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world's 1st woman to scale Mt. Everest, dies at 77

Japanese alpinist Junko Tabei, the first woman in the world to scale the peak of Mt. Everest, died of peritoneal cancer at a hospital in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture, on Thursday. She was 77.

Tabei, who began mountain climbing in earnest after graduating from Showa Women’s University in Tokyo in 1962, became the first Japanese woman to reach the peak of 7,555-meter Annapurna III in the Himalayas, in 1970.

She then conquered 8,848-meter Everest, the highest peak in the world, in 1975 as vice captain of the Japanese Women’s Everest Expedition and leader of its climbing party.

By 1992, Tabei scaled all of the world’s so-called seven summits, including Everest, Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and McKinley, currently called Denali, in Alaska, the first such achievement by a woman.

A researcher on waste problems on Everest, she completed a master’s course in comparative social culture at Kyushu University in 2000. In 2007, she was given the Environment Minister’s Award for her efforts for the protection of the mountain environment.

Tabei wrote books and appeared on television to tell people about the joy of mountain climbing.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and peritoneal cancer in 2012, but continued activities including climbing 3,776-meter Mt. Fuji, with students of high schools in areas damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region.

Tabei’s last climbing was in July this year when she went to Mt. Fuji with high school students, according to her family.

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