Honouring High Places: The Mountain Life of Junko Tabei

Honouring High Places: The Mountain Life of Junko Tabei

by Helen Y. Rolfe & Junko Tabei
  • biography
  • feminism
  • sports
  • travel

Honouring High Places is a compelling collection of highlights from Junko Tabei’s stirring life that she considered important, inspiring and interesting to mountaineering culture. Until now, her works have been available only in Japanese, and RMB is honoured to be sharing these profound and moving stories with the English-speaking world for the first time.

The collection opens on Mount Everest, where the first all-women’s expedition is met with disaster but pushes on against all odds. The story then shifts to the early years of Tabei’s life and reflects on her countryside childhood as a frail girl with no talent for sport, and cultural expectations that ignored her passion for mountains. With reminiscences of the early days of female climbers on Everest, the deaths of fellow mountaineers, Tabei’s pursuit of Mount Tomur, a cancer diagnosis, and efforts to restore a love for nature in the surviving youth of the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011, this beautifully curated collection of essays captures the essence of a notable time and the strength of character of one of the 20th and 21st centuries’ female mountaineering pioneers.


Helen Y. Rolfe, author

Helen Y. Rolfe is a professional writer and editor, and the author of Women Explorers: One Hundred Years of Courage and Audacity. She lives in Canmore, Alberta.

Junko Tabei, author

Junko Tabei (1939–2016) was born in Miharu, a small town in Fukushima prefecture, north of Tokyo. An amazing mountaineer and lover of peaks, she founded the Ladies Climbing Club in 1969 and reached the summit of Everest on May 16, 1975, as leader of an all-women Japanese team. After Everest, Tabei devoted her adult life to climbing the world’s highest peaks, including the Seven Summits. Deeply concerned about the degradation of Mount Everest, Junko established the Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan in 1990, the Japanese version of Sir Edmund Hilary’s Himalayan Trust. She was also a published author of numerous mountaineering books. Junko Tabei passed away on October 20, 2016, and is survived by her beloved husband, Masanobu Tabei, daughter Noriko and son Shinya, as well as other relatives and countless friends.

Yumiko Hiraki, translator

Yumiko Hiraki was born in Osaka, Japan, and moved to Canada in 1988. She worked as a mountain guide and had the great luck to meet Junko on various hiking and ski trips in the Canadian Rockies. She lives in Banff, Alberta.


  • ...the book excels when it comes to showing the emotional toll exacted by high-altitude expeditions. Amidst the details of camp life emerges a deeply personal look at the complex and sometimes volatile relationships between expedition members. - Sean McIntyre, Metropolis Japan Link to review
  • What shined through "Honouring High Places" is Tabei’s spirit, which was extremely aware of herself and everything and everyone around her. And she wanted everyone to share in what she saw in the world, though she seemed to encourage it by urging her readers to go outside and explore new challenges for themselves. - Andrew Szalay, The Suburban Mountaineer Link to review
  • The book provides a comprehensive reference to Tabei’s climbing career, as well as numerous reflections and insights, and entertaining stories with enjoyable glimpses of Tabei’s world through her unique lens. Most endearing, however, is Tabei’s recurring acknowledgment and appreciation of those around her, including her husband whose unwavering support was remarkable for that time, as well as other women climbers. - Shannon O'Donoghue Child, American Alpine Club Link to review
  • This book is remarkable for several reasons: among them, this is the first time the English-speaking world has seen a full-length book from the first woman to summit Chomolungma (Everest). Before Chomolungma, she was the first woman and first Japanese climber to ascend Annapurna III. And in 1992, Tabei became the first woman to climb all Seven Summits, the highest peaks of every continent. - Katherine Indermaur, Alpinist Link to review
  • Rather than being full of bravado, Tabei’s book is a humble, factual, beautiful, searing record of what it takes to summit the planet’s highest, most difficult peaks. It begins with an avalanche and the terror, disorientation, and pain of being crushed by the weight of snow, ice, and the tangle of fellow climbers buried alive on top of her. It ends with another kind of avalanche, when cancer finally conquered her indomitable will, though she managed to climb mountains in more than twenty countries even after her diagnosis. - Kristine Morris, Foreword Reviews Link to review


  • Shortlisted, 2018 Boardman Tasker Award
  • Winner, 2018 Mountaineering History Award, Banff Mountain Book Competition

Rights Holder

Rights Holder: Rocky Mountain Books

email: don@rmbooks.com

website: http://www.rmbooks.com/

rights available: World, excl. North America

Additional Information

number of pages: 376

publication date: 10/17/2017

Original language of pub: English

Materials Available: finished book