Trip Start Apr 05, 2007
18Trip End Feb 11, 2008
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I chose to go with a tour group by the name of "Jam Jam" to get me through my mountain voyage. As I said previously, over the summer period the mountain literally comes alive with climbers, and even people living right up to the peak in order to sell their services to the climbers. With this also comes a variety of tourist packages, often including bus pickup from various cities, a guide, accomodation, meals, and even a relaxing onsen (public bathhouse) after the climb. Various tour groups have various packages, ranging from the more expensive, which includes the guide, to the cheapest "challenge" package which offers the same accomodation, but allows you to move at a freer pace, minus the guide. Also keep in mind there are "peak" days throughout the summer time, and prices within the tour groups range accordingly.
Come 3pm we began our climb up the mountain. I wont go into too much detail from here on (theres only so much you can say about climbing) but just highlight some parts. With the tour guide we climbed until the 8th stop, approximately 3050m, and took a well needed break at what I believe is called the "shirokumosou" ryoukan. We arrived there about 9pm and were supplied with curry and rice for dinner and tried to sleep through till 2am. Trying to sleep is indeed one interesting feat. Through a combination of altitude sickness, sharing a bed (the beds are more like one big long mattress, with separate pillows for each person), noisy climbers outside etc, sleep is almost inconceivable, but rest will have to suffice. The best cure for altitude sickness is allowing your body to get used to it's conditions, and this 5 hour rest definatly did that. Previously I had struggled badly, taking rests at every corner (about 20 metres apart), but after the rest I felt great, ready to tackle the climbing again.
At approximately 5.15am I reached the very peak of Mt Fuji. With the last few minutes getting brighter and brighter I feared not reaching the peak on time, although it was not something I had to fear. I was unlucky enough to reach the peak and see nothing but a LOT of people, and cloud. Everywhere, cloud. But nothing can take away the sense of achievement of reaching that peak.
So, you've made it to the peak, What else is there to do but climb down, right? Wrong! Personally due to the bad weather I didnt explore as far as I will when I reclimb the mountain (I WILL see that sunrise), but on the peak there are many shops; and if you go at the right time of year you can even send a postcard to all your friends from the famous post office (yes, at the peak). Theres always the crater, or even the functioning weather station that warns of all major typhoons and more across Japan. Also if you search hard enough I've heard it's possible to find a nice burn brand for the "tsue" (pilgram stick), although I myself only found the etched/ink version.
Then comes the long climb down. Although it takes nowhere near as long as the climb up, the climb down is still not easy. And it is infact where most of my blisters formed. The climb down takes a different route to that of the upward route, which is why climbing down only took me about 2-3 hours, although I was much slower than many of my group. Once back at the 5th station we were again free to explore the souvineer shops or the temple, and since the post office from the top was closed when I went, take second best and send a postcard from halfway up the mountain. The bus didn't end up leaving until 1pm, so theres also time to try and rest at one of the free beds or grab a meal. From there we headed to the onsen and then back to Nagoya, arriving about 8-9pm.
What to keep in Mind -
The main point to keep in mind if you intend to climb Mt Fuji, it is a long climb, and it's quite common to experience altitude sickness. Altitude sickness can be anything from headaches, dizziness, heart palpatations, fatigue, loss of breath and physical illness. If you start to experience these whilst climbing, SLOW DOWN! take a break. Altitude sickness, if ignored, can cause blackouts, and even death. Don't be afraid to turn around and go back down, it's not worth dying for!
It's popular to climb Mt Fuji over summer, and although it can be a scorching 40 degrees at the base, the higher you climb, the thinner the atmosphere, and the colder it gets. Although I climbed in the middle of summer, at the peak I was wearing a beanie, two jumpers, rainshirt and pants, gloves, thick jeans and thick long socks! And I was still shivering!
What to Bring -
A change of clothes/warmer clothes
water proof clothes, whether it's a raincoat, poncho, the weather changes very fast up Mt Fuji.
Water - It's pricey up the mountain
Money - for souvineers, The Pilgram stick stamps cost about 200 yen each ($2 AUD) - also food/drinks
Snacks - pack some lollies for a quick sugar burst, but also some high callorie/slow burst energy food.
If Possible a Camera to take some pictures for something to remember it by.
Good shoes and good thick socks
treking stick/s if you're so inclined although they can also be a hindrence.
If climbing at night a headlight is DEFINATLY handy.
Where I stayed
Shirokumosou, 8th Stop, Mt Fuji, Japan