The first woman to climb Mount Everest was honored by Google on what would have been her 80th birthday.
Junko Tabei, who stood under five feet, conquered the almighty Everest when she was 35. Born in the town of Miharu in Fukushima Prefecture on September 22, 1939, Tabei found her passion for climbing during a school trip when she was 10.
According to NPR, she became a serious mountaineer after graduating from university and ascended the 29,000-foot summit of Everest in 1975. In 1992, Tabei became the first woman to conquer the “Seven Summits,” the highest mountains on all seven continents including Kilimanjaro, Denali, Elbrus, Aconcagua, Carstensz Pyramid, Vinson and Everest.
Tabei also led efforts to protect the environment and is known as a pioneer for woman who defied cultural and societal norms. Tabei founded the Ladies Climbing Club, the first of its kind in Japan.
When women were told to stay home and raise children, Tabei decided to lead a treacherous expedition on Everest made entirely of women. Her women’s club slogan was: “Let’s go on an overseas expedition by ourselves.”
She was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, but continued mountaineering despite her illness. Tabei’s last climb was Japan’s Mount Fuji with a group of high school students in 2011.
According to Japanese public broadcaster NHK, her death was announced on Thursday. Tabei passed at a hospital outside Tokyo in Kawagoe at 77 in 2016.
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