Junko Tabei - Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen

Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen (2016)

Junko Tabei

Japanese mountain climber Junko Tabei (1939-) became the first woman to climb to the summit of Mount Everest on May 16, 1975. In a sense, her ascent began when she was ten years old, when she climbed Mount Nasu with a teacher. She continued climbing while she attended college to study English literature and become a teacher. After school, she formed the first Ladies Climbing Club (LCC) in Japan in a time when women had jobs but were expected to serve tea to their male coworkers.

In 1970, Tabei led the LCC on a climb of Annapurna III that inspired them to apply to climb Mount Everest. While she was on the waiting list, Tabei’s story created a sensation, and she secured sponsorships from a newspaper and Nippon television while most people were telling her that she should stay home with her children. Her desire to mountain climb was contradictory to Japanese culture, which has a saying that the nail that sticks out gets hammered in. For the Japanese, asking questions or admitting you don’t know something is considered an embarrassment. Yet Tabei asked questions and expressed moments of weakness because this was integral to becoming a successful climber. When you’re on the mountain in extreme conditions, you have to be able to admit you need to go a little slower. When Tabei led her team of fourteen female mountain climbers up Everest, they were buried under an avalanche. Sherpas dug them out, and they continued the climb two days later, finally reaching the summit after twelve days.

In 1992, Tabei became the first woman to climb the Seven Summits—the highest point on every continent. So far, Tabei has climbed almost seventy major mountains. She’s also defied the gravity of antiquated Japanese views of women by becoming a speaker, a nature conservationist, and an inspiration to all other women who dare to be the nail that sticks out.

First woman to reach the peak of mount Everest