"I started hiking with my dad when I was really young," reminisces Nelly Attar, the renowned athlete and fitness instructor who's currently on an iconic Everest expedition and competing to be the first Lebanese woman – and second Lebanese national – to summit the world's highest peak. "He used to take me on weekend hikes here in Saudi; I used to really enjoy it, because he used to teach me about nature and the importance of respecting animals. And it was a nice way to get active and be out of the city."
It would be an understatement to say that Everest is witnessing history right now with an expedition of the largest ever number of Arabs of different nationalities taking on the mountain peak. However, despite the fact that she hasn't stopped being active since her dad instilled in her the values of being in the outdoors at a young age, Everest wasn't even on the table for Nelly not so long ago. "At the age of 17, my father took me on my first proper hike to Mt. Kenya, something I wasn't prepared to do and had no idea what it was like. But it definitely created a lifelong passion and curiosity for being outdoors and trying different climbs and hikes across the world, and that's how it basically started," Nelly explains. After that, the hikes in Saudi, Lebanon, and London never stopped. Then she did Kilimanjaro, and several of the world's highest peaks, conquering them one after the other.Next up: Everest. Despite the mountain's notoriety, Nelly set it as a goal and believes the reality is different from what an outside viewer might think. "I don't see Everest as life-threatening; I see it as a way to embrace life and a make the best use of my life," she says. "There's a risk but it is calculated and managed, and hopefully it'll be nothing but an amazing experience."The decision to take on Everest wasn't taken lightly, and it took countless hours and days of training in order to prepare for the mountain. "It was 6 to 7 days of training a week," Nelly adds. From long endurance runs to 3 or 4 hours on the Stairmaster with a heavy backpack, and much more; the gruelling training took a lot of focus and energy, but it wasn't all physical. "There are a lot of other preparations, like understanding more about Everest and learning more about it," Nelly explains. "I've met with numerous people who have been on Everest and climbed it. We read a lot of books on Everest and watched so many documentaries."
Deciding to climb Everest was just a distant idea for Nelly not too long ago, and she wants everyone with a dream to just set a goal and work their way towards it. "Just about three or four years ago the idea came into my mind, and I didn't even think of it as a dream. About a year ago it became a vision," she adds. She still didn't know how that vision would come to life, but she took it slowly and asked for help all the way through till that vision translated into reality, and Nelly insists anyone could do the same if they set their mind to it. "If there's something that you want to do, something that has been itching you and on your mind, do it! Don't wait for the right time or the perfect time; use whatever time you have now to do whatever it is you want to do. Life is short; time will never come back, but money will!"
All photos and videos courtesy of Nelly Attar