While Alyssa Azar was climbing Mt Everest, there were occasions where she couldn’t think more than 10 steps ahead.
Reaching the summit of the world’s highest peak is undoubtedly a huge physical task, requiring years of training and preparation. And then, when the training is over, the trek up Mount Everest still takes months.
But beyond the strength, fitness and grit required to reach the top of the world, there is another challenge to be mindful of: The mental one.
The ugly business of climbing Mount Everest. Post continues after podcast.
“Mentally, it’s a whole mix of things,” the 22-year-old told Mamamia. “Sometimes you’re looking at the big picture, focusing on ‘I’m on Everest, this is huge’. And then other times, you’re just focusing on the day-to-day.”
“That was a piece of advice that I certainly had from mentors of mine before I went: Focus on each task, each day, really be in the moment and it will all come together. I found that was really helpful during the toughest times on the mountain.
“If you look too far ahead, you mentally psych yourself out, it feels really overwhelming. If you just focus on, when it got its hardest, the next 10 steps. Just take 10 steps and do it again and again and again and before you know it you will get somewhere.
"You certainly have moments when you just hit the wall mentally and you think 'I don't know if I can get up' to the next camp and you push through and you do."
Alyssa has reached the summit of Mt Everest twice.
In 2016, she became the youngest Australian to reach the summit at 19 years old. In 2018 she climbed the mountain from the north side, in Tibet, and became the youngest woman to summit Everest from both the north and south sides.
One of the most common side effects of trekking Everest is altitude sickness, particularly as climbers reach above 8000 metres - known as Everest's 'death zone'.
Alyssa didn't suffer altitude sickness, but that didn't mean she skipped the symptoms of being so high above sea level.