Junko Tabei, the first woman to climb Mount Everest, has died

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The first woman to climb Mount Everest has died.

Junko Tabei passed away from cancer Thursday in a hospital near Tokyo. The mountaineer was 77 years old.

Tabei was a nearly lifelong climber — according to Japanese news outlet NHK, she began climbing after graduating from university.

Before she took on the world's highest mountain, Tabei founded the Ladies Climbing Club in 1969. Then in 1975, she and a group of women set their sights on Mount Everest.

RELATED: The beauty that is Mount Everest:

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Nepalese porters walk up a path high above the north-eastern town of Namche Bazar, as they head to pick up goods from a town at an upper elevation, on April 18, 2015. Local porters like these two men make roughly anywhere from 40-60 USD a month for their back-breaking work, often at altitudes above 3,000 mts. AFP PHOTO/Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
General view of Base Camp on Mount Everest which is 5364 meters (17,598 ft) above sea level, Nepal
FILE - In this Oct. 27, 2011 file photo, the last light of the day sets on Mount Everest as it rises behind Mount Nuptse as seen from Tengboche, in the Himalaya's Khumbu region, Nepal. An avalanche swept the slopes of Mount Everest on Friday, April 18, 2014, along a route used to ascend the world's highest peak, killing at least six Nepalese guides and leaving nine more missing, officials said. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer, File)
In this image provided by mountain guide Adrian Ballinger of Alpenglow Expeditions and taken at sunrise on Saturday, May 18, 2013, climbers make their way to the summit of Mount Everest, in the Khumbu region of the Nepal Himalayas. Nepal celebrated the 60th anniversary of the conquest of Mount Everest on Wednesday, May 29, 2013, by honoring climbers who followed in the footsteps of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. (AP Photo/Alpenglow Expeditions, Adrian Ballinger) MANDATORY CREDIT, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
MOUNT EVEREST, NEPAL, AVALANCHE - APRIL 23, 2014: This is DigitalGlobe imagery (image 4) of the avalanche on Mount Everest near Everest Base Camp that killed sixteen Nepalese guides. The avalanche occurred on 18 April 2014. Imagery was collected on April 23th, 2014. (Photo DigitalGlobe via Getty Images)
DELHI, INDIA - DECEMBER 01: The Mount Everest (8848m) in between other himalayan mountains seen from an aeroplane on December 01, 2012 in Delhi, Delhi, India (Photo by EyesWideOpen/Getty Images)
Clouds hover above the world's highest peak Mount Everest, as seen from Syangboche, about 125 kilometers (80 miles) northeast of Katmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, May 19, 2010. This 29,035-foot (8,850-meter) peak is one of the major attractions of this Himalayan nation. (AP Photo/ Binod Joshi)
** FILE ** Mount Everest is seen from above Everest Base camp, Nepal, in this May 26, 2003 file photo. Climbers are being told by Nepalese officials that Mount Everest's summit will be put off-limits to the public from all sides during the first 10 days of May, so the Chinese can carry an Olympic torch to the summit without risking a high-altitude confrontation over Tibet's future. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan, File)
**FILE** The southern face of Mount Everest is seen here in this Aug. 26, 2000, file photo. Sir Edmund Hillary, who along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first to summit the world's tallest peak in 1953, harshly criticized the dozens of climbers who saw ailing fellow climber David Sharp of Britain earlier this month but continued their attempts to summit the mountain. Sharp died of apparent oxygen deficiency. (AP Photo/John McConnico, File)
Basanti (L), 14, and her friend Jhalijhsa, 14, walk with their empty baskets down to the north-eastern Nepalese town of Namche Bazar (unseen) on a freshly snow-dusted field near Mt. Kondge (R) on April 18, 2015. Basanti and Jhalijsha were heading to the market in Namche to pick up supplies to take back to their village where they go to school on weekdays, after making their early-morning supply run. For their daily, back-breaking effort, they earn an equivalent of around 70 USD. The town of Namche is a usual stop for trekkers and climbers heading into the Khumbu region. AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
A bank of clouds moves up the valley of the Dudh Koshi river basin into upper elevation at the base of the Nepalese Mount Thambersku (top L) near Namche Bazar in the early morning of April 18, 2015. Trekkers and climbers heading towards the peaks and glaciers deep in the Khumbu region, including Mount Everest, follow this valley as they head north. AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
MOUNT EVEREST, NEPAL, FEBRUARY 13, 2015: A line of trekkers walk through fresh snow beside the Khumbu Glacier, near the base of Mount Everest and Everest Base Camp in the Solu-Khumbu region of Nepal, February 13, 2015. Trekking is the largest sole source of income for many people living in the Solu-Khumbu region, home to the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest (8848m). According to leading researchers, in recent years the landscape and people of the Solu-Khumbu region have come under increasing pressure from raising temperatures and shifting climactic conditions. As well as being home to many of the world's highest mountains, the region holds some of the world's largest and highest glaciers, some of which have begun to show signs of increased and rapid melt. The Khumbu glacier, which lies at the foot of Mount Everest, has in the last decade begun to develop ponds of water on its surface, which scientists say could develop into a much larger lake on the glacierâs surface if warming trends continue. Recent research indicates that annual mean surface temperature in the Himalaya has increased by 1.5 degrees celsius over pre-industrial temperatures. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images).
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Everest is the world's tallest mountain, reaching a height of a little more than 29,000 feet.

But Tabei didn't stop there. By 1992, she'd conquered the Seven Summits.

The Seven Summits are the highest peaks on each continent — one the most notable being Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa — and Tabei conquered them all.

But Tabei was known for more than her mountaineering. She defied stereotypes and became an image for independence.

When Tabei climbed Everest, it was a widely held belief that a woman's place was in the home. She told The Japan Times in 2012 she had no doubt about climbing that mountain "no matter what other people said."

Tabei climbed peaks in more than 70 countries throughout her life. Her last climb was Mount Fuji with a group of high school students in 2011.

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