Growing up, Junko Tabei was called “weak” and “frail.” She first began to climb on a school outing when she was ten. Junko loved climbing and enjoying the beauty of the mountains, especially since mountain climbing was not a competitive sport. She was born on May 23, 1939.

Junko Tabei has climbed many mountains. Which ones? In 1992, her goal was to conquer and defeat the seven summits, which are the highest peaks in each continent. They are named as follows: Kilamanjaro in Africa, the Vinson Massif in Antarctica, Mt. Everest in Asia, Mt. Elbrus in Europe, Mt. Denali in North America, and Mt. Aconcagua in South America. She is a famous woman climber.

Junko was the first woman to climb Mt. Everest. She was also the thirty-ninth person to ever reach the top! That means only thirty-eight men had climbed it before! On the sixteenth of May, in 1975, she led an all-Japanese women expedition up Mt. Everest.  While they were climbing, they encountered a powerful avalanche, which buried Junko with icy hands. She was unconscious for a total of six minutes before their guide could dig her out. Bruised and wounded, Junko courageously led the women forward, sometimes crawling on her hands and knees. She came. She climbed. She conquered. Both the King of Nepal and the Japanese government honored Tabei. She became especially famous for her ascent of Mt. Everest. 

What was the hardest mountain to climb? It was male chauvinism. Junko stated that the most difficult hurdle was people discouraging her, a woman, from climbing. The Japanese society wanted her to stay home and raise a family, like normal Japanese women. This was definitely the most challenging obstacle.

After many years of mountain climbing and after her famous ascent of Mt. Everest, she slowed her mountain climbing and settled down. The most important climb was conquering male chauvinism because if she hadn’t overcome that mountain, she would never have been able to climb. She eventually married and had two children. Today, she is the director of an organization working to preserve mountain environments. She is now about seventy years old.