Japanese mountaineer who was the first woman to reach the summit of Everest
Climbing Mt. Everest is difficult, dangerous, and almost unthinkable. The climbers have to prepare for many months, maybe even years. When you get near the top, there’s not enough airs and the simple mistake can kill you.
In 1975, the first woman reached the top of Mt. Everest. Her name was Tabei Junko. Tabei was born in 1939 in Fukushima prefecture, Japan. She was not very good at sports but when she first climb the mountain at age of ten, she enjoyed it greatly.
“The only way I can get to the top is by going step by step.”
“The joy that I feel when I arrive at the top, is something that I can not feel in daily life. “
Climbing made her happy and strong. After graduating from university, Tabei spent more and more for time and energy on mountain climbing. Sometime, she went climbing after work, came back down the next morning and then went straight to work.
In 1969, she started at climbing club for women. Their goal was to go and climb the world highest mountain by themselves. Their first trip to the Himalaya’s in 1970 was a success.
And next, they decided to climb Mt. Everest. But before even climbing, they were many challenges. Some people told Tabei that Everest was a dangerous place for a woman, and that she should look after her children at home. But she didn’t listen to them.
It was also difficult to find the sponsor. But she found two sponsors just before leaving. A newspaper company and a television company. Things were not easy after arriving at Everest either. And avalanche hit their camp and Tabei was under the snow for more than 5 minutes.
She almost died…
But Tabei wanted to keep going. Then on May 16 1975, she became the first woman who reached the top of Mt. Everest. Tabei was also the first woman to climb the highest mountains on all 7 continents.
She never retired from climbing. Even when she found out she had cancer, she continue to climb when she wasn’t in the hospital. For her, climbing mountains was a way of life. Tabei died in 2016, at age of 77.
In her later years, Tabei climbed Mt Fuji with high school students who had experienced the great East Japan earthquake.
Her most recent trip to Mt Fuji was in July 2016. This was only three months before she died. She told the students “ Even when things are difficult, just take things step by step, and you’ll reach your goal.”