Mount Fuji Climbing Expedition
August 13th, 2002
Click Here for the next set of pictures
There is a Japanese proverb which states that "one who never climbs Mount Fuji is a fool, and one who climbs twice is twice the fool." Well, on August 9th the idea came to me that I should not be a fool any longer. Since I live and work in Japan, I knew that I should not waste the opportunity to try to climb the highest mountain in Japan. The problem was that there was little time to prepare for my
expedition. And since I have no experience mountain climbing (the last thing I climbed was a barstool), I needed to purchase many things such as hiking boots, Oxygen containers, a head light, raingear, food, etc etc. . So after searching English and Japanese web sites for information and shopping at many outdoor shops in downtown Umeda (Osaka) contributing a significant amount of Japanese yen to the crippled economy , I was as prepared to conquer Mount Fuji during the normal climbing season. My plan was to climb from the 5th to the 8th station and stay at the Fuji Hotel until the morning. Then I would climb up to see the sunrise. Sounded simple on paper. Below are a series of photographs that I took to document my climb. . Lets start the journey from the beginning.
I decided to start off from the Kawaguchikoguchi 5th station up the mountain (2,305 meters). This is actually a very popular place to start up the mountain as I met many Japanese and foreign climbers here. I took a shinkansen from Osaka to Shin Fuji station and then took a bus up to the 5th station. This part of the journey started at 6AM and got me to my destination at 12:15. After waking up at 4:30 am and after spending 6 hours traveling, I was pretty beat. But once I arrived at the 5th station my adrenaline kicked in and I was ready to start! After purchasing the token hiking stick (which can be stamped at the stations on the way up) and after eating my last real meal of a hamburger and hotdog, I was ready to go. The picture here shows the festive atmosphere of the 5th station.
Here is the starting gate for the climb welcoming all the fools to start the climb. This gate is also the ending gate for those who come down. Its funny to see all the fresh faces of those who are starting to climb mixed with the exhausted faces of those who just finished and want to die. I met a Canadian man and Japanese woman who just finished their journey. His advice to me was to let the mountain pull me up the second half of the climb when I run out of energy after the first half. I should have turned around at that point, but then I would have been a bigger fool for wasting my time and money without trying. So I thanked him and continued on hoping to conquer the challenge that was set before me.
Here I am fresh and excited to start my adventure with clean cloths and my stick (complete with an American Flag) in my hand. You will see a different looking person in the last picture after I come down.
its now 1:15 PM. Half an hour into the climb and I have already made it to the 6th station (2,386 meters). My hotel that I planned to stay at over night is on the 8th station. I was pretty happy at the point since I though at this pace I could be up the mountain and back down before the day is done. Oh what little did I know!
As I continue up, the view gets better and better. The 6th station was in the clouds so there was not much to see. One you start climbing above the clouds you can see unbelievable views like this that previously only could have been seen from the inside of an airplane.