Climbing Mount Fuji

We had cancelled our trip to Mt. Fuji last time due to the typhoon. But I was lucky to have another chance to climb Fuji very soon. A non-profit organization, called the Society for the Next Generation, organized the program. The organization promotes international youth exchange. We were total 27 people from different countries. Many people were from my residence, Tokyo International Exchange Center, Odaiba.
We all gathered at Shinjuku on Sunday, Aug. 12, at 9 in the morning. We took the highway bus to the Gotemba station from where we went to a camp called the House for Youth Exchange. We had some orientation and checked our things needed for climbing. Some volunteers joined us from there. We had a great buffet lunch there. I was surprised even a vegeterian like me had so many things to eat!
We headed to Subashiri-guchi, the fifth station for climbing. There are many routes for climbing Fuji. We took the Subashiri route. That day we just climbed to the next station, about 2.5 hrs climb. It was cool and easy because there were green trees all around. There is a shrine of a female goddess on the way, where we can pray for a successful climb. We also met a band with japanese drums, coming down, playing the Fuji yama song 🙂 We arrived at the sixth station in the evening and stayed at the mountain lodge there. Its just a wooden hut, but surprisingly fits in so many people. We had dinner and slept there in sleeping bags.
Our plan was to start climbing again at night, from 2 AM, intending to reach the top early to see the sunrise. However, the weather suddenly turned bad with strong winds and light rain. So we had some more sleep and started out at about 3:30 AM. It was still dark, windy and raining gently. It was very cold there. We had to put on our sweaters, jackets and gloves, though it was peak summer in Tokyo! They had lent us search lights that we put on our head. With everyone having search lights the way was lit up very well. We had a professional guide with us. Mountain climbing is definitely not easy and we were given proper instructions. They provided us with small packs of oxygen – powder that we can swallow with water. The air gets thinner with altitude and we may have difficulty in breathing. However, I did not have any problem with that – may be because I am from Nepal 😉 Anyway I was curious to taste a pouch of oxygen – tasteless dust. I have kept the remaining packs as souvenirs.
Some friends already started feeling unwell and we had to leave them at the lodge! Anyway, we started climbing, at ridiculously slow pace. We were instructed not to overtake our prof. guide at any cost. We were further divided into groups, with volunteers in each, so that we never get lost. It is very easy to get lost in the dark and mixed up with so many other people climbing.
When we reached the 7th station it was already time to sunrise. The clouds were all below us by now. It felt like looking down from an aeroplane. The sun came up from the clouds after sometime. We climbed very slowly resting at many places to get adjusted with the thin air. But still many people felt unwell due to altitude or became tired and had to return back from different stations. It becomes steeper and more difficult the higher we go. The way is all rocky continuous slope. Mt. Fuji has a very clear continuous slope.
There were few pay toilets on the way, 100 or 200 yen. We had enough water with us and some energy foods and drinks. No garbage bins, so we have to carry back our garbage. Everyone does that and Fuji is perfectly clean.
Finally, after 6 hrs of climb, we were at the top of mount Fuji, the highest peak in Japan, at an altitude of 3776 m … yeah !!
Only 15 people out of total 27 made it to the top. The top part is the toughest, with huge rocks and big steps. The weather was perfectly fine by now. It was very sunny and not too cold. But it was very very windy. It was amazing to see the huge crater at the top. The rock around the crater looks somewhat like a crouching tiger, so it is also called the tiger rock. It takes about 1 hour to go around the crater. Unfortunately, no time for that 😦
It was soon time to go down. Descending was not so good experience. It was all small rocks and dust down the slope. We had to walk down sticking our foot into the tiny rocks, falling down at times and kicking clouds of dust all around. A layer of rocks easily gets into the shoes making it more painful. Anyway we had to carry down our weight straining our knees and legs. The descend only took about 4 hours.
At last, we were back to the camp in the evening, with the victorious pride 🙂
We did not look so beautiful though – all covered with dust, red eyes and sun burnt.
Climbing mount Fuji was one of the greatest experience in Japan. I guess the old Japanese saying is quite right – "If you never climb Mt Fuji you are a fool, and if you climb it more than once you are a fool again" 😉 

1 Comment »

  1. Unknown said

    T_T 走过来瞧瞧~~~~

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