Junko Tabei was a Japanese mountaineer who was the first woman to ascent Mt. Everest and the first woman to ascent the "Seven Summits." The Seven Summits are the highest mountain on each continent (Everest is one of the Seven Summits).
Junko was considered to be a frail child, but she did not let that stop her from starting her mountain climbing career at the age of 10. To continue her climbing passion, she had to buck a Japanese cultural society that believed women should stay home, raise children and serve tea. She started a ladies mountain climbing club in what was considered at the time male dominated territory. And in 1975, she left her daughter with her husband to climb Mt. Everest with a group from her ladies climbing club, gaining fame as the first woman to do so.
In her later years she went back to school and obtained a degree in Environmentalism and spoke out about the amount of tourism happening on Everest and other peaks, especially as it pertained to the amount of human garbage left behind and how it impacts those fragile environments.
Junko inspires me because she did not let her gender define her or prevent her from what she wanted to do, bucking the expectations of the time. When male orientated clubs did not want to accept her, she started her own woman's only club. Her Everest trip was self-financed after many organizations laughed at the idea of her and her woman's group attempting this. She proved them all wrong and contributed to changing the prevailing view of the time of what women were capable of doing.
Thank you Junko, for your inspiration.
Until next time,