On Top of the World: Five Women Explorers in Tibet
In the late 1800s, when women were bound by cumbersome clothing and strict Victorian scruples, a small band of astonishing women explorers burst forth to claim the adventurous life. Plowing their way up the Himalaya and Karakoram or trekking for months through tropical lowlands, these five women (three British, one American, and one French) conducted an unprecedented exploration of Tibet: Nina Mazuchelli, the first Western woman to see Everest, organized a small expedition from Darjeeling to explore the Eastern Himalaya. Isabella Bird Bishop, bedridden while at home, was always robust on her far-flung, international adventures and wrote nine books chronicling her travels, which brought her to Hawaii, the Rocky Mountains, and across Asia and into Tibet. Alexandra David-Neel at 56 trekked for eight months and more than 2,000 miles from China to Lhasa disguised as a Tibetan beggar. Fanny Bullock Workman, an avowed suffragist, climbed to 21,000 feet in the Karakorum in 1899 and posed with a newspaper whose banner proclaimed, 'Votes for Women.' Annie Taylor was a Christian missionary who traveled in Tibetan garb to bring the word of God to the forbidden land of Tibet.