A Woman to Know: Junko Tabei

This willpower you cannot buy with money or be given by others — it rises from your heart. — Dodie Smith

(image via Wikimedia Commons)

"I can't understand why men make all this fuss about Everest," Junko once said. "It's only a mountain."

As a 40-year-old housewife, she first attempted an Everest expedition in 1975 — and in doing so became the first woman to scale the world's tallest mountain. Back home in Tokyo, city residents gossiped: it wasn't fitting, they argued, that a mother attempt such feats. But after worldwide acclaim and her success climbing the Seven Summits, younger women in Japan hailed Junko as a seminal figure who helped changed the country's perception of women's roles and women's work.

​She continued climbing mountains well into her 70s. Just seven years before her death, she crossed the 56th mountain expedition off her list. Later in life, she advocated for the conservation and protection of Everest. On several later summits, she pointed to the litter and erosion as proof that the mountain "needs a rest now."

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