Climbing Mt. Fuji

Welp, here what climbing Mt. Fuji was like.  I swear the dubstep is included in the experience:

 

My friends and I all gathered at Gotemba Station and took an hour long bus ride to the Subashiri 5th Station which is 2,000 m up.  That was our starting point.

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This was the beginning of the path.  It goes through a lovely forested area.

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Eventually, as the path ascends, the trail changes a bit.

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Finally, the trees thin and the fog thickens. Rocky protrusions jut from the ground in increasing number with fewer and fewer plants to cover them.

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Eventually, the trees disappear and you have quite a view.

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During the sunset, the shadow of Mt. Fuji stretched out across the earth, defined at the edges and massive in its size.

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We stopped at the sixth station around 8pm to bed down for the night.

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Care to have a seat?  When I got up around 2am to use the toilet, all of these seats were full with climbers sleeping or taking a rest. Most had mastered the art of sleeping with your neck tilted forward at a painful angle.

We rose at 3m the next morning. Among our trio, only I could get any sleep because I brought ear plugs.  The others were kept awake by the group in the nearby loft who had a foreigner that kept saying “I can’t sleep!”.

Thanks dude, for making sure everyone else can’t sleep either!

By 4 am a pink hue like rose wine shaded the horizon. The ground lightened until we could put away our head lamps.

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We stopped and waited at the turn of a switchback. It is awe-inspiring to say the least and I finally have a collection of dawn photos.  If I ever manage to have a miracle baby, I’ll draw from this collection to expression my joy.

In fact, I’d rather just use photos to express my feelings because how can “yes” or “no” or a simple “I did it” ever capture the feelings of these photos:

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For some reason, people in Japan (and a lot of Asian countries) will stack rocks. I’ve heard many reasons for this, but it certainly made for a great photo.

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At first I thought there was a fire until I realized it was the sunlight on the lake. The waters glitter like fire beneath the sea of clouds.

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Epic.  It would have been better if the man had held his staff aloft like something out of Ben Hur.  Oh well, some strangers just don’t know how to pose.

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Still a lot more ground to cover. That speck of a house is the seventh station. The moss and tiny plants are the last of the growth that dares to survive on the harsh surface of Mt. Fuji.

The soil begins to take on a bright rude hue, like something from Olympus Mon on Mars.

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It really did start to feel like an alien world.

There were so many young children, each decked out in the most top-of-the-line climbing gear. They were adorable.

One older child, maybe twelve by the looks of it, was sitting on the ground just above the ninth station. His grandfather patted him and tried to comfort him.  The poor boy had a glazed, distant look in his eyes, and his face looked sheet-white. Finally, he vomited two feet from me as I passed, a clear sign of severe altitude sickness.

It’s a pity.

It happened right around this point.

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That is the destroyed ninth station, and the final place before the summit.  The kid was literally at the cusp of reaching the top, but he would need to either take a very long break and suck on some of the oxygen cans, or turn back.

Turning back would be the safest since he clearly had altitude sickness terrible enough to throw up.  However, maybe the others would be tempted to push since he was so very close.

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My friend brought her shrine book and this the shrine stamp you get if you reach the top of Mt. Fuji.  She also go her walking stick stamped (burned in by a hot needle) that marked the completion of her journey.

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Google Maps shows we’re at the top.

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We did it.  Here is my feeling at this moment:

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A visit to the crater of Fuji-san was a bitter cold. Those icy winds whip you and suck the heat from your body. They penetrated through all the layers of my thick ski coat as if I wore nothing at all.

That’s a pretty crazy wind-chill.

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This is the crater of Mt. Fuji. The mountain really is as cold-hearted as the legends say.

The hike down was slipping and sliding down the rocky slope. You go down a different trail at a fast pace, sometimes you have to run as the gravel gives out beneath your shoes.

People fall onto their rears all the time.  Where the Yoshida Trail and Subashiri once more split, things got bad. If I have one thing to recommend about Mt. Fuji it’s this:

DON’T CLIMB THE DOWN TRAIL OF THE SUBASHIRI.

The up trail is amazing and beautiful and full of forests.  The down trail is a hell of sand and rocks that never seems to end.  Stick to the Yoshida going down or round the crater and take another trail down.

And that was my experience climbing Mt. Fuji for a second, very foolish time.
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7 thoughts on “Climbing Mt. Fuji

  1. This brought back so many memories! The barren, rocky landscape is really something else. My husband and I did this hike five years ago on the Gotemba Trail. I heard the military explosions too, and I thought it was the volcano deciding to erupt right then and there. The hike was challenging at times, but so definitely worth it. It was an absolutely amazing experience. The rock stacking is not only an Asian thing. You know what they say about climbing Mt. Fuji twice, don’t you?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Difficult yes. Bleakest? I hadn’t heard that. I found a special beauty in it’s barren bleakness. The Gotemba was the closest and easiest for us to get to, so that’s why we did it. It was good fun.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great story broken up into the segments or key milestones of the hike both up and down. For someone who hasn’t done it – and doesn’t know anyone who has – I liked your descriptions, something ethereal about it all.

    Liked by 1 person

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