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They call it the death zone. At altitudes above 26,000 feet, your body starts to die. Deprived of oxygen, your brain functions are compromised, and you start acting like a drunk teenager, which is the last thing you want to be doing while balancing on a sheer cliff on the highest point on Earth. It’s possibly the most excruciating moments you’ll experience, and maybe your lungs are about to explode or your feet or your fingers feel like shattering, but that’s the price you pay for touching heaven.
Romi Garduce, the first Filipino to complete the Seven Summits, once said that climbers need to be masochists in order to finish: “It’s all just suffering.” I once hyperventilated and thought I was going to collapse on a day hike up Turtlehead Peak in Nevada, so I can’t even begin to imagine the difficulties and dangers one encounters on an expedition to the tallest mountains in the world.
But people like Carina Dayondon must love it, or, as the joke goes, have short-term memories. She certainly makes it look like a walk in the park.
It’s possibly the most excruciating moments you’ll experience, and maybe your lungs are about to explode or your feet or your fingers feel like shattering, but that’s the price you pay for touching heaven.
Dayondon—who stepped on the highest peak in Antarctica last December 16, 2018 to become the first Filipina to finish the Seven Summits—posted photographs of her constructing an igloo with her teammates, and building a Christmas tree adorned with climbing rope. She knows, however, the many ways you can die in the mountains. Her journey began with the quest for Everest, which is on every serious mountaineer’s bucket list.
“It’s intimidating— the height, the terrain, the dead you will see along the way.” Yes—the dead. Many have attempted but overestimated their capabilities. The recent spate of deaths near an overcrowded summit in Everest just goes to show that it is not the mountain that needs conquering, but human greed.
Read the full story in GRID Volume 08.
GRID Volume 08 is made possible by Toyota Philippines. Visit toyota.com.ph to learn more.