Women on Everest

To celebrate International Women’s Day, I’m not going to go all Destiny’s Child on you. Question. But this post is dedicated to three quite frankly, brilliant women.

Junko Tabei

On the 16th May 1975, Junko Tabei from Japan, created history by becoming the first ever woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Despite being buried by in an avalanche 12 days earlier and being rescued by local Sherpas, she decided to carry on to reach the roof of the world.

Whilst still a child, she suffered with weak lungs and only ever grew to 4 foot and 9 inches (nearly my height!). At aged 10, Junko first became attracted to mountains after climbing Mt. Nasu with a teacher, it suited her as it wasn’t a ‘competitive sport’.

In 1992, she also became the first woman to complete the Seven Summits – the highest mountain in each of the 7 continents.

– Mt. Everest – 29,029 feet, on the border of Tibet and Nepal.
– Mt. Denali – 20,320 feet, the highest mountain peak in North America.
– Mt. Elbrus – 18,442 feet, an inactive volcano in Russia
– Mt. Aconcagua – 22,841 feet, the Andes, South America.
– Mt. Carstensz Pyramid – 16,023 feet, Indonesia
– Mt. Kilimanjaro – 15,092 feet, Tanzania, Africa.
– Mt. Vinson – 16,050 feet, Antarctica

There was never a question in my mind that I wanted to climb that mountain, no matter what other people said.” – Junko Tabei

Pasang Lhamu Sherpa

On 22nd April 1993, Pasang Lhamu Sherpa summited Mount Everest, and was the first Nepali woman to do so. Having been brought up in a mountaineering family, she spent years working with her father as a trekking guide.

During the decent of Everest, tragedy struck when severe weather conditions resulted in Pasang Lhamu Sherpa loosing her life on the South Summit.

She was the first woman awarded with the Nepal Tara (Star), the government also issued a stamp with her name and erected a statue of her in Kathmandu.

Pasang Lhamu Sherpa gate
A gate dedicated to Pasang Lhamu Sherpa at the start of the Everest Base Camp trail.

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Chhurim Sherpa

Since Pasang Lhamu Sherpa summited, 21 other Nepalese women have climbed to the top of Everest, but 29 year old, Chhurim Sherpa broke a record by becoming the first woman to summit twice in one season.

Reaching the peak on the 12th May 2012, she set out for the summit again with a different team just a week later. Considering she had no prior summits on Everest, makes her achievement even more astounding.

The biggest problem Chhurim Sherpa admitted, was being surrounded by male sherpas.
It turns out to be very tough for women like me because there are no toilets. Five of us had to share a tent – it was a bit awkward.”

I hear ya sister.

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