Sir Edmund Hillary may have been one of the first to climb Mount Everest, but for female explorers, they had to climb more than mountains to reach their professional peak. Here are our five best, and strongest, adventurous women.
Often times when we think of explorers or travellers, we think of men, bearded and grim out in search of excitement and adventures. However, what some history books may have forgotten is the strong, globetrotting women who’ve changed the game of travels, and we’re going to be recognizing a few of the many.
1. Isabella Bird, Explorer
“It is a strange life up here on the mountain side, but I like it, and never yearn after civilization. ”
Taking the first one way back and we’re talking the 1800’s. At the age of 40, Isabella Bird took a trip to her doctor’s office to find a solution for her insomnia and back pain. Rather than prescribe medication, her doctor left her with a better cure: adventure would do you good. In the following years, it was rare for her to be found at home in Edinburgh.
Instead, she was off exploring Tibet and Japan, Kurdistan and the Rocky Mountains. Bird wrote vivid accounts of her travels, even documenting them through photographs. In 1892, she became the first female Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. Kudos to you Ms. Bird.
2. Junko Tabei, Mountaineer
"Technique and ability alone do not get you to the top; it is the willpower that is the most important."
― Junko Tabei
Junko is an accomplished Japanese Mountaineer, whom at the age of 36, was famous for being the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Although it was not easy for Tabei as she it was hard for her to be accepted among the male-dominated mountaineering world.
Through perseverance, dedication and strength, she became the first woman to ascend to the highest peak on every continent - also known as the “Seven Summits”. Now that’s an impressive experience to have under your resume.
Note: if you're planning your next climbing adventure, don't forget to check out our "how to stay secured with backpack straps" blog.
3. Steph Davis, Rock Climber
“Climbing, simply and joyfully, is the way I love the world.”
With impeccable climbing achievements that span 25 years, Steph’s experience is jam packed with some of the toughest climbs. She was the first woman to free climb the Salathe Wall, and the second woman to free climb El cap in less than 24 hours.
If scaling the highest mountains wasn't enough, Davis didn't just limit herself to rock climbing, she even took on the art of skydiving and BASE jumping. If that’s not impressive, her resume of difficult rock climbs and high altitude mountains include Yosemite and Karakorum.
4. Bhakti Sharma, Open Swimmer
“It's not everyday that a penguin comes to cheer you up.”
― Bhakti Sharma
A talented open swimmer, Bhakti Sharma is praised for her achievements after setting a world record for swimming 1.4 miles in less than an hour in the freezing waters of the Antarctic ocean. She is the youngest and first Asian female to accomplish this.
She has broken records and has shown time and time again that she is not afraid of the deep blue, as she’s swum across four oceans, eight channels and seas. She was even awarded the Tenzing Norgay National Award - the highest national award for sports in India.
5. Edurne Pasaban, Mountaineer
"I’m happiest when up there. And being happy is so important in life"
― Edurne Pasaban
At only 13, Edurne Pasaban completed her first climbing expedition, and since then, mountain climbing has become a pivotal part of her life. By the age of 16, the Spanish mountaineer trekked up Mont Blanc (4,810 meters) and later became the first woman to climb all 14 of the world’s eight-thousander peaks (8,000 meters).
However, her life lies beyond her achievements in the mountains. With great initiatives she’s taken on, Pasaban has been rewarded countless times due to her dedication and hard work. From the Gold Medal for Sporting Merit to the Queen Sofia Price for Best Sportsperson of the Year in 2011, she’s truly an accomplished adventurer.
Mandukhai the Wise - Honorable Mention
We couldn't wrap up the list without mentioning this Mongolian Empress who embodied strength and wisdom. Queen Mandukhai (1449 - 1510), was the Khatun - female form of the word Khan as in Ghenghis Khan - of the Northern Yuan dynasty based in Mongolia.
She brought the constant civil wars amongst Mongol tribes to an end and wielded great influence both in court and military matters. She fought in battles herself - even while pregnant with twins! Now you can see why we had to give her an honorable mention.
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