Mount Fuji – Climbing Reflections

So last weekend I climbed Mt. Fuji with my dad. I kind of did it on whim really. I figured I came all the way to Japan, could see Mt. Fuji from work, so it would

We started from the Kawaguchi 5th Station and planned on climbing the Yoshida trail during the night so we could watch the sunrise from Mt Fuji. After taking a two and a half hour bus ride from Shinjuku to the 5th Station we geared up. After buying walking sticks and suiting up we started climbing. It was pitch black so we equipped the lights that we had brought.

A small note on the lights. I brought a headlight that used a regular light bulb and by dad brought a LED one. The LED one was the better choice as mine just seemed to to be too dim

From the 5th to the 6th station we seemed to go up a zigzag type pattern for quite some time. It seemed to go pretty fast but as I later found out on the climb down it was actually a pretty big distance. The terrain wasn’t terrible here and the rate of ascent was moderate. Every now and then we stopped to take a sip of water but it really wasn’t terrible. The sixth station seemed to be way up there though. We kept climbing and climbing but the light of the sixth station for some reason didn’t seem to be getting closer. Finally we reached it.

We got our walking stick stamped at the station and rested up a little bit. We were so oblivious with what was to come. From the 6th station to the 7th station it was terrible. The terrain was absolutely horrific. Mt. Fuji is a volcano so there are a lot of volcanic rocks. I am really skeptical to call this section hiking… it was more mountain climbing. The ascent was really sudden and very treacherous. The walking stick that I bought really got in the way here. I needed to use my hand to grab rocks to hoist myself up. It was really like boulder hopping. Still somehow after a couple hours (which seemed like an eternity) we managed to get to the 7th station. After the 7th station was more boulder hopping.

At this point the altitude change really started to get to my father and me. We could only walk very short distances without stopping for air. At one of the 7th stations we got some oxygen which didn’t really seem to help me too much. Anyways we eventually reached the first 8th station. It seemed like it took forever though. It was more boulder hopping off sharp, steep, and treacherous volcanic rock.

A few days before we started climbing I made a reservation at one of the 8th stations on a whim. I figured that we got to the 8th station too late, but after asking the clerk it turns out that we were able to stay. Thank god for this. We were so tired, exhausted, and fatigued. After resting a few hours at the station we had enough energy to chug up to the top. We didn’t reach the summit in the time for the sunrise but it actually worked in our favor. From the 8th station we could see the sunrise while from the summit there were clouds obscuring the view. I took some really nice pictures.

From the 8th station to the summit was mixed terrain. Some of it was boulder hopping (more towards the summit), but a lot of it was walking on narrow paths of volcanic gravel. This proved very hard as sometimes the gravel would slip up under your feet leaving you on your ass. It was hard to take care of all the factors at the same time.

Finally after what seemed like hours and hours we made it to the top at roughly 8am. It was a cold desolate place. The wind was blowing really hard and it was very very cold. We wanted to stay there as little as possible. After taking a few pictures we started our descent.

The descent took just about as long as the ascent. There was snow on the “special” descent course so we were forced to go back the way we came. I don’t see how some people did it, they were just Mario hopping down the mountain. I was mortified that I would slip and break a leg or sprain an ankle… I couldn’t imagine what I would have done if I did do that though. It seemed like it took FOREVER to go down. More so than it took going up. It was very hard. I guess going up we were excited (for the majority) about getting to the top, but hiking down was so miserable.

After falling on my ass a couple of times and cautiously going down the mountain we made it to the bottom of the mountain. We were dead. We hadn’t showered or had a decent night sleep in over a day. Zombie would be the right word to describe me. After catching a bus to Kawaguchiko train station, taking about four transfers, we ended up in Hon-Atsugi. Taking a Taxi back to my apartment we both passed out after taking a nice relaxing shower.

The muscleache could be felt for days afterwards. Everything… legs, arms, butt (from the falling). Looking back at it, it was definitely the ultimate workout. I can say now (some 3 weeks after the fact) that I am glad I did it once… but there is no way in hell I would go again. It was an experience and it feels good now to say that I did it. I would reccomend anyone who lives in Japan to go. However, here are a few words of advice.

This is what I brought to Fuji:

  • LED Hand Light
  • Light bulb Head Light
  • 2.25 liters of water
  • Sweater
  • Snow Cap
  • Scarf
  • Onigiri/Snacks
  • Tennis Shoes
  • Camera

Looking back, it was very chilly and I could have done better with a bit warmer clothes. I am very resistant to the cold so it worked out fine, but a pair of gloves or a warmer sweater would have worked.

If I had to do it again (which I don’t see in the near future), I would do it as follows (in order)

  • Make a reservation at a mountain hut on the 8th station
  • Start climbing early afternoon
  • Reach the hotel in the evening (7/8ish)
  • Spend the night at the hotel (start climbing again at 2/3ish)
  • Reach the summit to watch the sunrise
  • Descend the mountain not tired

Like I said I don’t really foresee myself doing this again. The terrain was really rough and to be honest I believe there are many other superior hiking trails in Japan. I am glad I did it once though and it was a really good experience. I suggest everyone does it at least once. It kind of has a “wow factor” to it. You can say you climbed Mt. Fuji and even Japanese people are surprised.

Google Pictures

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.