AS THE crowds cheered for Toowoomba mountaineer Alyssa Azar at her hero's welcome at Wellcamp Airport today, the teen took a minute to recall the moment she passed Melbourne woman Maria Strydom, who died on the Mt Everest expedition, and paid her respects.
"We were on very similar summit schedules," Ms Azar said.
Last month she became the youngest Australian to climb Mt Everest.
She said she passed Dr Strydom going down from camp four to three and at the time did not know she was also Australian or had altitude sickness.
"You always think in hindsight, although at that point it wasn't too much of an issue, could we have done something, given her oxygen or tried to get her down to camp two for a rescue?" she said.
When Ms Azar reached the summit, she spent 20 minutes literally being "on the top of the world".
She was able to reach her father Glenn by satellite phone, who was then on the Kokoda Track, to let him know she had done it.
"I thought of home whenever things got tough and took with me a photo of my little brother," she said.
Ms Azar was relieved to climb the mountain on her third attempt but found the term "conquered" disrespectful.
""I summited Everest and I'm proud of that but to me it will never be conquered, it's a beautiful mountain," she said.
Year 9 and 10 students from St Ursula's College could not contain their excitement at meeting the teen.
Student Ruby Crabtree-Spencer said Ms Azar was a role model for female courage and determination and hoped she would call by the school while she was in town.
But Ms Azar said the first thing she was going to do was hug her mum.
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