Junko Tabei, the first woman to conquer Mt Everest (8848m) – the tallest peak on earth, is no more.
She breathed her last on October 20 while undergoing treatment at Saitama Cancer Center. She was 77.
Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), said Japan Mountaineering Association notified him of Tabei’s sad demise, according to Rastriya Samachar Samiti.
Tabei, who was born on September 22, 1939, in Miharu, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, rose to fame when she reached the summit of Mt Everest in May 1975. She was also the first women to complete Seven Summits – conquer the tallest peaks of all continents.
According to BBC, Tabei’s ascent of Mt Everest came 12 days after she was swept away in an avalanche on the mountain. She was dug out by a guide and continued the expedition.
The successful summit was heralded as a symbol of the huge strides Japanese women had made in their long struggle for equality and freedom of choice — strides exemplified in part by Tabei herself forming the Ladies Climbing Club: Japan in 1969 after graduating with a degree in English literature from Showa Women’s University, where she started climbing mountains, the Japan Times wrote.
Tabei visited Nepal more than 20 times after her successful summit. She, along with Sir Edmund Hillary, was among the high profile guests that visited Nepal observed the Golden Jubilee of the first ascent of Mt Everest in 2003.