Junko Tabei in May of 2006 on Mount Everest

Junko Tabei in May of 2006 on Mount Everest

Junko Tabei was born in Japan in 1939. She was raised in a culture that valued women as wives, mothers, and home-makers. Although Tabei would marry and have two children, she was not content to be a housewife.

When Tabei was 10, she climbed Mount Nasu with a teacher. Her climb inspired a lifelong love of mountain climbing, one that would take her all over the world. She went on to study English literature at Showa Women’s University in Japan. While at university, Tabei also began mountain climbing. In 1969, she formed the Ladies Climbing Club: Japan.

Only six years later, Tabei led a 15-member, all-women expedition to the Himalayas. She left her 3-year-old daughter at home in Japan with her husband, a fellow mountain climber. Hers was the only party allowed on the south route that climbing season, as per Nepal’s laws. She carried her supplies herself, scaling the mountains for the joy and challenge rather than the fame.

On May 16, 1975, Tabei became the first woman in history to scale Mount Everest, the highest mountain on Earth. She reached the 8,763-meter south summit of Mount Everest, and then made the final push along an icy, knife-edge ridge to the 8,848-meter peak itself. Her feat was heralded as a symbol of the huge strides that Japanese women had made in equality and freedom-of-choice.

Tabei continues to climb mountains to this day. In 1992, she became the first woman to reach the highest point on each of the seven continents. Today, she continues to pursue her dream of scaling the highest mountain in every country of the world – and she’s already a third of the way to that goal! Tabei has also become a champion for sustainable mountaineering and researching the garbage problem on Everest. She is the director of Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan, an organization dedicated to preserving the mountain environment.

Happy 75th Birthday to one amazing woman!!

-Tiffany Rhoades
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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