From Saturday July 2 to Sunday July 3 I climbed Mt. Fuji for the second time in my life. I have been planning on climbing Mt. Fuji again for a while and this time I got many of my friends to go with me as well. My group started out quite small, but soon grew to a group of 12 people including my sister and her friend who were visiting Japan at the time. The plan was to take a bus from Shinjuku in the evening and climb all night to get to the top for the sunrise. Since I was the one who was planning the trip, I had to coordinate everything as well which was difficult given that I really had no clue what I was doing in the first place, so I had a friend call the bus company to reserve 12 seats on the bus that took us directly to the 5th stage of Mt. Fuji and other friends helped with other aspects of planning as well. I am not a good planner as I normally just show up to wherever and improvise.
For me, climbing the mountain was a little more difficult than I expected. Last time I went, my friends and I stayed at the 8th stage to get some rest and acclimate to the altitude before climbing to the top. This time it was a nonstop race to the top before sunrise. In addition, I was able to get little sleep before climbing as I had to get up at 8:30 am on Saturday morning to go to work. Immediately after work I went to Shinjuku and changed out of my work clothes into my hiking clothes in public. Then I met up with everyone else and we all got on the bus for ‘Fujisan gogome’.
The bus arrived at around 10:00pm at the starting point of our climb. Climbing a mountain with a large group is quite difficult as everyone has their own different pace and climbing style. Overall, it was not too bad as we took lots of breaks and waited for the slower people to catch up. Around the 7th stage we were not really 1 big group anymore and instead many small groups of people climbing the mountain, but it was okay as we all knew we would meet at the top for the sunrise. Sunrise was at 4:30am and after a difficult night of climbing, of which we had nice weather, there was success… at least for some. Everyone except for 2 people eventually made it to the top of Mt. Fuji. I think only about 3 made it to the top for the sunrise, I was one of them. Unfortunately, I had to rush to the top at the end to get up in time, which considering the height of Mt. Fuji (3776 meters) was, in retrospect, not a good thing to do. After thoroughly enjoying the beautiful sunrise my adrenaline high started to wear off and ‘kouzanbyou’ (altitude sickness) started to set in. It wasn’t that bad and I had a nice rest at the top. Once everyone had arrived at the summit we took some pictures before a few clouds started to come in and we all started to head back down.
Going down was much more difficult for me as I was suffering the effects of altitude sickness, sleep deprivation, and exhaustion combined. My legs experienced some of the most severe cramp-like pain ever, and going down a mountain the path is nothing but loose rocks which did not help either. About halfway down the mountain everyone took a small break and I immediately fell asleep. They woke me up 30 minutes later to continue the decent, however I was surprisingly feeling much better and for the rest of the way and had no more problems at all. Once we all had made it back to the 5th stage we got tickets for the earliest bus out which was actually in about 2 hours from the time. So we went to a restaurant and got some lunch, ate, and proceeded to put our heads down on the table and go to sleep. After one last picture we rode the bus back home and, exhausted, all went to sleep.
Some of my other friends were not able to go on this trip with me, so before I left I said I might make another climb to the top of Mt. Fuji this year. Yet on the way down I told myself that there is no way one can do this twice in a year. However, my other friends still want to go, so sometime in August I may climb Mt. Fuji again, but next time I think we will do the smart thing and sleep at the 8th stage again. Either way, Mt. Fuji is an experience that will never be forgotten and it has become one of my most beautiful memories yet again.
From left top row : Eiji, Masa, Wataru, Katyo, Heywon, Erika, Emily, Takeshi W.
From left bottom row : Kate, Takeshi, Me, Toru.
Halfway there.. we got to keep going.
One of the most satisfying and beautiful sights ever.
The group at the 5th stage. We had conquered Mt. Fuji.