Carina Dayondon: First Filipina Mountaineer to Reach the Seven Summits
“What’s more important for me is we showed the Filipinas, the young ones, there’s nothing impossible if you’re determined, focused, and if you believe in your dreams. It’s okay to get a record, but does it have a point? Did you inspire anyone? Did you touch anyone’s heart, inspire them to do something like that? That’s what’s important to us. The message is there, to inspire the kids and the Filipinos,” – Carina Dayondon
Carina Dayondon is a Filipina mountaineer, Philippine Coast Guard officer, and adventurer. She is also the first Filipina to climb and reach the Seven Summits, the seven tallest mountains of each continent. She accomplished this feat in December 2018, when she successfully ascended Vinson Massif in Antarctica.
Her journey towards this amazing accomplishment began in 2006 when she reached the top of Mount Denali in Alaska. The following year, she climbed Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain, with fellow female mountaineers Noelle Wenceslao and Janet Belarmino. She is officially the second Filipina to get to the summit, ten minutes after Wenceslao. They ascended Mt. Everest via the northern route in Tibet and descended through the southern route in Nepal.
Between 2006 and 2018, she climbed the other five highest mountains worldwide. It goes without saying that planning and preparing for these climbs was not easy. Dayondon spent most of her time training for these climbs and overcoming the challenges.
For example, when preparing for her final peak in 2017, she experienced problems with her eye. A doctor told her that she would go blind, but Dayondon continued to pursue her dreams. She trained and tested her body, including her eye, and decided that she could continue her climb. Fortunately, she achieved her goal without losing her eyesight and became the first Filipina to summit the world’s tallest peaks.
Dayondon was raised in the Philippine province of Bukidnon, the fourth of 15 children. She came from humble beginnings and enjoyed the outdoors even as a child. She was a member of the Girl Scouts in her elementary school years. When she entered college, she became a member of her university’s mountaineering society. It took her nine years to complete college because she participated in various adventure racing sports to earn money and help support her siblings. Dayondon also supported herself by working part-time jobs such as climbing instructor, salesperson, and babysitter.
Her challenging upbringing gave her the strength and resilience she needed to get to where she is now. Today, she works as a Coast Guard officer and is taking time off from climbing, although she keeps the door open to future endeavors. Of course, even while she is not actively climbing, she serves as an inspiration to Filipinos everywhere.
Despite coming from a family with limited financial means and needing to take loans out for her climbs, she remained steadfast in working towards her goals. Her story is one of grace, teamwork, and support. Dayondon shows us the importance of lifting each other up and supporting women in our society so they can go beyond what is expected and, in turn, inspire others as well.