When we talk about mountaineering, for most of us, the knowledge is restricted to the old familiar names such as Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norway. Today, the world has witnessed women’s interest and initiation in fields of adventure, where dauntless courage, willpower and determination are prerequisite. Women are exploring their maximum potential, breaking world records and becoming an inspiration to all the others, out there. Breaking stereotypes, challenging setbacks, scaling new heights are one part of their life. Apart from these breathtaking adventures, these ladies have taken responsibility to change the mindset and situation of the society.
So, let’s meet 10 female mountaineer who have achieved feat and are epitome of bravery and strength—
1. Arunima Sinha (India)
Arunima Sinha, a former volleyball player from Uttar Pradesh, India is the first amputee to scale Mt. Everest in the world. On April 11, while travelling in a train to Delhi, she met with a group of chain snatchers who threw her out of the train. The incident caused her a leg. This was a turning point in her life and with firm determination and strong willpower, she conquered Mt. Everest on 21st May, 2013. She says, “Leg is but obviously required to climb Mt. Everest, but what is needed most is a brave heart.” She has written a book “Born Again On The Mountain”, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which tells her journey from the railways tracks to the summit of the Everest. Presently, she encourages people to have ‘never quit’ attitude when faced with adversity. Shaheed Chandra Shekhar Azad Viklang Khel Academy, governed by Arunima Foundation is an initiative to provide guidance and support to the down trodden and needy. The Padma Shri recipient aspires to scale all the highest summits of the seven continents. A Hollywood movie is being made, based on the life of Arunima Sinha.
2. Tamae Watanabe (Japan)
Tamae Watanabe is the oldest women to summit the Everest at the age of 73. She broke her own record, which she made in the year 2002. She started her career as a mountaineer at the age of 28. She has also climbed Mount McKinley, Mont Blanc, Mount Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua. She once said, “If children have an interest in nature, they will understand. I want them to become people who appreciate the consequences the next generation will suffer if we destroy our natural surroundings.”
3. Tashi and Nungshi Malik (India)
The adventures stories of these two twin sister will get you goose bumps. They together have nailed new records such as ”First female twins to scale Mt Everest (at 21 years of age)”, ”First siblings & twins to climb Seven Summits”, “First siblings & twin and youngest persons to complete Adventurers Grand Slam & the Three Pole Challenge” and many others. Hailing from Haryana, the two girls seek stimulation for their common interest from their father, retired Indian Army officer, Col Virendra Singh Malik. They say, “Mountaineering has taught us that life contracts or expands in proportion to one’s courage—the courage to cross the barriers in our minds, to cross the mountains in our hearts.”
4. Junko Tabei (Japan)
Forty one years ago, on 16th May 1975, Junko became the first woman to climb Mount Everest. She did it when society was still orthodox and considered mountaineering to be a men adventure. “Back in 1970s in Japan, it was still widely considered that men were the ones to work outside and women would stay at home,” said Tabei. She has also achieved the title of the first women to reach all the seven summits. In her interview, she had put forward the issue of environmental damages caused to the mountains. She even researched in Kyushu University on garbage problem of Everest. Junko campaigns for sustainable mountaineering and heads “The Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan”.
5. Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner (Austria)
The interest in climbing mountains aroused in her early childhood days when she was growing in Spital am Pyhrn, Austria. Gerlinde’s first venture was at the age of 13, she successfully climbed 2028 metre peak “Sturzhahn”. She decided to become a professional mountain climber after climbing the Nanga Parbat in 2003. After six unsuccessful attempts and thirteen years of climbing, she became the first woman to climb the 14 eight-thousanders in alpine style, without supplemental oxygen or porters. She won the prestigious National Geographic Explorer of the Year Award in 2012. When she received the title, she said, “With enthusiasm and will-power, you can reach your dreams.”
6. Jaahnavi Sriperambuduru (India)
Jaahnavi Sriperambuduru is the youngest girl to scale Mt. Elbrus, Europe’s tallest peak on 31st July 2015 at the tender age of 13. The Indian girl completed Aussie 10 Challenge in 4 days, which targets at climbing all the 10 highest peaks of Snowy mountains. Other than these, she had also set new records of being the youngest person to have reached the summit of Stok Kangri and Mt. Kosciuszko. She is also a motivational speaker and works for issues like girl empowerment and gender equality. She has recently started a campaign ‘#AmPrettyTough‘ which advocates the notion of ‘Let’s look beyond looks‘.
7. Cecilie Skog (Norway)
Meet the Norwegian woman—Cecilie Slog, working as a professional adventurer, guide and professor after summiting Mt. Everest in 2004. Skog is the first woman to summit the tallest peaks on all seven continents and reach both the North and South Poles. In the month of January 2010, she successfully attempted the first unassisted and unsupported crossing of Antarctica. She has shown similar interest in other sports adventures like sailing. “I learned one thing on that trip; it is not important to reach the goal, but to go outside, to try your best, and have fun.”— Cecilie Slog
8. Sophia Danenberg (America)
Sophia is the first African American women to reach the peak of Mt. Everest. She signed for the unguided climb, where she had to decide when to attempt for summit or which route to take. She was suffering bronchitis and frostbite on her cheeks but her perseverance was way more stronger than her difficulties. “It’s not really about having the ability to climb. It’s about this ability to say, ‘I can do it really well.”— Sophia Danenberg
9. Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita (Nepal)
The love for mountains and thrill for adventures run in the family of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita. She is the first Nepalese women to become mountaineering instructor and is working as a guide in the Himalayan terrain and around the globe. She also showed distinguished humanitarian efforts, when a severe earthquake hit Nepal last year in April. Mountaineer Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita has been awarded the 2016 National Geographic People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year. Mary Anne Potts, editorial director of National Geographic Adventure said “Her tireless efforts to serve her fellow Nepalis have made her a role model for women, the people of Nepal and climbers.”
10. Meagan McGrath (Canada)
Meagan McGrath’s fascination for mountains, gravitated her to accomplish the seven summits in May 2007. In January 2008, she became the First Canadian Woman to summit the Carstenz Pyramid version of the Seven Summits, becoming the only Canadian woman to achieve both versions of this mountain challenge. Mcgrath also completed the first Canadian Solo Ski to the South Pole in 2010, during which she traveled 1,095 km hauling a 200 pound sled.