Monday, September 3, 2012

Mount Fuji

I have lived in Japan for over four years now and have yet to climb Fuji, not sure why I guess I have just been lazy.  Two weekends ago I finally got around to making the hike, below is my backpack. 
I do think I packed to much, that thing weighed about 10kg.  The things I used during the hike was head lamp, extra shirts, water, power bars and other food, gloves, flash light, camera and jacket.  Things I did not use during the hike was extra pair of shoes, rain coat, towels and a few other things.
The idea is to make it to the summit around 4:30am in order to see the sunrise, one way to accomplish this is to leave from the 5th station at 10pm and hike non-stop till you get to the summit.  The 5th station is at 2300 meters (7545 ft) and the summit is at 3776m (12388 ft).
It quickly becomes cold, this thermometer is at 3100m (10170ft) and is all ready reading 8C (46F).  This photo was at 2:03am
There are many stations along the route, each station provides a place to rest.  But they also sell expensive food and water.  Many people also have walking sticks, at each station you can get a symbol of that station burned into the stick.... at a price.
It's amazing the number of people climbing the mountain.  Looking down you can see the location of the trail lit-up by all the people on it.
You can see Tokyo off in the distance, I think that is the north star above Tokyo but I'm not sure because I think I'm looking east.
At 4:25am, I looked over my shoulder and saw sun light breaking over the horizon but I was not quite to the summit.
At 4:43am, still hiking and not to the summit.  Hiking up the Yoshida-trail is a good way to make sure you see the sunrise though.
 Sun rises quick, at 4:54am the sun broke the horizon.
The trail is kind of single file and since the sun was rising everyone was looking backwards and taking photos.  Because of this, everyone on the trail came to a stand still, we decided to step aside and watch the sunrise.
Around 5:13am we decided to get back on the trail, here I am trying to stay awake, about to get back in line.
Looking down the mountain it's still amazing how many people are walking up the hill.
I reached the entrance to the summit, the tori above at 5:40am.  The total time hiking was about 7 hours and 40 minutes.
The summit was crazy, 1000's of people.
Another thing I did not know was there is a village on top of fuji, again you can buy almost anything up here.  If you climb Fuji but don't want to carry so much you can get water and food along the way.  It will cost a fortune but might be worth it.
Me sitting next to a famous shrine on top of Mt. Fuji.
The summit of Fuji is actually an active volcano.  People walk down to the base of the crater but I was to tired to do that.
Another great view looking out from Fuji.
If you watched the movie The Lorax, the bad guy sells fresh air in the absence of trees.  Fuji is kind of the same thing, I took two cans of fresh air and ended up using one.  I'm not totally sure I actually needed air but it was advise that we take some.  This is the second tallest mountain I made it to the summit too and I did not use air on the way up to Kota Kinabalu.
I almost made to the station where I stared, BUT at 0.9km (0.55 miles) they had a horse taxi sitting there with $10 rides to the finish line.  I took the horse taxi, that last 0.9km was up hill... 9:42am, almost 12 hours from the time I started the hike.
One more story... The train above was my transit from Gora Station in central Hakone to Odawara Station.  From Odawara Station I returned to Nagoya using a shinkansen bullet train.  Because I was leaving from Odwara I had a to use a local train that stopped at all stations along the shinkansen route.  The person sitting next to me on the train was an old Japanese man who was returning from an US East Coast business trip.  He could tell that I just finished climbing fuji (because I had hiking gear and unable to walk).  But we started talking, he was from a prefecture called Shizuoka, for his whole left he has always had a view of Fuji.  As part of our Fuji discussion he noted that a long time ago the Fuji climbing season lasted until October 15th, today it ends at the end of August.  He concluded that todays shorten climbing season was attributed to climate change.

 I put more photos of the climb here.

1 comment:

Erin said...

Wow, good job! I can't believe how many people there were.