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73-Year-Old Becomes Oldest Woman to Summit Mount Everest

It’s been an exciting week for the older generation of outdoor athletes. First, a 69-year-old hiker was stung almost 300 times by killer bees and survived.

Then, on Saturday, in a feat of even more incredible badassery,  73-year-old Tamae Watanabe of Japan reached the summit of Mount Everest  becoming the oldest woman to ever climb the mountain (the oldest man was a Min Bahadur Sherchan of Nepal, who did it at 76).

Several factors make this accomplishment even cooler than it first appears.

  • Wanatabe was already the oldest woman in the world to summit Everest, having climbed the mountain at the age of 63. She smashed her own record by 10 years just for the hell of it.
  • She left the last high altitude camp Friday night and climbed all night long, arriving at the summit on Saturday morning.
  • Conditions on Everest have been harsher than normal this year, causing many teams of fit young climbers to cancel their expeditions, but this didn’t stop Watanabe.
  • It was windier than usual on Saturday when Watanabe reached the peak and descended.
  • Three others climbers died in summit bids (while a fourth may have died after simply losing it) on the south side mountain over the weekend, climbing at the same, or almost the same, time as Watanabe. Watanabe was, however, on the north side.

I have been mulling the idea for some time now. Ever since I realized that climbing Mount Everest is a test of physical endurance, rather than technical climbing skill, I’ve considered trying it.

Tamae Watanabe has inspired me. It is official–I must climb Mount Everest before I die. Preferably, within the next five years to ensure that Mount Everest isn’t the place that I die.

Lead photo by Darcy McCarty

***This photo is not of of Tamaei Watanabe nor of Mount Everest and is purely for illustrative and inspirational purposes.***

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6 Responses to 73-Year-Old Becomes Oldest Woman to Summit Mount Everest

  1. Megan @ Roamancing May 21, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

    That’s really inspiring. I hope I’m that fit when I’m 73!

    • Matt Gibson May 22, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

      I hope I’m that fit when I’m 35 🙂

  2. Ava Apollo May 21, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    I’m suddenly less proud of myself for not walking out of spin class early this morning. I thought THAT was a feat!

  3. Bret @ Green Global Travel May 22, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    It’s an amazing accomplishment, but I’m not sure how I feel about it. Having read “Into Thin Air” many years ago and spoken to Jon Krakauer first-hand about it, I feel as if there’s a certain hubris in feeling it necessary to prove oneself by “conquering” mountain summits that so frequently claim lives. Not here to judge anyone else, but I value my own life far too much to risk losing it on something like that.

    • Matt Gibson May 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

      I’m sure that you’re right about the hubris. It’s likely a big part of the reason that many climbers climb Everest (though I have a hard time imagining Watanabe to be one of them). Pride is only part of the equation though. Like in any endeavour in life, athletes are constantly trying to get to the next level. For long distance swimmers, it’s longer swims. For weightlifters its heavier weights. For climbers it’s taller mountains.

      I don’t think there’s a lot of difference between that frame of mind and us as bloggers trying to constantly improve and expand our blogs.

      It’s a lifetime pursuit. You could argue that some bloggers try to grow their blogs to inflate their big egos (this is definitely true of some), and you’d be right to say that a lot of climbers climb Everest for the same reason.

      However, most bloggers try to improve their blogs because it’s a challenge and a passion. I’ve never been on Everest, but I’d expect that’s the same reason that most climbers are up there.

      For most people, I think that it’s probably not as much about conquering a mountain, and more about conquering themselves.

      I also think that most deaths on Everest are preventable and caused by people allowing their pride to push them into bad decisions (not turning back when they should). I like how this post mentions the good decisions made by the climbers who turned back this year: http://su.pr/2w83zu

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