If there was any doubt that hiking was Gigi Wu’s passion, a visit to her social media accounts would have put that to rest.
But Wu garnered a following – and the nickname “Bikini Hiker” – for posting celebratory photos of herself atop Taiwanese mountains wearing only two-piece bathing suits. She first did so after losing a bet several years ago, she told FTV News last year, but continued after realizing the posts would draw more attention to the practice of hiking.
“I’ve hiked more than 100 peaks [in four years],” Wu told FTV News then. “And I probably have 97 bikinis, so I’ve accidentally repeated some a few times.”
Wu’s latest endeavor, however, ended in tragedy. The 36-year-old woman 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 conditions, 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 wrapped around 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 in 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.
“Celebrating today,” she wrote.
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.
“Look at how beautiful it is,” she said, gesturing at the magnificent view behind her while standing on a peak. “Why wouldn’t you love this?”