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Climbing Mt. Fuji

Joe Conley on Saturday, 19 July 2008. Posted in Study Abroad

Last night at about 8:30 or 9PM we started to climb Mt. Fuji. It was considerably colder there, so we changed into jackets and shorts for probably the first time in Japan for a lot of us. We started from Mt. Fuji's 5th station, the highest up you can drive. From there it was still 5 hours of hiking up a mountain to reach the peak.

I went in a group with Xander, Jason from RIT, and Trevor from Hawaii, and everyone was way more in shape than me. I'm probably the last person who should be climbing mountains. We hit the 6th station, expected people to start catching up, but they didn't and we continued to the 7th. By the 7th, it was very clear that I was not able to keep up with these guys, but they kept pushing me on.

Between the two number 7 stations (new and old) and the 8th, I was totally ready to quit. The climb was so ridiculously hard, everyone had inadvertently picked the hardest trail, although we didn't find out til later. It might have been the only trail that went all the way to the peak though. Along the way we bought whatever food they had available at these stations to eat, but it was really just bread and crackers.

But even as we were at the 8th station, where there were places to rest for a few hours for a significant charge, I was ready to call it quits and sleep there. I was incredibly exhausted, but they made me go on. Again at the 9th and the 9th 1/2 stations, I wanted no more of this. But they pushed me on to the very peak. By then, I was more exhausted than I can ever remember being, especially with the thin air. I started to feel nauseous, and my head had felt stuffy and dizzy for most of the ascent.

At the very peak the temperature dropped significantly and the wind picked way up. There was a boy scout master up there and he told us where to find shelter. First, we huddled together under a rock, but when that failed to keep us warm enough, we packed all 4 of us into the door way to the shrine, and put a table we found up against the door to keep out the wind.

Four of us slept in that doorway

At this point, we were so cold we were worried about survival. We were the first group to the top at about 1:30 or 2AM, So we had to wait the longest in the cold weather for the sunrise we wanted to see. After awhile, we nodded off for a bit until some of the others arrived. Not everyone made if of course, it was a pretty ridiculous hike. But although I was feeling better, Trevor ended up throwing up because of the cold or the altitude.

Then we watched the sunrise

The Sunrise from the top


Me, Kesuke, and Anderson at the top

The Crater

It was pretty neat, probably not worth all the effort but still fun. When we went back to the shrine we slept at, apparently there was also a restaurant next to the shrine, and it had opened offering shelter and hot food. Would have been great 4 hours ago, thanks. It was the first day of climbing season, or of the busses running at least, so there were a lot of people there.

The Restaurant at the Peak


Trevor, who had been my main motivator to go up the mountain, ended up leaving shortly into the sunrise because he just wasn't feeling well. The hike down was awful. Nowhere near as bad as the hike up, but very awful. Mt. Fuji is a volcano, so it's all volcanic ash, and it's super slippery.

The trip down

Fuji's Shadow

Still some snow up here

It was weird being above the clouds

So the descent was basically 3 or 5 hrs of thinking you're about to fall down the mountain. It was also incredibly exhausting, and I couldn't believe at all how far we had come the night before. Maybe I was just so out of it from exhaustion I didn't remember as much of it. We took the bus back because It had just started running that morning, and it was a little cheaper.

Afterwards, we went back to Yokohama by train to find our hostel. It was a little hard to locate, but we also found a really nice shopping street. The hostel people are really nice and accommodating, and they even had a birthday party that night for July birthdays, including me and Xander mine's tomorrow).

Afterwards, I had to turn in early because I haven't slept or eaten well for about two days and climbed a friggin' mountain. But I'm alive.