Hulda Crooks never met a mountain she didn't like. Yesterday, she climbed the 350 stairs of the U.S. Capitol Dome during National Women in Sports Day, but it was nothing compared with scaling Mount Fuji in Japan, a feat she accomplished last year. Nor was it like climbing 14,494-foot Mount Whitney in California, which she has done 23 times in the last 25 years.

Those are real challenges, even for someone who isn't 91 years old.

"I hope they {young women} will at least be interested in taking care of their health," said Crooks, who began climbing in her late 40s. "Whether they go into competitive athletics, I don't know, but I hope they will at least take care of their health and look ahead -- look ahead to what kind of old age they want to come to. Because now is when you're shaping it."

Crooks' climb kicked off daylong ceremonies for a host of women athletes, in town to celebrate the history of women in sport and to help lobby for passage of the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988. The act would restore institutionwide coverage of anti-discrimination statutes for federally funded colleges and universities, which was narrowed by the Supreme Court in its 1984 Grove City ruling.

The 1988 restoration act was approved last week by the Senate in a 75-14 vote. Similar legislation is pending in two committees -- Education and Labor, and Judiciary -- in the House of Representatives.

The legislation is supported by the Women's Sports Foundation, an education and advocacy group for women athletes. WSF President Carol Mann, the former professional golfer who won 38 LPGA titles, said her group would be able to step in and push for equal funding of women's sports at colleges, whereas women coaches and sports administrators at the institutions might feel pressure to not act.

"A lot of the women that work . . . in NCAA schools," Mann said, "really cannot do the kinds of things that WSF can do, because their jobs are at stake. We are a neutral body. We have no jobs at these universities and schools. So when a women's {athletic director} calls us and says we have to start a war over the NCAA Presidents Commission suggestions {which called for cuts in women's scholarship funding of 10 percent, as opposed to 6 percent for men's scholarships, excluding football}, we can do that, with the help of our networking people."

The WSF, Mann said, helped to defeat the Presidents Commission's proposed budget cuts a year ago, and has worked to create athletic equity task forces in 20 states. The WSF has taken a cue from President Reagan's philosophy of decentralization, Mann said.

"Reagan for years has promoted nonfederal intervention at the state level," Mann said. "Now, that's okay. We can get that message. We can learn from that message, and we can operate from it."

The morning news conference featured such women athletes as tennis star Zina Garrison, hurdler Stephanie Hightower, basketball player Clarissa Davis (last year's women's college player of the year) and race car driver Lyn St. James. Crooks made her climb with Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) and 14-year-old archer Denise Parker.

Later, some athletes visited area high schools, and met with Education Secretary William Bennett and President Reagan in an afternoon ceremony at the White House.

Earlier, heptathlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee was presented with the second Flo Hyman award, presented in honor of the late volleyball star who died in 1986 of Marfan's Syndrome. The award was the idea of Sen. Robert Packwood (R-Ore.), who met Hyman when she went to Capitol Hill in 1984 to push for the Title IX provision of the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1984.

Joyner-Kersee, the world record holder in the heptathlon and co-holder of the world record in the women's long jump, met Hyman when Joyner-Kersee was in the 10th grade and went to Carbondale, Ill., to see the U.S. women's volleyball team play the Japanese national team.

"At that time, I was so in awe of her," Joyner-Kersee said. "The girl was amazing. She came over and signed autographs." Years later, both were in Los Angeles for the 1984 Olympics.

"She was a leader on the floor, a leader in the community," Joyner-Kersee said. "Always encouraging others and being courageous. Being out there playing, knowing she had chest pains prior to it, but wanting to contribute to the team, that, to me, when you say you're going to give it your all . . . that's why the award means so much to me."