Who was the first woman to climb Everest?
Following in the footsteps of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, who was the first woman to ascent the world's highest mountain?
“I was the 36th person to climb Everest,” was how Japanese mountaineer Junko Tabei once understatedly described her 1975 ascent of the world’s highest mountain, when she became the first woman to reach the summit.
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Throughout her mountaineering career, Tabei scaled new heights (pun intended). In 1969, she formed the first women’s climbing club in Japan – with the slogan “Let’s go on an overseas expedition by ourselves” – partly because of the way she had been treated by some male climbers. Some simply didn’t want to climb with her, while others claimed she was only doing so as a means of finding a husband. Ironically enough, she did actually marry a fellow climber, whom she met in 1965.
During her Everest ascent, using the same route as Hillary and Norgay 22 years earlier, an avalanche struck the team’s camp, knocking Tabei unconscious for several minutes. She had to be dug out of the snow by a Sherpa in the party. Injured, she persisted with the ascent and, 12 days later, made it to the top of Everest alongside Sherpa Ang Tsering.
Unknown to Junko Tabei – whose first thought on summiting Everest was reportedly "Oh, I don't have to climb anymore" – another expedition with female climbers was making an ascent from the other side. They made the top 11 days later.
Tabei went on to achieve a host of other firsts – including, in 1992, becoming the first woman to ascend the Seven Summits, the highest peaks on every continent.
This article was taken from BBC History Revealed
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