If people knew one thing about Gigi Wu, it was that she loved to hike.
The 36-year-old toured Taiwan’s tallest peaks and most scenic mountain ranges; she told FTV News last year that she’d hiked more than 100 peaks in four years.
But Wu is perhaps most well-known for the photos she’d post to social media, which showed her summiting mountains wearing only two-piece bathing suits — a tradition that garnered a following and the nickname “Bikini Hiker.” She first did so after losing a bet several years ago, she told FTV News, but continued after realizing the posts would draw more attention to the practice of hiking.
Wu’s latest endeavor, however, ended in tragedy. She was in the middle of a solo hiking trip in Yushan National Park when she fell more than 65 feet into a ravine on Saturday, Apple Daily News reported.
Even after she fell, Wu was able to use a satellite phone to call friends and give her coordinates, Nantou County fire official Lin Cheng-yi told reporters. However, the situation was dire: Wu reportedly also told her friends that she couldn’t move the lower half of her body.
Because of poor weather, rescuers had to try to reach Wu on foot. It wouldn’t be until noon Monday — about 43 hours after Wu’s distress call — that rescuers discovered her body, Lin said. By then, it was too late. A cause of death was not immediately confirmed.
Photos obtained by TVBS News showed an array of hiking gear scattered across a forest floor, reportedly near where Wu had fallen. Rescuers told the news station that Wu had been found fully clothed, covered in an aluminum blanket and with a flashlight in one hand.
Lin said rescuers were working on moving Wu’s body to a place where a helicopter could land and retrieve it.
Wu relished hiking alone — something she thought everyone should be able to do — and frequently emphasized safety and responsible hiking practices in posts to her Facebook page dedicated to hiking, which had more than 20,000 followers. In interviews, she said she hiked with proper gear and clothing, only changing into a bikini when reaching the top of a peak.
In a May 2017 post, she wrote that she had no option but to turn back during one portion of a hike and that it was important to be extra cautious when hiking solo.
“Even a slight wrong can be your last,” she wrote then.
Wu’s final Facebook post, dated Jan. 18, showed simply a tent and a glorious layer of clouds beneath what she said was the highest peak of Taiwan’s Central Mountain Range.
In the caption, she confessed she didn’t love posting “dramatic” views — but that this certainly counted as a dramatic view.
By Tuesday, Wu’s personal Facebook profile had been changed to a memorialized account and renamed “Remembering Gigi Wu.”
“R.I.P. a courageous girl full of self-esteem unfortunately left us too soon,” one Facebook user wrote. “thanks for all the moments you shared with us.”
In the interview with FTV News last summer, Wu was asked why she enjoyed climbing mountains so much.