StatCrunch: ladies of thin air – beyond Wanda’s footprints.

( With only Annapurna left, Oh Eun Sun is currently leading the world’s14x8000er female rank.

But who was the first woman to summit an 8000er? And what is the history of women in Himalaya? ExWeb’s Rodrigo Granzotto Peron continues his interesting crunch of the Himalayan stats, focusing this time on the ladies of thin air.

Women’s 8000ers
By Rodrigo Granzotto Peron

I – First Female Ascents on 8000ers:

EV – 1975 – Junko Tabei (JAP)
K2 – 1986 – Wanda Rutkiewicz (POL), Liliane Barrard (FRA)
KG – 1998 – Ginette Harrison (UK)
LH – 1996 – Chantal Mauduit (FRA)
MK – 1990 – Kitty Calhoun (USA)
CH – 1984 – Vera Komarkova, Margita Sterbova (CZE)
DH – 1982 – Lutgaarde Vivijs (BEL)
MN – 1974 – Naoko Nakaseko, Masako Uchida, Meiko Mori (JAP)
NP – 1984 – Liliane Barrard (FRA)
AN – 1978 – Vera Komarkova (CZE), Irene Miller (USA)
GI – 1982 – Marie-Jose Valençot (FRA)
BP – 1983 – Krystyna Palmowska (POL)
GII – 1975 – Anna Okopinska, Halina Kruger-Syrokomska (POL)
SH – 1981 – Junko Tabei (JAP)

First: Manaslu – last: Kangchenjunga – Everest: two (!) female ascents in 1975

The table shows that the first 8000er summited by women was not Everest.

Members of an all-female Japanese expedition, Naoko Nakaseko, Masako Uchida and Meiko Mori topped-out Manaslu in 1974, one year before fellow Japanese Tabei Junko completed her Everest feat.

Junko became world famous for being the first woman to summit Everest on May 16th, 1975 (via the south side). Few know that only 10 days later, Tibetan Ms. Phantog topped-out Everest via the north side.

The last 8000er to be summited by a woman for the first time was, very recently, Kangchenjunga in 1998.

First female doubles: Junko, Vera and Liliane (Wanda permitting)

By her summit of Shisha Pangma in 1981, Junko became the first to bag two female 8000er virgins.

Three years later in 1984, Czech Vera Komarkova summited another female first – Cho Oyu – after becoming the first woman to summit Annapurna in 1978.

However, I have also included French Liliane Barrard, who completed the first female ascents of Nanga Parbat (1984) and K2 (1986).

It is a controversial subject though as K2’ first female ascent is credited to Wanda Rutkiewicz who actually climbed together with Liliane on the summit push. Wanda was faster and topped out a mere one hour ahead of the French.

In my opinion, the two women deserve to share the achievement and I believe Wanda would not oppose to this, had she been alive.

II – Female 8000ers historical ranking

01x8000er – Naoko Nakaseko, Masako Uchida and Meiko Mori (JAP) [1974]
02x8000ers – Junko Tabei (JAP) [1981]
03x8000ers – Wanda Rutkiewicz (POL) [1986]
04x8000ers – Wanda Rutkiewicz (POL) [1987]
05x8000ers – Wanda Rutkiewicz (POL) [1989]
06x8000ers – Wanda Rutkiewicz (POL) [1990]
07x8000ers – Wanda Rutkiewicz (POL) [1991]
08x8000ers – Wanda Rutkiewicz (POL) [1991]
09x8000ers – Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner (AUT) [2006]
10x8000ers – Nives Meroi (ITA) [2007]
11x8000ers – Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner (AUT) [2008]
12x8000ers – Edurne Pasaban (SPA) [2009]
13x8000ers – Oh Eun-Sun (S-K) [2009]
14x8000ers – ???

Wanda’s kingdom

The 80’s and the 90’s were dominated by the first woman 8000er collector, the astonishing Wanda Rutkiewicz, widely considered the most talented high-altitude lady climber ever.

Polish Wanda summited Everest (1978), Nanga Parbat (1985), K2 (1986), Shisha Pangma (1987), Gasherbrum II (1989), Gasherbrum I (1990), Cho Oyu (1991) and Annapurna (1991). Intended to become her 9th 8000er, Kangchenjunga took Wanda’s life one year later – and the world lost an icon.

It would take 15 years for another woman to equal Rutkiewicz’s record.

Friday, final: Individual and National female ranking

Author’s Notes:
a) The lists are updated to October/2009.
b) Only confirmed main summits are accepted. Non-proved claims, fore-summits (like Shisha Pangma Central, Broad Peak’s Rocky/Fore-Summit, etc.) and disputed summits are discharged. Some facts were proof-checked with Miss Hawley’s Himalayan Database.
c) Some summits are still being investigated – so some entries may be revisited in the following months, with possibly a few corrections to be done.

* Previous story :

StatCrunch: 8000er mountaineers with 6 summits or more, updated – October/2009.

* see : – Wanda Rutkiewicz – skarb narodowy. /Version polish and english/

* Read these stories – and more! – at

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