Mount Fuji is Japans highest mountain. And since I’ve never been there yet, I thought I might try hiking it. Well, the main climbing season is through July to August, when the weather is mostly good. In this time though, there are a lot of people and the whole mountain seems to be crowded. September seems to be a good month, since the weather is still okay, and there are less people on the mountain. So – looking at the weather forecast, I decided to go there three days ago.
Right, there are 4 different routes. I took the easiest (not the shortest, but the one with most people and huts on the way) and decided to climb during the night, so I’d arrive at the top in the morning. I took a bus from Shinjuku to the 5th station (halfway up the mountain, there are about 9 stations to the top). The bus was empty except one Japanese guy and two girls from America and Australia. I talked with the girls and we decided to climb the mountain together. We got to the 5th station around 10 p.m., and started walking with our headlights on.
First, it was really easy, but it got quite steep sooner than expected. And then it got foggy. And cold. Really cold. All guides said that climbing this route took an average of 6 hours and thats exactly what it took for us to get up there. Physically, it was okay, but since we didn’t sleep over in a mountain hut, so without adjusting to the thin air, I did notice the lack of oxygen and the last part was really tough on me. In addition, I did underestimate how cold it gets with all the wind, fog and rain. I was freezing when we arrived at the top, lining up to get into a warm hut where we just had time to get something warm to eat. The sun was coming up, and we took some pictures, but since we where all freezing like hell, we were just eager to get back into that warm hut. As the sun came up, it was all foggy and rainy again, so the view was… well, non-existing. But I coincidently met a friend from Hamburg up there who decided to climb Mount Fuji on the same day.
Well, wet, freezing, surrounded by whiteness, we decided to climb down. The route down was different from the one we came up, and it took about 3-4 hours to get back down. Yeah. At this point, I just wanted to crawl into bed. Well, arriving at the 5th station, we got some breakfast and jumped into the first bus back.
This was a bit fun, I can proudly say that I’ve been on Mount Fuji now and it was awesome to be standing above the clouds, which I’ve never done before. Sad part is, I didn’t see the mountain at all (I came in the dark and next day was just foggy) and the weather up there wasn’t that nice (nothing to see, plus I was freezing so bad I wasn’t really in the mood to try to get any pictures at all). There is a walk around the crater up there, which I also didn’t do because of the weather.
Well, maybe I’ll try it again. Definitely not that soon, but maybe somewhere in the future.
The Yoshida Trail is the one we took. It was sometimes a bit difficult to find the right way in the dark.
A mountain hut around the 7th station.
The menu. Some warm foods and drinks. Getting higher, the prices went up too.
Around the 8th station, where we arrived around 2-3 a.m., all the people who climbed halfway up in the day and stayed in the huts were starting their last part of the climb.
It got crowded suddenly and we were only able to walk very slow. Which was good for me though, because I was feeling the lack of oxygen.
A few minutes before sunrise, when the sky was still clear.
This was awesome, standing here with the clouds beneath you. Still, I just took some quick pictures and ran back into the hut, since I was freezing really bad.
The ‘restaurant’ up there.
Aaaaand sunrise! Yes, everything went white and it stayed that way.
The path downwards was just a zig-zag course, which was quite fast, but also no fun at all.
After hours of descending, vegetation again!