women mountaineering


This season, Mt Everest has seen more successful summits than ever before.  A record number in excess of 700 summits has smashed the previous record of 667 set in 2013.

The recent news of Lhakpa Sherpa (44), from Nepal setting a new record for the greatest number of successful summits (9) by a women of Mt Everest sparked our interest in the history of female climbing on the highest peak on the planet.  We’ve put together a list of female first on the mountain referred to by the local Sherpa people as Sagarmatha which translates roughly to “goddess of the sky” or “mother of the universe.”

First woman to reach the summit of Mt Everest: Junko Tabei, Japan, 16th May 1975.

Tabei was not only the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, but was also the first woman to ascend all Seven Summits by climbing the highest peak on every continent

In 1969 aged 30, Tabei formed the Ladies Climbing Club: Japan (LCC). The club’s slogan was “Let’s go on an overseas expedition by ourselves,” and was the first of its kind in Japan. Tabei has been quoted as saying that her motivation for founding the club was a result of how she was treated by male mountaineers of the time; some men refused to climb with her, while others thought she was only interested in climbing as a way to find a husband.

Youngest female to summit Mt Everest: Malavath Purna 13 years and 11 months old from India.  On 25 May 2014, Purna scaled the summit of Mount Everest (she is just one month older than the current youngest world record holder).  In preparation for climbing Mount Everest she trekked to mountains of Ladakh and Darjeeling.  She has since climbed Mt Elbrus in Russia.

Oldest women to summit Mt Everest.  Tamae Watanabe 73 years and 180 days old from Japan summited on the 19 May 2012.   Ten years almost to the day since she set the previous record for the oldest female climber to summit at age 63 years and 177 days old in May 2002.

She began mountain climbing at 28 years old.   In 1977 she climbed Mount McKinley. She then climbed Mont Blanc, Mount Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua.

Most ascents by a woman: Lhakpa Sherpa from Nepal has successfully summited Mt Everest 9 times.

Lhakpa, who grew up with 11 siblings received no formal mountain climbing training.  She first climbed Mt Everest from Nepalese side in 2000.  In May 2003 she reached the summit with her sister and brother; Ming Kipa and Mingma Gelu.   Lhakpa reportedly scaled Mt Everest eight months after the birth of her first daughter and while she was two months pregnant with her second child.

Youngest Australian to summit & youngest women ever to have summitted from both sides of Everest:  Alyssa Azar from Queensland.

Alyssa has made the summit twice by two different routes. 2016 by Nepal (southside) and 2018 by Tibet (northside). She is the youngest woman ever to have summitted from both sides of Everest.  She is the youngest Australian to have made the summit which she did at 19yo.

She has also climbed Elbrus (Russia), Aconcagua (South America), Kilimanjaro (Africa), Ama Dablam (Nepal) and made an attempt on the 8th highest mountain in the world when she was 16yo however weather did not permit the summit as the mountain ended up being closed to climbing after their first two rotations.

Alyssa was on Everest in 2014, 2015 and the summit in 2016 and 2018.

First dual ascent made by a woman to the summit of Mt Everest within five days: Anshu Jamsenpa from India on the 21st May 2017.  Anshu Jamsenpa is an Indian mountaineer and the first woman in the world who scaled the summit of the Mount Everest twice in a season (and also just within 5 days).   It is also the fastest double ascents of the tallest crest by a woman.