Climbing Mt. Fuji

Stayed in Japan for almost 3 years AND not climbing the world famous Mt. Fuji is... unacceptable.

A friend of mine invited me to follow his university club's yearly visit to Mt. Fuji. I said yes before he even finished his sentence. He was cool enough to set the dates according to my schedules too.

We climbed on a weekday to avoid crowds since Mt Fuji is a popular mountain. We decided to climb on Thursday then descend on Friday. Conquering the mountain in a single day is highly not recommended for many reasons; fainting due to exhaustion is one of it.

Prep

Was told to bring as little thing as possible as dragging a heavy bag all the way to the summit is not a bright idea.

Extra clothes, head lamp, water, power bars, energy drinks, my camera and a tripod was everything I had in my bag.

The heaviest thing I brought with me would be the tripod. Since there's little to no light pollution up there, it should be a good opportunity for me to capture starry night skies. Being an astrophysics and photography nut, gotta make good use of this opportunity. I'll bring that heavy tripod, I'll sacrifice something else to reduce the total weight..

..like food. Maybe. I don't need food, right? Nah, I'm not that crazy.

The Climb

Starting the climb

Enjoy the greens while you still can, there will be none up there.

We took a bus to the 5th Station and arrived there at 10am. While the weather was forecasted to rain the whole day, it was drizzling lightly when we reached the 5th station. Lucky. We had to wait until 1pm for the rest of the group to arrive.

The view at 5th station itself was already stunning, I wonder how the world would look like from the summit.

We started our climb from the 5th Station at 2pm and expected to reach the 8th Station by 6pm.

I bought a hiking pole, whatever it's called. It's a wooden stick where you can get it hot stamped at every station. For some others, it's a burden because you have one less free hand. For me, it was a huge help; it's extremely useful at navigating around and acts as my arm's extension. I tied bells to it, to terrorise everyone around me with the bells' noise.

Mt.Fuji, 5.2km to go.

The summit, covered with clouds, with the path zig-zags towards the cloud.

First hour of climbing was fun. We had a lot of energy, we were talking about random things, this and that.

Then following hours were like... "are we fucking there yet?". The climb seemed to be endless, with the path leading us beyond the clouds. Can't even see the summit.

Most of the time, I was just staring down at the path, ensuring that I don't slip myself to embarrassment, or death. The trail was pretty easy at first; we were literally just walking uphill. It got harder as the trail turns rougher and rocky. That hiking pole really helped me securing my balance; just poke the ground and push myself forward with it.

There were metal chains along the way marking our path. It's kinda foolproof, so we won't get lost. We were told not to touch or grab the chains for safety reasons.

At the same time, constantly munching something all the way up because I was hungry all the time. Climbing a mountain burns a lot of energy, and we had to constantly replenish the lost energy. Kept myself hydrated all the time too. The power bars and energy juice packs that I had with me were very convenient.

Oh yea, there's 4G connection along the way. Like, wow. That's convenient. I know some might bitch that "Hurr, this is supposed to be the outdoors. You need to disconnect from the world", but hey, at least it's a choice. If you want to be disconnected, just don't use your phone then.

Visibility was occasionally low.

Terrain is getting rough.

Getting my hiking pole hot stamped.

Don't be fooled by the distance, climbing 3.6km is way different than walking 3.6km.

The trail is getting steeper. Enjoy the stairs while you can, because there will be no more stairs later...

Lots of stations and sub-stations between the 5th Station to the Summit. They sell stuffs up there, and the price increases as the elevation increases.

Every time we reached a station, I'd get my hiking pole hot stamped. It's not free; it can cost ¥300-400 per stamp. Yeah, it's a ripoff but I didn't care. It's cool, and I'm dead set on having the hiking pole fully stamped. This might be my first and last time climbing this mountain anyway, so might as well get myself a worthy trophy.

Then I remembered that I cycled to the train station today, and wondering how awkward it would be cycling while carrying a wooden stick with stamps all over it with me. Welp, I'd worry about that later.

We were advised not to rush to the summit too as we need to conserve our energy and to let our body adapt to high altitude.

The air gets thinner as you climb higher. Some experience altitude sickness as your body are taking in less oxygen than usual. Small cans of oxygen supplies are sold at station.

Lucky me, I felt fine, and doing well without the oxygen cans. I do wonder if those things are helpful though; if I depended on them, I would think that my body would have a harder time to adjust to the higher altitude.

Maybe my slow pace helped me? Maybe, I don't know. My small group took many quick breaks to ensure we don't overexert ourselves. Also, this is my first time climbing a mountain, and I have no idea what awaits me further up. The experienced ones told me that "it gets tougher up there".

I spent most of my time looking at the path that I've forgotten to look what was waiting behind me.

So far, it's worth it.

The view was stunning. I started to check my 6 more often, especially when I'm tired to motivate me. The view turns cinematic as the sun sets.

I think the view made us a lot slower since we kinda wasted a lot of time staring at the sea of fluffy clouds.

And hell, the climb did get tougher, especially when it got darker.

Cinematic.

Naturally, the higher you go, the lower the temperature goes.

One of the stops on the mountain trails.

It was getting dark, we had to rush to the 8th Station before it gets completely dark.

We reached the 8th Station at 8pm, two hours later than expected. It was dark by 6pm. There are many small lodging at this station and we already booked spots for ourselves months ago. It's small, just enough for you to lie down and put your bags at your legs. Don't expect fancy lodging, you're up on a mountain, not a ski resort.

This is where we recharge ourselves; have dinner, then sleep till 2am.

Did I go to sleep immediately as told? NAH. I ain't wasting this opportunity to take long exposure shots. Sadly, while there's no light pollution, the skies were somewhat cloudy. Meh.

Light trails of climbers heading to our direction, 8th Station.

Long exposure shot of the city.

It was pretty cloud most of the time, and this is the only best shot I can get of the stars.

We continued our climb at 2am.

...no, I couldn't get any sleep. The lodging were pretty cramped and also, I'm quite the insomniac ._.

But worry not, I believed that I could reach the top without any problems.

It was raining, so we had to continue the climb in our raincoats, and the temperature was freezing. I was assaulted by chill winds all the way to the summit.

There were A LOT of climbers. So many that we were lining up all the way to the summit. Yes, human traffic jam. We encountered many selfish climbers (from a certain foreign country) who blocked the entire path to rest, when there were many proper spots to do so.

Thought that if I reached the summit earlier than expected, could setup the tripod and attempt to capture the stars again. Nope, not happening with this traffic.

Traffic jam on mountains, is real.

Line of climbers.

Patiently waiting for the sun.

Reached the summit before the sun's up. Lucky.

But yeah, I REACHED THE SUMMIT YO. ACHIEVEMENT FUCKING UNLOCKED. And hell it was freezing too.

After securing a spot on the summit to wait for the sun, I stared at the horizon; the beautiful horizon. Words can't describe what I saw. Pictures can't describe what I saw.

The sun sure took it's time to appear. Then the sun appears...

First light of the day.

...and it reminded me that I've forgotten the fact that you shouldn't look at the sun directly without eye protection. While it was magical, beautiful and awesome, it was also blinding bright as fuck.

But really, the view was pretty epic. It felt like I've unlocked a huge achievement and the view of the sunrise was the reward.

Instantly forgotten about all the pain and the freezing temperature too (...for a while.)

Generic hot ramen. Not bad, really.

Achievement Unlocked: Climbed Mt. Fuji. Me, with my awesome stick fully stamped.

We were very lucky that weather was pretty clear. My friend who invited me to this trip said that this was his third time climbing the mountain, and it rained for the two previous trip. So, it was his first time seeing the sunrise on the summit too.

After awhile, the visibility was erratic again. We were occasionally ambushed by clouds. It was kinda cool that we could be incoming clouds rushing towards us from the other side of the crater.

It was a big mistake for not having a face mask; strong chill winds were giving me a hard time wandering around the peak. There were many spots that I wanted to visit on the summit, but the chill wind kind demotivated me from doing so.

At least, I went into the shrine to get my final last stamp. And also did manage to see the deep crater.

Seek shelter in one of the huts on the summit, and ordered some hot food to warm up; ramen.

Walking along the clouds.

The Descend

Grouped up with the rest and it's time to head home.

True suffering, starts here.

We used a different path to descend the mountain; it's a lot easier than the hike path. This path is used by supply trucks, while it's pretty steep, it's a flat road.

The path might seem easy, but descending a mountain is a lot more unforgiving.

Proud that I made to the summit.

Tired peeps.

My sole started to hurt like a bitch halfway the descend. Seriously, descending a mountain was a living nightmare. I just felt like giving up on walking, but I don't have that choice. You either continue walking... or you're stuck on the mountain forever. Can't rest for too long too as we had a charted bus waiting for us at specific time; gotta reach 5th Station before the bus arrives or yes, stuck on the mountain.

Slowly toyed with the idea of dying on the mountain as if it doesn't seem like a bad idea... it's a famous mountain. Nah, just kidding.

Occasionally supply trucks passes by. No, we can't hitchhike the supply trucks, unless there's an emergency. So tempting to go Grand Theft Auto.

We did had some setbacks though. One of the girls sprained her foot and she couldn't walk without being actively assisted all the way down. We were worried that we might miss our bus if we were to continue descending at crawling pace.

We requested help from passing supply truck and they were kind enough to let our friend ride the truck.... only to the next station. Not that helpful, but still it was better than nothing. She'll be way ahead of us before and we could catch up with her easily.

Meanwhile, on the way down there was a little girl who were crying to the mom "I don't wanna walk anymore ;_;". Poor mom, we still have hours to go before we'll reach the 5th station.

Finally reached 5th station. Looking forward to sleep in the bus.

We reached 5th station at 1.30pm. Due to my foot injury, I was part of the last group to reach 5th station.

It was a huge relief reaching the station, knowing that the hard part of the journey has ended. There's still more to go for me. The long train ride to my station from the university, and cycling back home from the station.

Most people would be dead the next day, taking the whole day just sleeping on bed.

What did I do the next day? I WENT TO SUMMER COMIKET to meet up my bros at IOEA booth. And, later that night, it's my flight back to Malaysia. Then straight to run a training volunteer camp for an upcoming event after touching down in Malaysia. After 2 intense week in Malaysia, flying back to Tokyo. Yeah, I'm pretty insane.

I swear that while descending the mountain, I was like "I ain't doing this again. Never doing this again". However, after I'm properly rested now, the desire to conquer the mountain is burning again.

Next time, I shall drag more friends to suffer with me. And next time, I will be far more prepared.

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