Junko Tabei was the first woman to climb the Mt Everest. She was also the first woman to climb all the Seven Summits. The seven summits are the highest mountains in all the seven continents. It includes
- Mt Everest – 8,848 meters in Asia
- Mt Aconcagua – 6,961 meters in South America.
- Mt Denali – 6,194 meters in North America.
- Mt Kilimanjaro – 5,895 meters in Africa
- Mt Elbrus – 5,642 meters in Europe
- Mt Vinson – 4,892 meters in Antarctica
- Mt Kosciuszko – 2,228 meters in Australia
Journey of Tabei as a mountain climber
Junko began mountain climbing at the age of 10 by joining a class climbing trip to Mt Nasu. Her family was big and she was the fifth of seven children. Mountain climbing being an expensive hobby, her family could not afford her.
After graduation in English literature at Showa Women University, Tabei formed the Ladies Climbing Club in 1969. It was the first of its kind in Japan. She stated that she formed the club as she was ill – treated by male mountaineers of the time. Some even refused to climb with her. She had climbed Mt Fuji in Japan and Mt Matterhorn in Swiss Alps. By 1972 Tabei established her recognition as a mountain climber.
Tabei climbed the Everest in 1975. A team of 15 members known as Japanese Women Everest Expedition (JWEE) headed to climb the peak. The team had teachers, working professionals and 2 mothers (including Tabei). The team used the same routed taken by Egmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. At 6,300 meters an avalanche stuck their camp. The women were buried under snow. Tabei lost consciousness for 6 hours and was dug out by her guide. Twelve days later on 16 May 1975 Tabei became the first woman to climb the Everest.