Tabei’s LCC contained a team known as the Japanese Women’s Everest Expedition (JWEE), headed by Eiko Hisano, that would attempt to summit Mount Everest. JWEE contained 15 members, mostly working women, including teachers, a computer programmer and a juvenile counselor.
She was able to obtain last-minute funding from the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper and Nippon Television, however all the group members still had to pay an amount that was almost equal to Japan’s average salary.
To save money, they would use recycled car seats to sew up waterproof pouches and over-gloves. They also purchased goose feather from China and made their own sleeping bags. Students at school collected unused packets of jam for their teachers.
After a long training period, the team began the expedition early in 1975 when they traveled to Kathmandu. They used the same route to ascend the mountain that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay had taken in 1953.
In early May, the group was camping at 6,300 meters when an avalanche struck their camp. The women and their guides were buried under the snow. Tabei lost consciousness for approximately six minutes until her sherpa guide dug her out. Twelve days after the avalanche, on 16 May 1975, with her sherpa guide, Ang Tsering, Tabei became the first woman to reach the summit of Everest.