the top of the world and how she approaches goals of such a magnitude. I hope you enjoy this chat as much as I did as she’s a real inspiration who is truly following her dream. Over to Alyssa.

01:20 Hey guys, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and I am delighted to welcome Alyssa Azar to the show. Good morning Alyssa, how are you?

Alyssa

01:27 Good morning. I’m good.

Stu

01:29 Thank you so much for joining us Alyssa. And I’d love it if you could just tell our listeners that may not be familiar with who you are, a little bit about yourself please.

Alyssa

01:41 Yeah, so my name’s Alyssa Azar. I’m 21 from Brisbane, but essentially I’m a mountaineer. And so just recently summited Everest for the second time. So originally climbed it from the south side and just recently got back from climbing it from the north side in Tibet. But really, how I got started into that was quite young.

02:02 I got into trekking, and that kind of happened just being exposed to it through my dad. So pretty much since I was four or five years old, he was guiding people across the Kokoda track. That’s what he does for a living. And so I was kind of exposed to this world of adventure a little bit. But was always interested in the mountains and so I think I was always gonna sort of end up there at some point. But yeah, most of my weekends were out bush walking and I just loved it. And yeah, kind of harassed my dad to take me to Kokoda. I was obsessed with it. And yeah, he did. So I was eight years old when I first crossed the Kokoda track. And then from there, every few years we’d try and do another trip somewhere. And it was then, Everest base camp, Kilimanjaro, and it was often Kilimanjaro that I realized Everest had always been this thing in the back of my mind. And I’m gonna go for it and set the goal and then I knew, it’s gonna be a few years away, but yeah started preparing for it and that’s essentially been my life I guess. For the last few years now.

Stu

03:07 Fantastic. You know what? I … well probably five years ago, I had this strange obsession with Mount Everest and I think National Geographic pulled a whole edition out just on Everest and big pull out map. And I started reading all the books and watching the movies and the documentaries and just realized that, that is no mean feat. People die every year as you well know. And I’m just intrigued as to … this is a goal of yours to climb the highest peak in the world. And you did so at an early age as well, when most of us, well most teenagers I would imagine would strive for things like nice holiday, get a nice car. What drives you to want to achieve a goal that could be fatal?

Alyssa

04:05 Yeah. I think certainly it being the highest mountain in the world had an awe for me as it does for a lot of climbers quite young. But I think around the time I did Kokoda, I started to get this understanding of, I guess growth and how that happens. And I think it’s very much the process that I became addicted to of setting a goal or dream and you sort of start out like, aw, can I achieve this? It seems crazy. And then going through the process of training and improving and you kind of grow into it I guess. And so I think these big challenges like Everest, it’s more about who you have to become to achieve it and growing through that process. I think that’s what it was about for me. Can I do this thing that I love at the highest level? And yeah, that question of, can I do this, was certainly a big driver of that as well.

Stu

04:54 My word. That’s amazing. We give health talks and we talk about defining your goals. And we actually use Everest as an example. And we say, look, if you want to climb Everest, you don’t start by climbing Everest. You might start by walking around the block. But that is … yeah, that’s an amazing goal and I’m quite stunned actually that I’m speaking to somebody that’s literally stepped on the roof top of the world twice.

Alyssa

05:22 Yeah.

Stu

05:22 Unbelievable. So what are the prerequisites to be able to even apply to summit Everest? Because I know that there are lots of different outfits that you can join up with. And I even watched a doco last night on Netflix about a Canadian lady who, she didn’t have a great deal of experience, but she had a lot of drive and determination. She didn’t make it. She parishes on Everest. But is there, in your minds eye, do you need to have ticked off the big peaks before you even are considered?

Alyssa

05:59 Yeah. It does depend on the company you’re climbing with. There’s no real government regulation around that. As long as you pay your expedition fee, to them, that’s whatever. But it is up to each of the expedition guides. And the company that I climbed with both times on Everest, they do set a certain standard. So you know your climbing with people who have a certain level of experience. So definitely for me, the technical side of it, just learning how to fiddle your gear properly, the crampons. Learning how to ascent ropes and all of that. So the first thing I did when I knew I wanted to go to Everest, was I went to New Zealand and did a climbing course where they teach you everything from ice climbing and [inaudible 00:06:40] rescue and all these advanced mountaineering skills. And so yeah, just having that under my belt, I think was really important. So I think at least a technical course. Experience at altitude, maybe a 7,000 and possibly 8,000 meter peak. But at least having been to 7,000 meters. Just understanding how your body feels at that altitude. And I think that was really helpful.

07:03 But yeah, the company I climbed with also, set the standard on the mountain. It wasn’t ridiculous, but you had a rough time frame of where you should be and when. How long it should take to get to the next camp. So that when you’re up higher on the mountain, you’ve got people who you know can move fast enough to be up there. But yeah, that was really important to me. Just making sure I chose a company who you knew were gonna be climbing with good climbers. And it’s not about having 10, 20 years experience. It’s not the most technical climbing. But just being proficient at that and knowing how to do a lot of it yourself. You do see a really interesting range on Everest unlike anywhere else. ‘Cause it attracts so many climbers from around the world. You get people who can’t put their crampons on and really need a big operation and then right through to elite climbers. So you’re kind of in this hot pot of just everyone in base camp.

Stu

07:54 Unbelievable. And what about training? So physical training. I mean, how … I guess there are different facets to it. So you’ve got all of, your high altitude stuff which you’re gonna need to try and plug into.

Alyssa

07:54 Yes.

Stu

08:09 But what about gym work? What kind of stuff would you do?

Alyssa

08:13 Yeah, so that was a large part of my training as well. Just making sure I had the fitness to back up what I was trying to do. So throughout the process, I might have gotten to climb every six to eight months. So there’s big chunks of time in between. So that’s when I would work on my fitness. And there’s definitely gym work. But it was a lot of pack walking. Getting out on the hills with a pack on, ’cause that’s what I’d be doing on the mountain. And then other stuff as well like cardio, basic running. And yeah, but then a lot of gym work. And that was typically sort of five, six days a week I’d do that. And that certainly helped keep me at the level I needed to be for the expeditions as well.
Stu: 08:52 And so in terms of timing, the ascent of Everest, run us through what it actually takes in terms of, how long does it take to, when you’re just starting all the way to ascent and then you’re back down again?

09:08 Yeah, so an Everest expedition takes two months. The reason it takes that amount of time, is because of the altitude. So we can’t just go up and climb. We need to give our bodies time to adapt to the lower levels of oxygen. So it starts is we fly into a little village called Lukla, which is kind of the starting point. And from there, it’s a 10 day trek just to get to the base camp. And that’s kind of our home away from home for the next two months or whatever. And so once we’re there, we then begin what’s called rotations. So we’ll go up to camp one, spend the night, and come back down. Rest a few days. And then you go again, but a little bit higher. And then a little bit higher. Once you do that about three times, make it up to sort of 7,000 meters, and then you come back down to base camp. And so that process takes a few weeks in and of itself. And then once you’re acclimatized, you’ll sit in base camp for a week, watch your weather windows and try to pick your summit day. And once you are acclimatized, it’s about a week to summit and get back down. But it’s just a process to get your body ready for that.

Stu

10:09 Right. Okay. And what’s base camp like? Paint the picture. ‘Cause I’ve seen a few movies, I’ve seen all of the Hollywood movies as well and it just shows it, it’s like this crazy little Nepalese town or village up in the mountains.

Alyssa

10:23 It is. It’s like a village in and of itself yeah. So you trek into base camp and you’re on this glacier, which is just [inaudible 00:10:30] and rocks. And it actually shifts and changes throughout the season as well. But yeah, you’ve got all the different camps. And so it’s just like a little village of tents all along this glacier at the base of the mountain.

Stu

10:42 Wow. Crazy. So during the climb, I’m intrigued how you eat. In terms of, what do you eat? How do you get around it? ‘Cause I would imagine if you’re … you’re going for broke, you’re in the death zone, you’re probably not gonna stop and get out your sandwiches and put the kettle on, have a cup of tea.

Alyssa

11:04 No. Yeah, when you’re climbing, you’re pretty much on the go constantly. So when you’re in camps up higher, you will have dehydrated meals. And will just pour hot water into those. And that’s our dinner. But yeah, while you’re climbing, it’s snacks, energy gels, just stuff you can have on the go. And you’re just kind of consistently having that as you climb to try and keep your energy up. But it’s got to be stuff that’s lightweight. That’ we’re carrying. But yeah, something that’s just high calorie but yeah, something small that we can just continue to eat throughout the time that we’re moving.

Stu

11:42 Right. Okay. And similar with drink is it? ‘Cause I always wondered, you see lots of people … or in the movies or in the documentaries as well, you see people and they’re struggling for water. And you think, well there’s just ice everywhere, just shovel it into your mouth and you’ll be good to go. Is that not the case?

Alyssa

12:00 Yeah. So no. So what we actually have to do is we take a jet boil, and when you get into each camp, you’re boiling snow and that’s your water. But we only do it in the camps and yeah, you’ve got to restock and it takes a few hours to get enough water to eat as well as drink. But yeah, essentially that’s … you’ve got sort of a liter, two liters for your day and yeah, but as you’re trying a summit, you kind of got to remind yourself to drink water. It’s easy in a cold environment to think not to. But you’re sweating a lot because you’re climbing. Yeah. So you gotta remind yourself definitely to keep drinking.

Stu

12:34 Okay. And how is your mindset? So I guess, a lot of us have been exposed to conditions where we do something really big. It might be like a huge walk or a hike or it could be a cross fit gym session that lasts for an hour. And you just think, “Oh, I’ve had enough of this. I’m over it.”

Alyssa

12:58 Yep.

Stu

13:00 How was your mindset, and was there any part of this- How was your mindset and was there any part of this summit attempt, either one of them that you just thought I’m just so over this.

Alyssa

13:09 You know what there’s always sort of one or two days where you just are fed up with it. That is pretty normal. You know mindset changes. I always go into it pretty confident knowing I’ve done the work, but I also know I’m gonna have those days. Just being mentally prepared for them is part of it. Be willing to grind that out for sure. You have moments of self doubt as well. Even having summited before, I sort of remember looking up at Everest going like, “Wow, we’re gonna be climbing that. We’re gonna be trying to summit in like four days.” It’s easy to say what have I got myself into.

13:40 But there was definitely I found on my first summit in 2016 probably the hardest day I had was we were climbing the second time from base camp straight to camp two which is a really tough 12 hours. Toward the sort of last three hours it becomes a real mental grind and it’s kind of just one foot in front of the other or just focus on the next section. Just get through the next section and the next one and don’t look too far ahead. Just try and be really in the moment. That kind of helps get me through those times.

14:11 Yeah, but then this most recent summit same thing. Going from base camp to advance base camp. We did that in one push as well. Just the way the mountain’s laid out you got some pretty tough climbs on the North side and 25 kilometers at altitude so you certainly feel that. Same thing it just becomes a mental grind where you just have to shift your mental focus to all right just get to there and keep working your way through it and just be willing to push through it.

Stu

14:11 I guess small steps, just taking it one step at a time.

Alyssa

14:44 Yeah. I just view it as everything that happens in that two month on the expedition it’s just part of the process. I’m certainly grateful for the good times and the ones that are a bit tougher because you get something out of both and I think if you can just have that perspective that this isn’t necessarily bad, it is tough, but I’m still getting a lot out of this I think helps keep my perspective on why I’m doing it for sure.

Stu

15:08 The group that you’re with. How many people typically climb in a summit attempt?
Alyssa: 15:14 Yeah. It really depends. I found consistently with my groups anywhere from 10 to 15 is the average. In 2016, we had about 13 climbers. But then recently the North side of Everest is a lot more remote and it gets a lot less climbers so we have three people including me in our team so myself and two other French climbers. You don’t always really know what you’re gonna get. It’s pretty interesting.

15:42 Wow. Is everybody really revved up and amped up and like you got great comradery or do you find that you’ve got lots of different types of personalities, are you gunning for each other?

Alyssa

15:58 Yeah, kind of I find it’s different per expedition. I remember here in 2016 we had all these different nationalities and so you get a bit of riff between certain people and you don’t know each other that well and then you’re living and climbing together for the next two months. But, I think the fact that you’ve got a common goal certainly overrides a lot of that. Definitely try to support each other where you can as well. I’ve found that even more so with this most recent one being such a small team we really did have to work together and yeah, we got along really well right from the start. Everyone was quite strong and that certainly helped.

Stu

16:37 Fantastic. I’m also intrigued as to the media paints a picture of Everest as, or in recent times almost streamed with litter and discarded equipment and even bodies as well. Is that how it is?

Alyssa

17:00 I think it’s massively exaggerated. I said to someone recently with the litter that hasn’t been my experience, but I know over the last few years they’ve made a really concerted effort like you have to bring a certain amount of weight down per climber so everything that goes up on the mountain now is coming back down. The Everest guiding industry is relatively new compared to a lot of other industries and so I think people started to realize all right we gotta be careful about how we move forward with this. There does have to be a protocol and so there’s a lot of they call it leave no trace ethics now in the mountaineering community of if you take it there you bring it back. They’ve really cracked down on that. Maybe it was in the past, but with the litter and all that, that hasn’t really been my experience on either of the climbs.

17:46 Same with dead bodies to be honest. If they’re above sort of 8000 meters you can’t get them back down, but anything below that bodies are evacuated. But, yeah helicopters can only fly to six and a half thousand meters so yeah anything above 8000 meters it’s too hard to carry bodies back down.

Stu

18:05 My word. Okay. When you’re above, when you’re at the summit so tell me like how long are you up there for, what are you feeling like what do you see?

Alyssa

18:18 Yeah. It’s really quick so sort of 15, 20 minutes max. I remember I spend, yeah, on this last one 15 minutes on the summit and the reason is you’re just at altitude for a long time and you sort of loose track, you don’t really have a sense of time up there. You’re just sort of moving and you gotta be really careful not to be up there for too long. We are on a time limit. Yeah, you get up to the summit, try and just take it all in and I remember you can see the curvature of the Earth. We got there as the sun was rising and yeah, just amazing. On one side you’re looking out across Nepal and the other out across Tibet. You can see for ages. It’s pretty surreal when you see that final summit ridge and you get there. Yeah, so, but, yeah. About 15 minutes. Take some photos and just take it all in before you have to head back down and the descent you kind of lost all that adrenaline because you’ve achieved your goal and so it’s now kind of exhaustion and being really focused on just getting down safe now.

Stu

19:19 From a climbing perspective, which is harder, going up or going down?

Alyssa

19:26 Hard to say. I think I’m definitely more exhausted coming down. I do think going up is physically harder, but I noticed coming down from the summit on this recent climb I was only sort of 15 meters coming back down so I had just started to descent and it was almost like I just feel how drained I was all of sudden it just hit me like how exhausted. It’s easy to kind of freak out and think like I’m near the top of the world and feel like I’ve got no energy left and so that was quite a challenge and just being really deliberate about making sure you’re doing with the ropes. It’s really easy to make a mistake. I think going up is harder, but most accidents actually happen on the way down because of that exhaustion.

Stu

20:08 Yeah. I can only imagine. When I was younger and this is gonna sound ridiculous but I come from the UK, but me and a group of friends we did a challenge called the three peaks challenge. You climb the three highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales in under 24 hours overnight.

Alyssa

20:28 Oh nice.

Stu

20:29 You drive up to [inaudible 00:20:33] in Scotland and then you start the clock and then you just go and so you go up there and you come down and literally driving through the night and you’re eating all these sugary things to keep yourself going. It was just like a zombie on the very last one you’re like a zombie. Kind of running down this side of this mountain, which was mount Snowden. But I remember afterwards and I was pretty fit at the time, but it hit me so hard in terms of recovery that for the next two weeks I couldn’t even make it down the stairs. I had to come down the stairs on my bum because I was so sore everywhere. What’s the recover like from climbing the biggest mountain in the world?

Alyssa

21:18 Yeah. It really depends on sort of what happens on the expedition. In terms of potential frostbit, takes a long time to recover from, but the biggest thing is you lose a lot of weight so each time I’ve climbed eight to ten kilos in mostly muscle mass. Going into it I certainly try to put on a little bit of weight knowing that I’m going to lose it and that helps maybe afterwards as well, but the recovery is just you’re also eating those dehydrated meals and so it’s a few different things. It’s trying to get obviously sleep because we don’t get a lot of that on the mountain when we’re on our summit push. It’s also just trying to eat good, healthy nutritious foods. But, yeah, you’re really quite broken down physically and it’s just a matter of resting when you get back.

Stu

22:05 How long would you rest for, like youdon’t do anything for month or so?

Alyssa

22:11 Yeah, typically a month, but sort of play it by ear. I’ll slowly … Even after that I might take a month off where I don’t do anything physically and even then it takes a bit of time. You just start to be active and then yeah, it’s just listening to your body I think and then once I feel like I’m ready to get back into training maybe a few months later then I’ll start.

Stu

22:34 God it got it. You mentioned frostbite and I’ve always wondered because I love the idea of doing these fantastic things, but I’m physically lean like I’m a skinny dude and I get cold really easily. How does it work like when you’re up there you’ve got these extreme temperatures. Sure you’ve got all of the protective clothing under, but when you start to get cold to the core how do you warm yourself up? How do you stop frostbit from happening?

Alyssa

23:05 Yeah. Essentially like I remember our summit night on this last one was like minus 60 degrees and we had high winds as well so that can be quite an issue and you do have the gear on but you still can feel it. But, the biggest thing with frostbit is obviously your body’s sort of defense mechanism so when it realizes that it’s core temperature is threatened and is dropping it’ll sacrifice fingers, toes, the less vital parts of your body to try and protect the vital organs.

23:38 You can start to feel it. I guess it stings a little bit at first and that’s the onset of it. That’s when you can recognize you’re getting frost nip. But then when you can’t feel anything, if it goes numb, then you know you’ve got frostbite. You either have to descent or often there’s a few different things that climbers do, just trying to I guess shunt the blood back into your fingers because essentially frostbite is the circulation of blood being cut off. It’s the combination of the cold but also the lack of oxygen. Our body’s struggling to keep the blood circulating and that’s why it happens. Yeah, just recognizing when it does is part of that and if none of the sort of trying to get blood back into your fingers work you have to descent otherwise it just gets worse and worse.

Stu

24:26 Okay. Have you had frostbite? Have you experienced those?

Alyssa

24:31 I haven’t had bad frostbite at all, but you know I remember on the South side of Everest in 2016 when we summited a lot of climbers did get it, which was, yeah, I’m not sure why some do and some don’t, but also the rate that you’re moving at. If you can keep moving that definitely helps. But I remember we had a few team members one guy lost one of his fingers because of it. He had really bad frostbite and yeah it just depends person to person. Definitely.

Stu

25:00 Cool. Boy. Okay. Two summits now. You’ve climbed it twice.

Alyssa

25:06 Yes.

Stu

25:08 Will you stop or will you continue to do so?

Alyssa

25:11 You know I always … Going into each Everest expedition I’ve always left it wide open at the end so that if I come back and go you know what I think I’m done then that’s it. But, yeah, I would still love climbing and I’ve gotten into sort of guiding expeditions recently, so if I were to guide one potentially, but I’ve got now plans to head back to Everest at the moment, so yeah.

Stu

25:37 Not at the moment. Yeah. In terms of complexity because you said that Everest isn’t the most complex of the climbs out there and I know that K2 is supposed to be quite a technical climb as well and I mean have you attempted any of these, so like are you interested in any of the other climbs? How does that -

Alyssa

25:58 I am. Yeah. Definitely interested in other climbs and I think it’s interesting to you know …

26:00 It did in other climbs, and I think it’s interesting to have some of the more technical climbs. They’re still high altitude but they involve rock and ice climbing. It’s interesting to work on that in training. And then get to put it to the test on the mountain. And I definitely think whilst Everest is incredibly tough being the highest mountian in the world, some of these other eight thousand meter peaks they’re cool, so the 14 highest mountains in the world, some of those are hotter in terms of technicality. So with K2 … Most people who climb on Everest wouldn’t go to K2. It’s only 200 meters short of Everest, but far more technical. So I think just each section of the climb I would expect to be harder, but yeah, it’s definitely in my interest, some of those 8,000 meter peaks. To try those as well. I definitely think it would be more of a challenge in some ways, in terms of your working on the more technical side of climbing.

Stu

26:57 Yeah. Fantastic. Tell us a little bit about your day job, because I know that your … It’s an adventure company, isn’t it? So it’s part of your family.

Alyssa

27:11 Yeah, yeah. So my dad and I both part own and run Adventure Professionals, which I a trekking company. So, we specialize in the Kokoda track, Everest Base Camp, Mt. Kilimanjaro and the Aussie Ten Peaks. So those are main trips that we do. And we get everyone from corporates to athletes, and the whole range of different school groups, and a whole range of different people. So, it really depends year to year. Sort of the day job side of it is planning, and organizing these trips, and just the admin side. And then what will be a way for … I’ll typically do one to two Kokoda trips a year. My dad will do up to seven.

Stu

27:52 Wow.

Alyssa

27:52 And then, like this year, I’ll be guiding on that Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp, so I’ll be away for both of those over the next few months.

Stu

28:00 Okay.
Alyssa: 28:01 So yeah, it just kind of depends on what groups we’ve got on what trips. We kind of plan it year to year.

Stu

28:08 Got it. So how long would an Everest Based camp trek take typically?

Alyssa

28:14 So, in total, including travel, that’s 21 days. But it’s 14 days of actual trekking.

Stu

28:20 Right. Okay. And that’s fly into Katmandu and get everything on your start from there?

Alyssa

28:26 Yeah, that’s right. So fly into Katmandu. We usually have a few days to sight see, and all of that. And then we fly to Ukla, and that’s where they begin their trekking. So it’s about 10 days up. Because your going up in altitude. It takes a bit of time. So we factor in a acclimatization. We’ll have a rest day in one or two of the villages along the way, and then coming back down, sort of three days. It’s a lot quicker.

Stu

28:52 Fantastic. Is it scenic? Can you see Mt. Everest, like every day during that trek, or how does that work?

Alyssa

29:02 So the first couple of days, you can’t. But once you get up to a village that’s quite well known called Namche, from there you can see just phenomenal views. And you’ve got Everest, you’ve got some of the other highest mountains in the world, you’ve got Lhotse, Makalu, and then also a really iconic mountain, Amadablam. It’s just a really interesting shape. And so, you kind of skirt along the side of these mountain ranges as you work your way up, and a few days in, your just surrounded by the highest mountain in the world. And you almost feel like your in a different world, which is 360 of some of the most amazing mountains. So, yeah. It’s pretty scenic. I would recommend it for sure.

Stu

29:43 Unbelievable. I think it’s the majesty of these peaks.

Alyssa

29:49 Yes.

Stu

29:49 It’s like nothing. I guess it’s like the ocean. You know, the ocean’s so vast, and it makes you feel so insignificant, but I remember in my earlier days, I did a lot of traveling, and I traveled to Darjeeling, in India.

Alyssa

30:04 Yeah.

Stu

30:06 And we were literally in the clouds. And I stayed up there for two weeks. And it was just foggy for like 14 days solid. And I really, really wanted to see the Himalayas, and we were there, and it was just like foggy, and rain, and we went to see the Darjeeling Himalayan Institute, and saw all this great stuff. And then on the very last day that we left, we opened up the windows, and it was crystal, crystal clear, and you just saw the Himalayas, like right in front of you. And it was just so humbling. It was like, “Wow, this is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.” And I feel so insignificant, they are so majestic.

Alyssa

30:47 Yeah, I think that’s the same with Everest Base Camp, for sure. It just puts in perspective how tiny we are when your surrounded by the biggest peaks in the world, and yeah, you just feel tiny compared to what’s around you, definitely.

Stu

30:59 Yeah. So, I would imagine, it must be quite a draw card if, having somebody like you on the team, right? So you’ve climbed the highest mountain in the world twice, and your full of energy, and you just clearly know what your doing, and to have somebody like you take you on an Everest base camp trek, must be like, “Well, I’m in good hands.”

Alyssa

31:24 Yeah. Yeah. Definitely, and we chat with the people that we’ve got coming on the trip, months out. And they’re all watching the climb, and yeah, it’s pretty exciting for them knowing that they’re going to be there seeing Everest, and you’ve just summited, so. Your getting to share those experiences is definitely an advantage, I guess for us. Yeah, it’s a region that I certainly love and know well, so we get to show them. That is pretty exciting, definitely.

Stu

31:50 That’s great. So, age groups. In terms of like the Everest trek, the base camp trek, who can do it? Kid and elderly?

Alyssa

32:02 Yeah, look. I first did Everest base camp when I was 10. So, I think it depends on the person. If we do have someone who is quite young, or a bit older, we it down and chat with that person. Because it’s such an individual based thing. Yeah, so I wouldn’t put a certain cut off on it, but I think … And same with Dakota. We’ve had times where someone will have their 11 and 10 year old kids, but we need to sit down and make sure that they actually want to do it, and their motivation’s in the right place. Yeah, we don’t have too many restrictions, it’s just where they’re at.

Stu

32:38 Right. Okay. And how do you vet these people, because I guess you know, if your trekking through a minimum of 14 days, then your going to have to be pretty … At least have a base level of fitness to be able to do that. And you wouldn’t want people holding up the rest of the group, as well, huffing and puffing.

Alyssa

32:56 Yeah. Yeah. No, that’s right. With Everest Base Camp, we take it pretty slow in terms of just acclimatizing to the altitude, so we don’t bust it. But you do want people at a certain level so they can handle it. And we always say to people, you don’t want to just be staring at your feet all the time wondering how am I going to get through this. You want to be able to enjoy where you are, and go and see all these different places, and have the energy to do that. So, it’s as much for their experience as the others as well. So, we provide people with a training program. And that’s from sitting in an office, and not having done much, and we can train them up to be ready for it.

Alyssa

33:36 But usually, when people book on, they’ve made the commitment, and so they’ll follow through with the training. But, it’s hard to vet people. You sort of chat to them, see how they’re going from a year out, every few months, we’ll touch base with the people who are going and see how they are. But yeah, people tend to book it sometimes a year or two out, and that gives them plenty of time to prepare for it.

Stu

33:58 Yeah. Brilliant. And what … Food and supplements. When you’re doing something like that, and even in terms of your supplementation when your doing the big climbs as well, is there anything that you would always take as a bit of a daily, non-negotiable in terms of maybe a type of vitamin, or minerals, or that kind of stuff. What do you recommend?

Alyssa

34:24 Yeah, so I certainly find that I have consistently had low iron levels. So, definitely iron is always a part of my day. When your on a climb, yeah, it’s helpful up high, to have those supplements, because your not … your sort of struggling to eat, your burning a lot of calories, and so something that’s small but high energy is definitely really important. So yeah, jellos, bars, different things like that.

Stu

34:24 Got it.

Alyssa

34:49 I always have up higher on the mountain as well. Yeah.

Stu

34:52 Brilliant. Fantastic. Non-negotiables. So, what do you do … Every day. So you get up in the morning think right, I’ve got to do these things today, because this sets the standard for my day, whether it be meditation, or we get up and have a coffee, what are your non-negotiables. To crush every day.

Alyssa

35:16 Yes. So there’s a few things that I do. Certainly, if I’m not in a recovery period, definitely training. So going, getting my session done first thing in the morning for me. I like that I’ve put in that work first thing. So yeah, usually I head to the gym pretty early, I’ll then grab a coffee. And often while I’m doing that, two other things. I mostly do daily, but at the very least weekly on a Sunday before my week starts is I’ll definitely listen to music that motivates or inspires me. But I’ll also write things down. I have a lot of notebooks, and it’s just sort of running through my goals, and just are my actions in line with that. And yeah. Writing down different things like that. Just to make sure I’m clear on, “Okay what do I need to get done today that’ll help get me there?” And, yeah, those are my four things that I do most days to be ready. Yeah.

Stu

36:08 Fantastic. So what’s next? What’s on the horizon?

Alyssa

36:15 So, for the rest of this year, I’ll be guiding, mostly. And same for next year. So this year, I’ve got Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp. Next year, I’m introducing just through my own company now Summit Club Expeditions. We’re running seven summits climbs. So the seven summits to the highest point on each of the seven continents. And so, we’ve got a climb in January that I’m guiding to South America. The highest mountain over there. And then one to Russia, a well. And then toward the end of next year, we’ll probably do another base camp trek, and I will add in for myself once we finish that, some peak climbing while I’m over there. So yeah. I gotta fare a few climbs coming up over the next 18 months, both guiding and personal. Yeah.

Stu

36:58 Fantastic. Wow. That is hugely inspirational. It’s clearly in your blood.

Alyssa

37:05 Yes.

Stu

37:06 It clearly is. How can we get more of Alyssa Azar … How can we find more about the businesses as well that your involved in?

Alyssa

37:18 We’re quite active on social media So either myself or the company. So the company is just adventureprofessionals, or I’ve got a Facebook page, which is just Alyssa Azar. But I’m also on Instagram and I have a website which is just alyssaazar.com.au. And pretty much through our channels you can sort of find myself or the company, and get in touch.

Stu

37:40 Fantastic. Thank you so much. Look, I really appreciate your time this morning, and look forward to sharing this with our audience.

Alyssa

37:48 Yeah, thank you for having me.

Stu

37:49 Okay. Thanks very much, Alyssa. You take care.

Alyssa

37:52 Thank you.

Stu

37:52 Thank you. Bye bye.

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