Filipina Mountaineer Carina Dayondon Proves That No Mountain is Higher Than Her Dreams
In a field where the tough and the strong emerge at the summit, Filipina Carina Dayondon proves that no mountain is higher than her dreams.
Carina has already climbed five of the World’s Seven Summit—Mt. Everest in Asia, Mt. McKinley, Mt. Elbrus, Mt. Kosciuzsko and Mt. Kilimanjaro, which she climbed in October 2015.
She is on her journey to finish the seven summits as she prepares for her climb for Mt. Vinson in Antarctica and Mt. Aconcagua in South America.
But as she prepares for the highlight of her mountaineering career, the 37-year-old dreamer looks back at her hardships.
Carina said that traversing the world’s highest mountains means giving up the life she has in exchange for a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Being born and raised in the landlocked province of Bukidnon, Carina was exposed to different outdoor activities that challenged both her willingness to pursue extreme sports and her obligation to her younger siblings.
“Back in 2004, an opportunity to be part of the team that will climb Mt. Everest came,” Carina said. “I just graduated college so I was torn between finding a job to help bring home the bacon, or head to Manila to join the team.”
Carina was also challenged as her parents were not supportive of her decision to join the team.
But this did not stop her to pursue what she has always been wanted. When Carina arrived in Manila, she instead joined an expedition team led by former undersecretary Art Valdez of the Department of Transportation and Communications where possible employment with a stable allowance was offered.
“No mountain is ever hard to cross unless you don’t start the expedition. As for me, I will continue to climb mountains, even those that we currently have in life”
During this time, the team was already preparing for their Mt. Everest Summit—an expedition three years in the making.
“Our preparation to conquer Mt. Everest took three years, and it was not an easy feat due to budget constraints. We needed more sponsors to finance our training,” Carina recalls. “Because of the team effort, we were able to meet our needs. Some members of the team like Sir Art had to shell out personal money to support the team. Some of us joined races to win to have funds for our training. That’s pure dedication.”
But challenges to this dream came for Carina when her father had to retire suddenly and used the retirement funds to start a business. Unfortunately, her family’s up-and-coming business went bankrupt and led to the foreclosure of their home.
As the fourth eldest child in a family of 14, Carina found it difficult to fund her brothers’ and sisters’ education.
“That was the lowest point in my life. Every night, I would cry because of guilt for not being there for my family, for not being able to send financial assistance even when I was able,” Carina says.
Carina was torn between giving up my dream to climb Mt. Everest and going back to her family in Bukidnon. Until she asked God for a sign, and He lets her and a colleague win one of the races they joined.
“I was able to send half a million-peso worth of money to my family and decided to stay with the team,” shared Carina.
Aside from the financial aid that came with the Island Paradise Adventure Race (Organized by Department of Tourism) championship title, Carina and some of her colleagues were employed in the Philippine Coast Guard as a regular non-officer.
She recalls, “With a detailed status as athletes designated to the 1stPhilippine Mount Everest team. Our employment to the Coast Guard helped us support our family and sustain our training needs.”
Finally, in 2007, Carina and the Philippine Mount Everest team finally climbed the highest summit in the world. According to Carina, there were three important C’s that kept the team intact—Compatibilities, Capabilities, and Commitment.
For the team, being compatible with each other allowed them to work better as a team; having the right capabilities made them more physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually capable of the climb; and committing to the expedition means “giving up your life to reach the top.”
With the success of the summit, the three women in the team—including Carina—were recognized as the only three women in the world to scale the heights of Mt. Everest by traversing the mountain.
They climbed from the North side (Tibet) and went down on the south side (Nepal), logistically and financially demanding than usual commercial climb that they just used one side of the mountain in going up and coming down.
“We were very lucky because our success rate was at 100 percent. It is true that we were privileged to stand at the highest point on Earth. But the journey to the top was not easy—it entailed a lot of discipline and sacrifice. We invested in a lot of hard work and strong faith in God,” Carina says.
It is from this journey to the Mt. Everest when Carina wanted to climb all of the World’s Seven Summits.
She says, “After climbing the Mt. Everest, I already thought of climbing the rest of the seven summits. Doing the Seven Summits is a continuity of showcasing the best of Filipino talents around the world, especially the Pinay power. In this way also, we can help inspire the young ones to explore their own summits and find a way to go beyond their limits.”
“It is exciting to start a journey because that way, we will be able to learn, discover and experience new things. We also get to meet new and amazing people, traverse new topographies, eat foods that are not familiar to us and be immersed in new customs and traditions. Indeed, climbing mountains and visiting new places are a wonderful experience,” Carina says.
Finding her true purpose
More than accomplishing the World’s Seven Summit, Carina believes that her purpose is by “using my passion and mountaineering sport in inspiring the youth and empowering fellow Filipinas that they can reach their own summit.”
Carina is currently serving in the Philippine Coast Guard with the rank of LTJG/1st Lieutenant and is assigned in the Officer Basic Education Training at Bagac, Bataan as a Tactical Officer.
While waiting for her next expedition, Carina plans to come up with fundraising activities targeted to Filipino women and create cancer awareness programs as inspired by one of her siblings who battled against life because of the disease that took the life of my sister last December 2015.
She concludes, “The overall experience inspired me to do greater things in life, to believe in my own strengths and to trust that with God, nothing is truly impossible. No mountain is ever hard to cross unless you don’t start the expedition. As for me, I will continue to climb mountains, even those that we currently have in life.”