The Japanese have a proverb about climbing Mt. Fuji. “You are wise to climb Mt. Fuji, but a fool to do it twice.” It will be tough to convince me to do it again. We had a great time, but I’m not sure I can be fooled again. Here’s the story.
We arrived at the 5th station a little before 5am. When we exited the bus, the mountain was right in front of us. I remember thinking, that doesn’t look very big for a mountain. Then I looked behind me.
The view opposite the mountain. Notice the cloud height and other mountains.
After using the restroom and purchasing our hiking stick, we set off on our way. As we began, we had the opportunity to enjoy an amazing sunrise.
The climb up had the expected level of challenge. The mountain is 3,776m or 12,389 ft and you begin climbing at 2300m. The composition and terrain also factor into the climbing challenge. Mt. Fuji is an active volcano (although it hasn’t erupted for over 300 years) and as you climb, you’re climbing sharp, rough igneous rocks. Plus, the climb is steep. At various points I was scrambling over the rocks on all fours. This was all part of the fun of the climb and we were prepared for the challenge.
Let’s jump ahead to station 8. Station 8 is also where the huts are located. You can reserve a cot at a Mountain Hut and sleep next to a stranger in order to hike to the summit and observe sunrise. Personally, Station 8 was my favorite. At 3400m, station 8 offered a cute monkey stamp, a gentle breeze and a glimpse of the proximity of the summit. Not so fast, trail blazer! Only 300m of elevation. It takes more than that to actually get there.
By the time we arrived at station 8.5, the climb began to get strenuous. The toughest part of the climb was after station 8 to the summit. In fact, the final 600 meters were brutal. 600 m is nothing. 1.5 laps around the track. Unless, you’re climbing up and over igneous rock boulders at over 12,000 feet. Next time, I’m taking oxygen. My head was pounding. Wait a second… Who said anything about next time?
We finally reach the summit. I’ll admit, I was looking for something more. There wasn’t an amazing view because we were clothed in clouds and the final stamp guy wasn’t there today!?! The highlight of making it to the summit was lunch. We ate tuna Onigiri & these little pancake sandwiches Dave grabbed. Dave Dwyer for the win! These pancake sandwiches were filled with syrup and butter.
Alright, time to move on. The weather was changing and we thought it best to get moving on down the mountain. The weather changed quickly. Within 10 minutes of leaving the summit there was a thick fog & rain. It proceeded to rain all the way down. Our 3 hour descent was in a downpour. In fact, the trail was washing out before our eyes. We had been warned of the rain and packed rain gear. We just weren’t expecting a 3 hour slog down the mountain.
This is the same spot I took a selfie at the beginning of the hike. By the end we are drenched and Mt. Fuji isn’t visible. Dave’s face is priceless.
Our sweet reward for completing an amazing hike.
Back to the proverb at the beginning. Will I hike Fuji again? Maybe. Someone will need to visit and convince me it is on their bucket list. As we were finishing, we watched group after group set out in the rain. They were going to spend the night at station 8 in the cots. By the time they arrived they would be as soaked as we were and would sleep on a cot in an open air hotel and wake to finish climbing in the morning. In wet boots and maybe even wet clothes. Nope. None of that sounds fun. Therefore, I will say “maybe” to hiking it again if we do just the day hike and I’m going with someone who REALLY wants to make the climb.
Our stats for the day:
Total miles: 17.85
Total hiking time: 10 hours (5.5 up/1 for lunch / 3.5 down)