Junko Tabei, first woman to conquer Everest, dies at 77

TOKYO — Japanese mountaineer Junko Tabei, the first woman to conquer Mt. Everest in 1975, died of peritoneal cancer at a Saitama hospital Oct. 20, her family said. She was 77.

Even after reaching the world’s highest 8,848-meter peak at age 35, the Fukushima native actively climbed mountains abroad.

In 1992, she became the first woman to complete the “Seven Summits,” or ascending the highest point on each of the seven continents.

Before attaining the fame, Tabei, a graduate of Showa Women’s University, trained as a member of a mountaineers’ club that was established to promote climbing abroad by women.

Her quest to scale mountains continued even after she turned 70, as she traveled abroad for climbing five or six times a year, and had scaled peaks in over 60 countries and regions.

In 1995 she earned a prize from the Japanese prime minister and in 2008 was awarded the 2008 Mountain Hero Award by the Mountain Institute in Washington, according to her Website.

To help lift the spirits of survivors of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan, Tabei promoted climbing mountains in Fukushima Prefecture, one of the hardest hit areas in the disaster.

She authored a number of books including on aging and her biography in which she wrote about her quest to conquer mountains as a housewife.

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