A Japanese mountaineer and the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest and to ascend the Seven Summits (ie climbing the highest peak on every continent.)
After graduating from the Showa Women’s University in Tokyo, Japan, Junko Tabei joined a number of men’s climbing clubs and soon climbed all the major mountains in Japan, including Mount Fuji.
In 1969, Junko Tabei established the Joshi-Tohan (Women’s Mountaineering) Club for women only, the first in Japan. The club’s slogan was “Let’s go on an overseas expedition by ourselves”. Tabei later stated that she founded the club as a result of how she was treated by male mountaineers of the time: some men, for example, refused to climb with her, while others thought she was only interested in climbing as a way to find a husband.
In 1970, the Joshi-Tohan Club embarked on their first expedition, climbing the Nepalese mountain Annapurna III. They successfully reached the summit using a new route on the south side, achieving the first female and first Japanese ascent of the mountain. In 1975, the Joshi-Tohan Club decided to tackle Mount Everest and created a team known as the Japanese Women’s Everest Expedition (JWEE). After a long training period, the team made the expedition in May and attracted much media attention.
The asteroid 6897, discovered in 1987, was named after Tabei. In 2019, a mountain range on Pluto was also named Tabei Montes, in her honour.