Woman, 71, seeks to show age is no bar on Everest


Kathmandu : Days after a 13-year-old boy announced his plan to summit Mt Everest, a 71-year-old Japanese woman is trying to show the world that age is no bar if you want to conquer the world’s highest peak.

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Eiko Funahashi, a 71-year-old lawyer from Tokyo, is headed for the 8,848-metre peak through the southern route via Nepal, the same way taken by the first Everest conquerors, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa in 1953.

The determined Funahashi had sought to achieve the feat in 2006 as well, at the age of 67. However, while five climbers from the 11-member Dream Everest Expedition in 2006 reached the top, she could not.

Now she is back as part of the nine-member Himalayan Expedition Everest that is led by New Zealander Mark Wynton Woodward, who had earlier climbed the Everest, and has six Chinese climbers, including two women.

If she succeeds this time, Funahashi would set the formidable record of being the oldest woman to conquer Mt Everest.

Most Everest achievements by women climbers are from Japan.

While Junko Tabei from Japan was the first woman to stand on the peak, the oldest woman climber to summit Everest till now is Tame Watanabe. Watanabe scaled the peak in May 2002 at the age of 63, breaking the record of Polish Anna Czerwinska who succeeded in 2000 when she was 50.

Funahashi’s attempt in 2006 is already part of the Everest annals with a documentary made on it, “Elders went to Mt Everest”.

A 60-year-old woman is also attempting Mt Everest this time: Malgorzata Jolanta Watroba, an electrical engineer of Polish roots who is now an Australian citizen.

There are several male climbers in their 60s who are also heading for the mountain, the oldest so far being John Steven Dahlem, a 66-year-old from California.

The oldest climber to have tamed Mt Everest is Nepal’s Min Bahadur Sherchan, who climbed it in 2008, when he was 76, and has announced his wish to try it again when he is 80.

California has also sent the youngest Everest challenger: 13-year-old schoolboy Jordan Romero.

Romero’s attempt has generated keen interest as well as controversy due to his age. He is making the ascent through Tibet as Nepal’s laws bar climbers below 16 from attempting to summit Mt Everest.

However, there are no age restrictions in Tibet.