JOYCE AZZAM: Conquering the Peak

By Joyce Najm
April 20, 2017

Her nickname is '' Mountain Turtle'' because she describes herself as someone who is moving 'slowly but surely'. But the truth is that Joyce Azzam is a real phenomenon: the architect is currently preparing her thesis in landscape and environment at the La Sapienza University in Rome, but most importantly, she has succeeded in conquering around twenty mountain tops, and the highest is more than 6,000 meters above sea level.
Have you always been so adventurous?
No, I wasn't always as brave or adventurous as I am now, and it's certainly because of my childhood. My first years were punctuated by the Lebanese civil war, depriving me of the opportunity to enjoy the Lebanese mountain and plunging me into fear, since we're always afraid of what we don't know. On the other hand, I've always been curious! I think that curiosity has allowed me to live beautiful moments, to see beautiful landscapes, to taste extraordinary dishes and especially to meet and connect with very interesting people throughout the world.
What is special about the Explorers Grand Slam challenge?
The Explorers Grand Slam consists of climbing the seven highest peaks of the world and reaching the two poles. This challenge is considered one of the hardest mountaineering, and to date only about 12 women were able to complete it. Personally, I have already conquered four mountain tops. Successfully climbing the last three will be a first success for a woman in the history of our country and the Arab region. But this time, I will be accompanied, for each mountain, by several Lebanese women from all over the world, in order to reconnect with the Lebanese community throughout the world.
Let's go back to your last expedition: the Aconcagua in Argentina.
The expedition to Aconcagua (6,962 meters) was very important to me as it was my second attempt to climb this mountain. In 2012, at camp Colera (6000 meters), I had my period, and lacking experience, I was afraid and I decided not to continue to the top. After five years, I returned with more experience and a meaningful message, the empowerment of Lebanese women. The expedition took 18 days in total, 16 days to arrive at the summit, and 2 to go back down. We faced four snow storms and a white wind. The Aconcagua is a mountain that is not technically difficult to climb but the microclimate that reigns can be fatal.

For the rest of the interview, check out our March 2017 issue.