Women have been missing out for a long time. They couldn’t sail because it was considered bad luck. They couldn’t enlist in the military as anything other than a nurse, go to space and travel to another country without their husbands.
Today they prove that they can do so much more than cooking or babysitting. Girls don’t want just to have fun. They want to follow their dreams, learn, and challenge themselves.
There are a lot of women who did what they wanted without anyone’s approval. Female climbers, for example.
We associate high mountains with Edmund Hillary, Tenzing Norgay, Reinhold Messner, and Jim Whittaker. However, history has witnessed many female mountain climbers who were as strong and passionate as Hillary and Messner. Each of them had an uneasy path, but they managed to conquer the mountains, prove their strength and determination.
Junko Tabei, ‘that crazy mountain woman’
Junko Tabei was born in 1939 in Japan. Even though parents and teachers considered her a weak child, she started climbing at the age of 10. Junko didn’t want to stop after her parents told her that they couldn’t afford climbing classes any longer. She became a member of the mountain climbing club while she was studying at university. The gender stereotypes were still restrictive at that time. A lot of male mountaineers refused to climb with her. More than that, they were looking down on a girl who dreamed of mountains. Guys in the club couldn’t believe that she wanted to climb because she liked it. They thought that one thing all girls were looking for in the climbing club was a husband. Junko Tabei wasn’t interested in getting married, but, funny enough, she met her husband and father of her two kids while climbing.
In 1969, she formed the Ladies Climbing Club, the motto of the club was “let’s go on an overseas expedition by ourselves.” Junko didn’t listen when people were telling her to forget about mountains and raise kids instead. She was the kind of woman who wanted to try everything. At some point, Junko Tabei realized it was the best time to trek Everest base camp and conquer the Earth’s highest mountain. If you want to follow her steps you should explore kandooadventures.com and see what base camps you can choose on your way up to the top.
In 1975, she became the first woman to reach the summit of Everest. Junko was receiving presents and greetings from the Japanese Government, the King of Nepal, and dozens of Western countries. The world couldn’t believe that that tiny lady managed to come all the way on her own. An interesting fact is that Junko Tabei wasn’t ready for fame; she felt uncomfortable during the interviews and tried to avoid them.
Junko became the first woman to ascent all Seven Summits, and it made her an adventure legend. Until the last days of her life, she didn’t treat climbing like it was her job even though a lot of companies wanted to work with her. The first woman on Everest would make any advertising campaign look great.
However, every time someone asked about her occupation, she was saying ‘I’m a housewife.’
People called her ‘that crazy mountain woman’; she didn’t care. She was climbing even after she was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Junko Tabei died in 2016.
Poorna Malavath, the youngest girl on Everest
Poorna Malavath was born in 2000 at Pakala village, India. When she was growing up, her parents could barely make ends meet; they were earning around 35.000 rupees together (which is $595) a year. To see the world and make her parents proud of her, Poorna was studying pretty hard. Eventually, she was short-listed for Operation Everest as the best student. It took months to prepare for climbing the highest mountain in the world. She was ready to go to Everest after trekking to Darjeeling and Ladakh.
When Poorna saw Everest for the first time in her life, she said ‘We can climb it in a day.’ The 13-years-old girl admitted that she wasn’t afraid to go there since she received excellent training. However, she was scared for a moment when she saw corpses of mountaineers in the Dead Zone (above 8,000 meters).
Poorna Malavath was very happy once they reached the top of the world. She spent there less than 15 minutes, but it made her a hero in India. ‘I just wanted to prove that girls can do everything’ shared Poorna with BBC journalists.
Poorna Malavath was too young to climb the peak from the Nepalese side. The Nepalese officials don’t allow climbers under 16 years old, so the girl climbed the mountain from the Tibetan side, which is considered more difficult.
In 2017, an Indian movie director released a film called Poorna: Courage Has No Limits.
At the moment she is studying at Kamareddy Residential College at Nizamabad; her goal now is to conquer all the seven summits.
Tamae Watanabe, the oldest woman on Everest
Tamae Watanabe has been living at the foot of Japan’s tallest mountain Fuji all her life. She managed to combine her daily office job with climbing adventures. Tamae has climbed Eiger in Switzerland, Lhotse in Nepal and McKinley in Alaska.
When Tamae Watanabe was 63 years old, she decided to conquer the top of the world. At first, Sherpa guides were a bit hesitant about talking an old lady with them to the summit. However, she showed how strong she was, and left no doubt- she was ready. In 2002, she became the oldest woman to stand on peak.
The female climber kept saying that ‘It is never too late.’ Eventually, she broke her own record in 2012 when she was 73 years old. Nowadays Tamae Watanabe spends her days with family and friends in her hometown. As she said, it was fun, but she wouldn’t do this again.
Tamae Watanabe, Junko Tabei, and Poorna Malavath had one thing in common. They didn’t care when other people were telling them ‘it’s impossible.’ They believed that they were strong enough, and proved that mountaineering isn’t only for men.