TT Thursday : Junko Tabei, the first woman to climb Mount Everest; my Weight Loss Challenge Week 26 & 27

TT Thursday : Junko Tabei, the first woman to climb Mount Everest; my Weight Loss Challenge Week 26 & 27

As people have said they liked the inspiring women stories and would like more, today we continue with Junko Tabei who is the first woman to climb Mount Everest. Although considered weak at age 10, an early experience of mountain climbing changed her into a mountaineer so she has been fit most of her life. The challenges she faced were societal roadblocks and expectations of a woman’s career which she overcame. In losing weight or becoming more fit, sometimes the roadblocks we face are the expectations of other people of how they expect us to be, of the norm they are used to and what we seek to change. Having heroes who faced that negativity and overcame it, even though it’s on a much grander scale than what we may be doing, is inspiring. So today I chose Junko Tabei as my hero model. My own progress on my weight loss challenge is on the bottom as usual. And I won $96.59 this week so happy! (affiliate disclosures at the bottom & sidebar)

Honouring High Places: The Mountain Life of Junko Tabei
Junko Tabei, age 35, reach Mount Everest’s summit on May 16, 1975, making her the first woman to do so.   Her passion for mountaineering started at age 10. Even though she was considered a “weak child” she obtained permission to accompany her class to climb Mount Nasu.  In an interview with Brad Frenette for OutsideOnline, Tabei said she experienced was an epiphany on that first climb, “I realized that there are so many things in the world which I have never encountered, and that it is fun to see and learn directly through one’s own experiences. So I became determined to go wherever I could go.”(Frenette, 2017)

In college, Tabei felt isolated at first. She came from a family of seven children and was considered a bit of a country hick as she was from Fukushima and had an accent. She also had difficulty finding people to climb with as it wasn’t a suitable hobby for women at the time. She finally found a woman who also liked mountaineering and they climbed together and became friends. At the time she felt envious that the guys had an Alpine club and had more opportunities and people to climb with.

Later in 1962, she joined a small mountaineering club outside of the university leading me to suspect that women weren’t allowed in the college group. Some men in the mountaineering groups thought she was just looking for a husband, refusing to think she might just want a partner for climbing.  Mountain climbing is dangerous and a partner is a very good safety protocol.  Tabei said, “I began to dream about going to the Himalayas with a team of only women. For that reason, we formed the Ladies Climbing Club.”” (Frenette, 2017)

Formed in 1969, the Joshi Tohan Kurabu (Ladies Climbing Club) became the first all-woman mountaineering group in Japan. When  Joshi-Tohan first applied to the Japanese Mountaineering Association (JMA), they were not accepted.  This was a problem because to be allowed to climb the Himalayas, a group needed to be a member in good standing with the JMA and have a JMA recommendation.  The women applied again until they were accepted. The group set off in 1970 to climb Mount Annapurna in the Himalayas. (Miyazaki, 1970)

Next the group decided to climb Mount Everest.  Tabei recalled, “most of the men in the alpine community were against our plan, saying that it would be impossible to go to Everest on a women’s-only expedition.” (Frenette, 2017) The group was offered permits to other Himalayan mountains but they declined until they could be accepted for Mount Everest. They were accepted in 1971 to be allowed to climb in 1975.  The waiting list for Mount Everest was that long. In the 1970s and 80s, the Nepalese government only allowed one party per route per season. This has changed to the point that mountaineers and others are concerned about the environmental impact by so many climbers.

Tabei spent the next four years searching for sponsors. She met with constant refusals. Tabei said, “Most companies’ reaction was that for women, it’s impossible to climb Mount Everest”.(Horn, 1996) Finally the television station NTV and the daily newspaper Yomiuru sponsored them but not fully. Each woman also had to kick in $5,000 of her own money for the expedition too. The women did everything they could to cut costs even sewing their own sleeping bags and stuffing them with goose down feathers.

Game Changers: The Unsung Heroines of Sports History

Tabei worked hard putting in long hours as a science editor and also tutored part-time piano to fund her avocation.  She met her husband, Masanobu Tabei, on the slopes of Mount Tanigawa, another avid mountaineer.  Her mother disapproved of him because he did not have a college degree.  I wonder what her mother thought of Tabei’s mountainclimbing. He proved to be an unusual husband for the times.  When Junko wanted to quit work to pursue mountaineering, Masanobu supported her decision.  When Junko went to climb Mount Everest, Masanobu took care of their three-year-old daughter while she was away. In the 1970s in Japan, his attitude and support of his wife’s avocation was very rare.

Everest: Reflections From The Top
Finally in 1975, the all-woman expedition had their permit, their funds and 15 women set off. Everest was a difficult climb.  An avalanche hit their encampment at Camp 2. Tabei was pushed under four other members in the same tent that collapsed under the crashing snow.  She felt herself suffocating. She and the other women fell unconscious. Luckily Sherpas dug them out, reviving them.  It took Tabei three days before she could move normally again.  However, other than the recovery period, the party had been lucky and no one suffered any severe injuries. The party leader and the doctor were at the Base Camp when this happened. They called up and told the team to return to Basecamp.  Tabei and the other women wanted to keep climbing so they refused.

The group made it to Camp 4 but then half the Sherpas became ill with altitude sickness.  The Sherpas would climb ahead and create the next camp and carry up the oxygen that the climbers needed to keep climbing.  Initially the summit group was going to be three: Junko Tabei, Yuriko Watanabe, and Ang-Chering Sherpa.  There wouldn’t be enough oxygen for both Tabei and Watanabe so they had to decide who would make it.  Tabei insisted Watanabe go up and Watanabe insisted it should be Tabei.  Finally the party leader, Eiko Hisano, made the call and decided on Tabei. Tabei said, “It was so sad that she had to leave, and I left alone.” (Frenette, 2017) Her Sherpa did accompany her but she was the only one from the group to make the final ascent.

Tomoko Otake for the Japan Times interviewed Tabei in 2012.  Tabei hit a heartdropping challenge on the last 100 feet:

In front of Tabei, who had already cleared numerous danger spots while also coping with the physical and mental stresses of high-altitude climbing, was an icy, knife-edge ridge forming part of the border of Nepal and China.

She would have to make a downward traverse of this ridge for about 14 or 15 meters — knowing that one mistake would send her plunging 5,000 meters on the northern, Chinese side or down to around 6,400 meters on the Nepalese side, where she could just see her Japanese Women’s Everest Expedition’s Camp II.

“I had no idea I would have to face that, even though I’d read all the accounts of previous expeditions,” Tabei recalled recently at her office in Tokyo. “I got so angry at the previous climbers who hadn’t warned me about that knife-edge traverse in their expedition records.”

But there was no turning back. With her eyes fixed on the end of the ridge, Tabei slowly and carefully crawled along sideways, gripping it with her hands as she kept her her upper body on the Chinese side while her lower body was on the Nepalese side, and she tried to get some grip by kicking her crampon points into the ice. “I had never felt that tense in my entire life,” Tabei said. “I felt all my hair standing on end.” (Otake, 2012)


She succeeded and became the first woman to climb Mount Everest on May 16, 1975. She later spoke out on environmental issues on the degradation caused by climbing groups after the Nepalese opened up the route to more climbing groups instead of one group a year. Many climbing groups leave their garbage up there instead of bringing it down which was an issue that her concerned her.  She has led “clean-up” climbs in Japan and the Himalayas.  She also wanted to climb the highest mountain on each continent and on June 28, 1992, became the first woman to climb the Seven Summits (the highest mountains on seven continents):

Mount Everest, world’s highest mountain, 8848m (29,029 ft), border of China’s Tibet and Nepal
Denali (Mt McKinley), 6193m (20,320ft), Alaska, USA, North America
Elbrus, 5642m (18,442 ft), Russia, Europe
Aconcagua, 6959m (22,841ft), Argentina
Carstensz Pyramid, 4883.4m (16,023ft), Indonesia
Kilimanjaro, 5963m (15,092 ft), Tanzania, Africa
Vinson Massif, 4892m (16,050 ft), Antarctica

Women Explorers of the Mountains: Nina Mazuchelli, Fanny Bullock Workman, Mary Vaux Walcott, Gertrude Benham, Junko Tabei (Short Biographies)
children’s book, grades 4 and up, library binding

Junko Tabei died of cancer October 20, 2016.  She was diagnosed in 2012 but continued to climb.  In the summer of 2016, she led a group of young people from Fukushima up Mount Fuji. Remembering how climbing Mount Nasu at age 10 on a school trip had changed her life, I feel she was returning the favor in her turn.



my Weight Loss Challenge Weeks 26 & 27 : won $96.59 and lost

Yay! HealthyWage paid me again! The Pound Shedders Jackpot Challenge has paid off so I’ve won another $96.59, less the $60 I bet.  640 people participated and 302 successfully lost 6%.  I am happiest that it signifies another 6% lost for myself.  In the three months challenge, I went from 223.1 to 209.7 pounds.

I missed posting last week.  So two weeks ago, I hit a new low of 207.6. Today I weighed myself and have hit 204.7, my newest low.  I lost 2.9 pounds, an average of 1.45 per week.  I am slowly but consistently continuing to lose. Remember I originally started at 252.1 six months ago?  It’s so awesome to be in the low 200s.  I can’t wait to be under 200.  It’s just around the corner.  Thanks again and always for all your support and encouragement especially on my frustrated weeks.

I was just noticing today how colorful my diet is.  Before I started all this, my diet was primarily meat and carbs usually noodles or white rice, the colors I ate was mostly browns and white.  So while I cheat occasionally, I have cut white stuff out of my diet mostly: white flour, white salt, white sugar, white salt and white fat (have you noticed when fat congeals, it turns white? so it got on my no white stuff diet). Since I rarely eat meat or carbs now, my food is red, orange, purple, green and all kinds of vibrant colors.  It’s pretty cool.

I am also continuing to do intermittent fasting.  It works for me and I don’t feel deprived. I walk a lot too.

And another reason I think I’m succeeding is I cheat on my diet.  Not every day, not even every other day but maybe once or twice a week.  I’ve built in the cheating and I’ve found it lets me cut back the stuff I love without cutting them out so I don’t miss them and they’re not on my mind.  I don’t crave them in the way I do when I cut them completely out. Plus I am finding I don’t like them as much as before.  Like potatoe chips which I used to love.  I had them on my cheat day a few weeks ago.  And guess what?  They were too salty.  I’m getting acclimated to not adding salt to food.

Plus salt packs on the water weight so the next day when I stepped on the scale?  I added four pounds!!!  The four pounds was gone within a couple of days but talk about negative reinforcement.  It pretty much put spade to any desire for chips.  And I no longer like store-bought or fast food cookies because they are too too sweet. Homemade cookies still taste pretty darn good though so I guess premade cookies add extra sugar. Cake and ice cream?  They are definitely still on my cheat diet. So I am changing but not totally and I’m okay with that.  I am beginning to see how this is becoming not a diet but a doable lifelong lifestyle for me.

My car is still down so I still haven’t climbed any mountains.  I was hoping to climb a short easy one like Camelback Mountain but one close to Tucson. One of the reason, I chose Junko was I was hoping to do a hike but have put it off now.  I have signed on for working at Xmas at the Post Office.  It’s a temp job so it’ll probably be a month, or less, once the volume dies.  I just need an infusion of cash as my savings is getting extremely low.

Here is how I’m doing on my current HealthyWage challenges.

name end date goal expected ontrack?
Poundshedders 11/26/18 209.7 209.7 done, paid 96.59
Big Losers 12/3/18 209.7 210.27 done, to be paid next week
Falling Pounds 12/26 206.7 210.8 done, weighed out
Big Buck Losers 1/2 202.3 205.2 yes
Healthier Holidays 1/6 202.3 205.8 yes
Scale Watchers 1/16 202.7 207.7 yes
Winter Winners 2/20 197.6 207.8 yes
Pound Droppers 2/27 197.6 208.9 yes
WeightLoss Takeoff 3/3 197.6 209.5 yes
Shrinking Scale s 3/6 193.5 205.6 yes
Healthy Wager 6/4 187.1 217.8 yes

I love HealthyWage.  The 3-month 6% challenges are really working for me. I started Big Losers at the same time as Poundshedders but it won’t pay out until next week.  Falling Pounds just opened their final weigh-out window so my hitting 205 allowed me to film my final weigh-out video a couple of days ago. The weigh-out window opens up two weeks before the final day.  I try to be at the goal weight when the window opens so I don’t have to worry about it.  I extended the big HealthyWage Healthy Wager bet another 6 months so I didn’t get the $768 on December 4th but I’m pretty certain I’ll get it June 4th.  I also joined a few more 6% challenges because I just finished a few. The cool thing is that if I win the new ones, weighing out in February, I will be under 200.  I like the smaller manageable goals of the 6% challenges.


A Final Interview With Junko Tabei : A few months before Junko Tabei died, she looked back on her summit of Everest, and what drove her to keep climbing
by Brad Frenette, Outside Online, October 20, 2017

Japanese Women’s Annapurna III Expedition, 1970
by Eiko Miyazaki, The Himalayan Journal

Biography – Junko Tabei, Climber
by Claudia Marinaro, The Heroine Collective

The First Woman to Reach the Summit of Mount Everest
Rejected Princesses

Junko Tabei : The first woman atop the world
by Tomoko Otake, The Japan Times, May 27, 2012

No Mountain Too High for Her
by Robert Horn, Sports Illustrated, April 29, 1996

Game Changers: The Unsung Heroines of Sports History
By Molly Schiot

Junko Tabei

The First Woman to Reach the Summit of Mount Everest
Top China Travel  (I found the timeline of her accomplishments useful)

Junko Tabei


I am an affiliate for HealthyWage because I like them and studies prove people with a little financial incentive to lose weight have a significantly higher percentage of success. It worked for me on several 6% loss challenges so far. In the above post text, the HealthyWage links are affiliate links only but you can also choose to join by a friends link. If you join through the links above, I’ll get a small fee whether you and/or I succeed or fail. However, they also have a friends link where we both earn only if we both succeed at the main HealthyWager challenge — the added motivation of social pressure! If you join up by clicking this friends link, it adds a $40 to your HealthyWager award and $40 to my HealthyWager award but only if we both succeed. Neither of us gets the $40 if either person fails. The $40 is for HealthyWager challenges only and not the other challenges like the 6% individual challenge or the team challenge. I have not seen any info if that includes either person extending the challenge. The HealthyWage affiliate link doesn’t matter if anyone succeeds but there is no benefit for the friend, just for the affiliate no matter what kind of challenge they join. Joining through the friends link also lets you view your friend on the dashboard: you’ll see their name and what % they’ve lost so far but not the actual weight. That’s private unless you make it public.

I am also an affiliate for Amazon: “We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.”

17 Replies to “TT Thursday : Junko Tabei, the first woman to climb Mount Everest; my Weight Loss Challenge Week 26 & 27”

  1. Congratulations on the new weight loss, that is fannn tastic. Christmas has got to be an extra hard time even if you’re on a steady climb downward. I know it is for me and I think I’m at my highest weight right now. I can imagine how going up against Everest would get you in shape and help prepare you for the end. Very inspiring, both of you.

    1. I agree, the holidays are hard. So many goodies out there — that’s why I build cheating twice a week so I can eat a couple of cookies or a slice of cake. If I didn’t, I’d go nuts.

      A lot of people pack on winter weight up north so you’re not alone. Arizona days still are in the 60s &70s so it’s different here. That’s why I can go walking during the day although nights get cold.

      I know I focus on weight but weight isn’t as important as fitness. They did a study of overweight people, thin people and medium — both fit and unfit. The healthiest people were the fit ones regardless of weight. It’s hard up north though in the winter to get exercise as it gets so cold. I tried cross country skiing in Japan which I loved. It was about the only thing that would get me outdoors when I lived in northern Japan for 18 months. But you’re probably used to the cold and go out all the time. I’m like a bear and would want to hibernate indoors for the winter.

      Thank you for reading the post and I’m glad you found Tabei inspiring and me too (even though I doubt I’ll ever even see Everest. I might get a geotrackable and send it there for a mission tho, lol).

  2. This is a great post on a lot of levels…inspiring story and congrats on your continued weight loss.

    1. Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed the post about Tabei. And I appreciate the congrats. They help keep me going during the plateau times.

    1. Me too! I’m very excited about that because it’ll be a milestone to lose 50. I like round numbers like 50 and 100.

        1. Yeah, I’m surprised at how well that combination works. It’s important not to feel deprived but also I’m beginning to realize I think the common idea that we should eat three meals a day doesn’t really work in a modern lifestyle where we mostly sit. Unless it’s three very small meals, maybe. I’ll have to figure out what I can do normally to maintain once I’ve finished. Then I’ll be in your position, staying in balance — not too much and not too little

  3. I didn’t know about the first woman doing that climb. I do now.

    Way to go on your weight loss challenge. That rocks and I’m so proud of you.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend. ♥

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