I have one word for this; perseverance.
Rawan Dakik is a 21 years old mountaineer who has summited all 7 highest summits of the World.
To her, mountains are the ultimate mindset and mental strength tests out there! She wants to influence and inspire people around her to break through false beliefs and chase their biggest goals.
We have talked to Rawan about her last successful expedition to Mt. Denali, her seventh and last summit. We wanted to get into what got her on this journey to the seven highest summits of the world, and Why!
What are you currently doing?
I am currently finishing my bachelors degree in international business specialized in sports management. I also run a tourism logistics company in Tanzania.
What is your lifestyle like?
I like to say I live a quite balanced lifestyle. During the majority of the year I devote most of my time to studying, training and traveling/ enjoying time with friends and family. Having a routine allows me to stay focused on my long-term goals.
What is your training like on a daily basis?
My training is split into 3 phases which are modified according to the mountain I am training for.
Phase 1: Muscle strengthening. I like to say that this phase is the core buildup of my training. Here I work on creating a good foundation for phase 2.
Phase 2: Muscle conditioning: Increase muscle strength, power and speed. Here I work on creating the strength I will need for the long restless days on the mountain. This phase has a lot of outdoor hikes with a heavy backpack, countless hours in the gym building strength and slight recovery.
Phase 3: Maintaining & Recovery: As the climb comes closer, I work on maintaining the strength that I built with less intense hours and shifting focus more to recovery/rest. Recovery is crucial at this stage as it ensures that my body is well rested before the intensity of the climb.
Alongside my training, the focus on my nutrition also plays a big role in my climb. Ensuring I eat well and healthy impacts any of my climbs. On the mountain we lack a lot of nutrients therefore loading up my body with the necessary foods is also a crucial step.
When was your first summit? Where? Tell us about that first experience.
My first summit was on Kilimanjaro. Little did I know the mountain that was in my backyard sparked my mountaineering career.
The first time I stood on the summit, I suffered and didn’t enjoy the climb at all. At that moment, I didn’t want to climb again.
A year later I gave it another go and I loved every second of it! It only went up from there. I realized how much I enjoyed discovering myself; how far I am able to push my physical and mental limits.
When did you realize that you were after the seven summits?
After I climbed Kilimanjaro, I started to explore myself on other mountains in different countries. With 2/7 summits already completed, my parents and I decided that climbing the 7 summits would be a goal that I can look forward to in the years to come.
At the time, I didn’t know if I was actually capable of achieving the goal but it drove me to understand how discipline and dedication come hand in hand.
6 years of training, endless hours of training, tears of joy, tears of sadness, being broken down and pushing myself back up and many many more. These are all reasons as to why I decided to climb the 7 summits.
Which mountain was the most challenging?
Each summit was challenging in its own way. From my experience Everest is the most difficult as it was the most mentally demanding. Despite being mentally strong, it was tough to push through 2 months on the mountain. You could be the strongest climber in the world but if you are mentally not strong, I guarantee there will not be a successful expedition.
When my body gave up, I knew that I still had about 70% in my tank and that tank would only be activated when I set my mind to the challenge. This is easier said than done. When you are already mentally drained, pushing yourself is not an easy task.
Which mountain did you enjoy the most?
Kilimanjaro is a mountain I truly enjoy. I feel like it brings people together like no other mountain does. It may be challenging for some and easier for others therefore I love to see how we all come together in order to have a safe and successful trip for all.
As I am a local on the mountain, I enjoy getting to know the mountain staff and connecting with them. Listening to others stories is intriguing as they inspire me to push even harder.
Why do you climb? Why the seven summits?
This is the question that has been tough for me to answer for many years. At some point I thought I was climbing just because I enjoy the sport and the thrill that comes with it.
The more I climb, the more I understand how big of a role it plays when I am not climbing. I go to the mountains to seek self-comfort, to understand what I want from the world, to understand what my purpose in life is. I climb not so the world can see me, but for me to see the world from a whole different perspective and appreciate the small things in life.
Despite being able to achieve all this for myself, I also inspire the people around me. I hope to be showing people how grit and discipline can help you achieve the goals you have set for yourself.
Raising both my countries flags on all the 7 summits has also put both Tanzania and Lebanon on the map. Showing the world what we as young adults are able to achieve is phenomenal. Most importantly showing the younger generation that there is a lot more to the world than the daily tasks we are set out to complete.
What is one thing you say to yourself when you are on a mountain?
Remembering the end goal is key. I kept telling myself pain is temporary but glory is worth a lifetime. When that didn’t work, I remembered that it wasn’t meant to be easy or else everyone would be doing it, it’s more about setting an example for others to push past their comfort zones. Having these two in mind played a huge role in all my summit success.
Which summit gave you the most satisfaction?
Denali is a mountain that pushed me down many times. It’s definitely not an easy mountain to concur.
In 2019 I had an unsuccessful summit attempt on Denali, this made me hit one of my lowest lows. I felt like the 7 Summits wasn’t for me and began to question my abilities.
As time went by, I found myself returning to the mountain and was determined to head back for a second attempt. Which I did, in 2022 not only did I summit but it was also the mountain that concluded my 7 Summits.
Denali gave me the most satisfaction because I had to work very hard for it. It didn’t come easy at all which I loved. Both attempts taught me a lot about myself and expanded my mountaineering knowledge.
If you were to deduce lessons from each summit, how would that go?
1. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania:
Key lesson: Make the most of everything. Being able to connect with the local staff taught me how to appreciate every moment as I live it. Seeing how happy they were while working warms your heart. Someone that lives off the bare minimum still manages to wake up and put a smile on their face and I think that’s beautiful.
2. Mount Elbrus, Russia:
Key lesson: A taste of mountaineering. Elbrus was the introduction to my mountaineering journey. Learning skills and putting them to the test taught me what works best for me.
3. Denali, Alaska:
Key lesson: I have one word for this; perseverance. Persistence is doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success and this is exactly what happened on Denali. Pushing myself despite everything that happened gave me immense self-gratification.
4. Aconcagua, Argentina:
Key lesson: Aconcagua gave me a real taste of mental demand. This was the first mountain that I had to spend a lot of time on. I didn’t know how much mental strength I actually needed to push through 3 weeks on a mountain. Being away from my family at that age (17) was tough. This not only taught me how to push myself mentally but also to be comfortable being alone.
I discovered that success begins when you are comfortable and happy with who you are. This gives room for development rather than bringing yourself down.
5. Vision Massif, Antartica:
Key lesson: Stepping outside my comfort zone. Before I started to climb, I wasn’t the most confident person. Traveling solo to the world’s most remote areas taught me how to meet and engage with the people around me. This has led to me creating friends that will last a lifetime.
I learned that when you stick to your small circle it keeps you very limited whereas listening to what others have to say (positive and negative) gives you the opportunity to learn and apply what seems right to your own life.
6. Puncak Jaya (Carstenz Pyramid), Oceania:
Key lesson: Not all summits are enjoyable and for me, Carstenz was one of those mountains. Despite summiting, it was a mountain that I didn’t enjoy climbing. It taught me what I liked and didn’t like in mountaineering which I am thankful for. After climbing Carstenz I knew what type of mountaineering I was into and shifted my focus to that. It also taught me what I needed to work on physically in order to have a smoother climb.
7. Mount Everest, Nepal/China:
Key lesson: Patience, patience and more patience. 50% of the time we are playing a waiting game (for good weather). One would think that this is time to rest and recover before moving up the mountain but having to wait and not knowing if you can move the next day or not is draining. Like anything in life, we tend to prepare ourselves mentally before things happen and not knowing if things are going to happen is mentally confusing.
Everest took me a total of 56 days. Yes, that is a very long time to spend on a mountain. Being able to be patient and think about the end goal was crucial.
How did Wolfpack impact you?
I became a Wolfpack athlete in 2021 after my Everest climb. I now can say I have a second family that pushes me to do my best. Not only have they supported me in everything that I do (not only climbing) but talking to the coaches at Wolfpack helped me discover my Why in life. This has made things clearer for me and has helped me shift my focus onto things that actually matter.