China's First Woman on Top of the World Passes Away

April 2, 2014
Editor: Arnold Hou
China's First Woman on Top of the World Passes Away
Pan Duo, 75, the first woman in China to reach the summit of Qomolangma (Mount Everest), passed away due to complications related to diabetes in Wuxi, in east China's Jiangsu Province, on March 31. [Xinhua]

Pan Duo, 75, the first woman in China to reach the summit of Qomolangma (Mount Everest), passed away due to complications related to diabetes in Wuxi, in east China's Jiangsu Province, on March 31.

Mount Qomolangma, known in the West as Mount Everest, lies on the border between China and Nepal. Rising 8844.43 meters above sea level, it is not only the highest peak in the Himalayan Range, but also the highest peak in the world. People have referred to it variously as "the mountain of mountains," "the top of the world," and "the third pole of planet Earth."

Pan was born in 1939 in Gyamda County, in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. In 1959, Pan joined the China Female Mountaineering Expedition.

Pan's father died when she was 8 years old, and her mother raised the family alone. She said a poor and hard life had built her strong body and will.

In January 1959, Pan was chosen as a mountaineer to join the China Female Mountaineering Expedition due to her outstanding physical condition.

In January 1974, Pan was elected as Deputy Captain of the China Mountaineering Expedition.

In 1975, 36-year-old Pan planned to climb Qomolangma. She passed all her training evaluations with her extraordinary will, and was elected as the team's second-in-command.

Their expedition began on May 17, 1975. On May 27, 1975, Pan reached the top of Qomolangma with eight male members. Pan became known as the "tallest woman in the world." "Regardless of the results, my success proved that we females are as outstanding as males," she said.

Pan had been elected as a deputy to the National People's Congress five times since the mid-1970s. In 1981, she became vice director of the Wuxi Sports Administration.

To celebrate the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, Pan, who was almost 70 years old and was in poor health at the time, successfully climbed to the Everest Base Camp with 20 volunteers, at an altitude of 5,200 meters.

Wang Yongfeng, captain of the China Mountaineering Team, expressed his grief over Pan's death. "She is a miracle of mountain climbing, and is an example of learning for young mountaineers in China."

"She was kind and friendly to us and often told stories about mountaineering to us," said Wang. "All in her mind was how to help with the development of mountaineering in China."

"Pan contributed a lot to mountaineering and mutual communication between nations," said Nyima Tsering, principal of the Tibet Mountaineering School. "She was active in promoting mountaineering after retirement, and her behavior and spirit inspire us to make more efforts for China's mountaineering."

(Source: gb.cri.cn/Translated by Women of China)

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