Trip Start Oct 03, 2007
Trip End Mar 19, 2008

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

I had an early night trying to fight the jetlag (with little success) but managed to get up early for Mount Fuji anyways. I figured I would meet people on the trail, afterall lots of Japanese climb it - or at least attempt to do so.

Also worthwhile noting: I met Pierre and Eugene (who also stayed at my hostel) at the busstation as they were about to leave and they had forgotten to hand in their key, worth a 1000 Yen deposit that I got for returning it. Cheers!

Some general infos about Mount Fuji: it is 3776 meters high, a huge volcano standing out over 1000m higher than any of the other mountains around. It's not a difficult mountain to climb as such, but stamina is required as it just goes up and up and up - its base is at around 750m, making it a 3000 meter ascent. Fortunately, there is a bus going up to just over 2000 meters - but that bus is only running in the morning so most Japanese either just have a look around and take the last bus back at 13:30 or stay overnight in one of the many "stations". There are supposed to be 10 stations along the way (cunningly named station1, station2, station3, etc), but since Mount Fuji is so popular there are now also station 8.5 or station 6.45.

After station 7 (2750m) most Japanese gave up as the wide path got steeper and more narrow - still very easy. My strategy was not to stop to give my jetlag no chance to make me tired - surprisingly this strategy worked! At one of my very few rests I met Takehi and Stom with whom I exchanged some food - they got boring peanuts and gave me... hmmm I'm not to sure! One looked like white chocolate, but wasn't. And the dried stick tasted fishy. Yumm!

The going got harder, and even though I was above the clouds and in the sun the wind was f***ing freezing. And I mean f***ing freezing. I also started to feel the altitude a little which was to be expected due to no proper sleep in the previous 3 nights.

Once at the summit I was almost on my own, there was only one other Japanese climber (great to take pictures!) around. The summit crater looks really impressive and it was a majestic feeling to be up here. Just a shame that I couldn't see anything underneith the cloud cover. I did not stay very long because of the cold wind, and I had a long descent in front of me anyways: 3000 meters down, and over 25 km distance back to Kawaguchiko. I managed to get back into the trees before it got dark, and took the old traditional path far away from the trodden tourist roads. This was rewarded because there were little temples and shrines all along the way, unmapped and forgotten. Surely not many people walk this way! I met a total of 5 Japanese in 5 hours before getting back into civilisation.

When returning to the hostel I felt tired but Esko and Roberta, a girl from Canada, invited me on a "green label" beer so how could I resist? And it did help against the jetlag, too: After only 2 nights in Japan its gone!

To finish, here is an often quoted sentence about Mount Fuji:
"Every wise man should climb Fujisan once, but only a fool would do it twice."
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