Mountain Climbing

07/05/2010

We climbed Mt. Fuji!

“A wise man climbs Mt Fuji once; only a fool does it twice”

(unknown)   

So here are the pictures of our climb.  We made it to the top, in time to see the sunrise and what a sight; though it was short lived.  The sun popped through a layer of clouds at about 10,000 feet (We were at 12,388 ft.) and then disappeared about 20 minutes later into another higher layer of clouds.  But it was worth it. 

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   The journey began late on Friday, July 2nd.  It was just the second day the mountain was officially opened to hikers.  We set off separately.  My husband and daughter weren’t sure how long it would take them, so they went ahead starting at 5 p.m..  My son and I followed about an hour later, and caught up with them at the 6th station.  The hike begins at what’s called the 5th station, which is not much more than a giant bus stop with lots of restaurants and stores selling Fuji souvenirs.  Seventy percent of tourists who travel to the 5th station never go any higher. 

   

The path to the summit takes you up a series of switchback trails to the sixth station and then a rocky trail to the seventh and eighth stations and then the summit.  By 8 p.m. it was dark and headlamps and a flashlight guided us up the path.  At this point we were scrambling over rocks.  We planned to sleep at a hut at the 8th station and arrived there at 9:30 pretty pooped.  

  

 Sleeping in a hut is like going to a “not so nice” sleep-away camp.  Everyone sleeps communally under quilts in bi-level bunks. The huts are privately owned and some have been in the same family for generations.  It appears to be lucrative business.  For just a few hours sleep we paid 6500 yen…that’s about 65-70 dollars per person.

     

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We were in a room with about 20 other people, and managed to get a few hours sleep.  My husband left at 1am to get a head start, the rest of us took off at about 2:30.  We shuffled our way to the top with dozens of others along the path-headlamps twinkling.  And by 4:30 we reached the top….just in time to see the sunrise…cheering at the sight along with  about 200 other hikers.  Take a look at the photos.  Glad we did it…but as the saying goes, once is enough.

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06/27/2010

Climbing Mount Fuji

There is more way than one to scale a mountain. Many have several routes to the top.  Mt Fuji has four.  Along the trail, there are huts, big and small, where weary hikers can stop and rest. You can hike during the day, but most people choose to hike at night so they arrive at the summit in time to see the sunrise at about four thirty a.m.  It means the walk up starts at 10 or 11 o'clock the night before.

Of course you can also try what four people are going to do this fall.  They will climb Fuji four times in 24 hours to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project.  That means on average it will take them six hours to go up and down. It will take us 10 to 12.  

Since I have only read about the huts and trails I will wait until we have firsthand experience before going into more detail.  I will tell you we are doing this without a guide.  The trails are marked and because there are so many other hikers we should be fine.  We will follow the pack and hope they are going in the right direction.
 

As this blog goes out, we should be arriving in Tokyo.  I will have more in a day or two, provided all gadgets are in working order. 

-- Diana Williams

06/26/2010

Diana Williams heads to Mt. Fuji

Another year, another mountain and this year it is Mt Fuji in Japan. My family and I will attempt to climb Japan's highest mountain next Thursday.  We are gathering gear, climbing poles and more, and hoping that the mountain roads on Fuji will be open by next week.  Right now they are still closed.  Climbing season for many mountains is during the summer because there is less snow or none at all.  Apparently, there is still a great deal of snow on top of Fuji.  It’s a long way to go to find they have hung out a "closed to climbers" sign.  So keep fingers crossed for us.

 

Mt. Fuji’s climbing season runs from July 1st to August 31st.  There are four routes to the top and none of them is scenic.  More than 200 thousand people climb the mountain each summer. Think of trying to walk along crowded 5th Avenue at Christmas time. That's how jammed the trails get near the top.  Sometimes you just shuffle along with the crowd.   It will be cold, crowded, and possibly rainy, and at 12,388 feet, one or more of us may be sucking on a can of oxygen.  As my kids say, another fun hike with mom.

 

Majestic Mt Fuji-San is a sacred mountain.  It is named after the Buddhist fire goddess Fuchi.  Summiting is more pilgrimage than climb.  The spiritual element is what makes the crowds, the weather, and the grim rocky landscape all bearable.  At least that’s what I keep telling the family.  We will also spend some time in Tokyo and Kyoto.  My first trip to Asia, so if you have any advice, please feel free to leave a message on my Facebook page.  I am hoping all my gadgets will work on the other side of the world.

 

Tomorrow I’ll have more details on the hike itself. 

 

- Diana Williams