Climbing Mount Fuji

11 Sep, 2010

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So we finally did it: We climbed mount Fuji on August 28! We have been wanting to climb Fuji for such a long time and we’ve finally made it and here’s how it went…

Before the climb we had to prepare ourselves, e.g. buy some climbing equipment. Extra warm clothes, a good backpack, hydration bags and gloves are some of the things we needed. Also since the climb is not just a walk in the park we knew we couldn’t climb Fuji with our All Stars sneakers… unfortunately, so we had to buy some new hiking shoes. I never thought this day would come but we actually bought them!

Here we are, looking at our new shoes in the subway on our way to Shinjuku where we would meet up with the rest of the gang to take the bus to Fuji 5th station.

After about 4 hours in the bus we could finally see the big mountain we were about to climb from the bus. This was actually the first time I saw the mountain in real life! The beginning of the bus ride was pretty horrible since we got stuck in a traffic jam but after a while we were driving around in the countryside of Japan which is so nice. The nature here is so beautiful!

Here’s our bus on the left and on the right we had finally arrived at the 5th station. Mount Fuji’s trails are named into 10 stations, depending on the elevation. The 10th station is the summit. You can go to the 5th stations by car or bus, so most people start climbing Mt. Fuji from the fifth station.  It’s advised to stay in the 5th stations for at least 30 minutes before starting your climbing, to allow your body to adjust to the altitude. It was about 2.30 pm when we arrived. So we rested for a while until 4 pm.

There were some shops and a small temple at the 5th station. At the shops they were selling mountain gear and souvenirs. Apparently there were people there who came with the bus, just to visit the 5th station. They weren’t going to climb the mountain. It was pretty crowded at the 5th station, mostly they were hikers (wearing the climbing gear). It was so strange to see because some of those girls, who just visit the 5th station, were wearing high heels! I don’t see the point in just visiting the 5th station, it’s not that great…

Here we are with all our gear. I was already wearing 3 layers of clothing here, I had another thick vest and a rain/wind jacket in my backpack. I also brought some high calorie food and 2,5 liters of sports drink (Remi had 4 liters).

Mount Fuji! I took a picture of a picture…. hihi :P. It was a cool pic because here you can actually see one of the trails to the summit, it’s on the left side of the picture just above the clouds. That’s one looooong way to go…

It was 4pm, so we started to climb! The plan was to start at 4 and take it easy so we would be in time to see the sunrise at 4am (that’s 12 hours in total!). Normally it would take about 5/6 hours to climb to the summit.

There were also climbers passing us by who had just climbed the mountain. They were all looking so extremely exhausted! But we didn’t really think about it too much and continued walking :).

This is still the beginning part of the climb, here were still some trees. You couldn’t spot any trees, the higher you get.

This was also a crazy sight, a bike? Have no idea how it got there since the climbing route is so rocky/sandy… On the right we reached the 6th station, standing amongst the clouds we could hardly see a thing.

Nice thing about having so much time was that we could take as many breaks as we wanted, also to take some pictures :).

On the right you can see just how hard it is to climb Fuji. There weren’t just the “easy” roads like on the left picture, but there were also a lot of the rocky and steep parts (on the right). Especially during the night when it was dark, it was pretty hard to climb. Good thing someone told us we had to bring head lights!

This was such an amazing view. I can’t remember what station this was (probably 7th or 8th), but it was getting dark and the moon just came out. It was glowing red/orange. Never saw the moon like that. Together with the mountains, clouds, glowing cities and the lake in the middle it was so nice…

Taking another rest. The higher we got, the colder it became! So here I was already wearing all the clothes I took with me. This was still the 8th station. Each station until 8th station had resting points and mountain huts for people to take a rest inside the warm houses. We didn’t reserve those spots, because we thought we wouldn’t need them. But from outside in the cold it seemed so nice, warm and cozy…

From the 8th station there weren’t any resting points, it sounded so bad. From 8th to the summit it would take about 2 hours!

This guy was totally crazy! It was so cold up the mountain and he wasn’t wearing anything (except for pants and shoes)!!!

This is me enjoying a nice and warm 600円 cup noodles. I can tell you it never tasted this good in my life!

I had trouble climbing the mountain unfortunately. During the climb I had trouble breathing. I was so short on my breath. Like during exercising you breathe a lot faster because you need more oxygen, but I couldn’t fully inhale (probably because of the low oxygen level on the mountain). It felt so bad and it sucked! Because my body was doing ok, the climbing I could handle but breathing was just so hard. Luckily they were selling oxygen cans at the stations, so Remi bought about 3 for me. It really helped the breathing, but I had to stop more to take in the oxygen. After a while (maybe 2 hours) I think I got used to the low oxygen, after that I didn’t use the cans anymore!

よかった! We reached the summit! But the last part of the climb (from 9th to 10) was the hardest. It was during this climb that Remi became sick too (altitude sickness). When we eventually reach the top all he could do was sit and try to rest, he was looking so bad. It was about 3.30 am when we were at the summit. It was so damn crowded up there, couldn’t believe all those people also climbed Fuji! And they were all looking so energetic, and we were feeling like crap!

We rested for a bit inside a hut where we could order some food or warm drinks. It was really so cold at the top, I was shivering all over my body. Around 4 we went outside again to see the sunrise. Remi was still feeling so bad, he actually missed the sunrise :(. But luckily aside from the coldness and being tired I was feeling ok enough to witness the sunrise and take some pictures. It was breathtaking. To literally be above the clouds looking down on the landscape from such a height was amazing.

Quickly after the sunrise we began the climb down. We just wanted to go home as soon as possible. I was feeling like shit already and we had another 4/5 hours of descending ahead of us. The view was incredible, the clouds in between the mountains and the beautiful sky was so nice.

Descending was pretty shit. The road is wide but the dirt is soft. It was a struggle not to slide and do a face-plant! Also descending is killing for your knees, I was ok but for Remi it was very painful. But he went down faster than I did and after a while our group splitted up.

You could see the whole trail down, and it felt like it would never end…seriously. It also became hotter and hotter. At this point I didn’t take any more pictures because I just didn’t have the energy for it.

We passed by several stations and each time I felt like I was almost back at the 5th station, but then you see the road ahead and it’s so damn far. It took forever to reach the 5th station again. But finally around 11 am we were there!! Only to find out the bus tickets back to Shinjuku were sold out. So we had to take the bus to the JR station Kawaguchiko, and take the train back to Tokyo.

It was about 5pm when we were finally back home. My whole body was hurting and I was so dirty from the volcanic ash. It felt so good to be home again, especially after being awake for 35 hours straight.

Climbing Fuji really became an adventure and it will be something I will never forget. It was most definitely a very good experience and probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It was totally worth all the trouble in the end but I don’t think I will ever do it again.

Climbing Mount Fuji: check! :)

Also check out the video Remi made of climbing Fuji.

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4 Comments to “Climbing Mount Fuji”

  1. 12 September, 2010

    Good for you and Proud of you :)

  2. Karming
    13 September, 2010

    RESPECT GUYS!!!

  3. Nadia
    14 September, 2010

    Oh my! Respect!

  4. 27 September, 2010

    Good job! It is a good memory climbing up the mountain for me, too.
    But once is good enough :).

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