"The Japanese say that to climb Mt. Fuji once is wise, but to climb it twice is foolish."
|The Yoshida climbing trail|
|Starting point at 5th Station/Yoshida Trail|
|The steep slopes/Realizing we went the wrong way|
|Finally catching up to the ascent trail at 8th station|
|The view of the trail at night with all the flashlights lighting up the trail|
|Getting close to the summit, had to start climbing lava rocks|
|My rain pants are completely destroyed. Last shrine before reaching the summit.|
Finally we reached the top, but two hours early! One thing that kept getting worse the higher you got was the wind and at some points it was necessary to stand still and/or to grab something to help not get blown away. By the time we reached the top, our rain/wind pants had both ripped and were providing us no shelter from the wind. Therefore, as I mentioned before, when we reached the summit there were very strong winds, between 30 and 40 mph and it was quite cold with a high of 40F. Both Nick and I did not really dress accordingly; Nick wore frisbee shorts, a t-shirt and his rain jacket. I had on knee length yoga pants, a tank top, a thin sweater, and my rain jacket. And so, we did our best to shelter ourselves from the wind and cold, which was impossible. We found a stairway that led to one of the huts and decided to try and huddle there, the wind continued to blow and both Nick and I could not stop shivering. A wonderful Japanese man saw us suffering and insisted (he would not take no for an answer) we use his tent/wind resistant blanket to cover us. That helped a bit and slowly but surely the remaining hour passed. At the first sight of light we decided to get up and return the blanket to the kind man. What is funny is that as soon as the sun started to peek it's way through, all the summit shops opened. They had hot cocoa for 400 yen, which we decided to buy since I was still shivering and needed some heat. They also had other items which we skipped on, like coffee for 600 yen, cup of noodles for 800 yen, Miso soup for 500 yen, etc. We warmed up a bit and then the sun really began to show it's colors and so we stepped out to the edge to watch the sun rise over the city below. We were lucky because there were only a few clouds and so as the sun rose, the colors and the view just got better and better. It was truly breathtaking. After about 30 minutes of staring at the sunrise and being blown around so much that we began shivering again, we decided to begin our descent. Thank God it never rained on us, we were really very lucky that we had no rain the entire climb.
|Mt. Fuji Sunrise, Kushushi-Jinja Shrine|
|Mt. Fuji Crater|
Our original plan was to watch sunrise and then hike around the crater at the summit, which is said to take around 90 minutes, but because of the intensity of the winds we decided to take photos of the crater from where we were and head back down. Neither of us was prepared enough to last another 90 minutes with the extreme wind and cold. So we began our descent around 5am. The descent was not really any easier than the ascent except for the running out of Oxygen thing. Although the descent was easier on our lungs and heads, it was terrible for our knees. The same trails as mentioned before with the steep slopes and slippery pebbles/sand path caused us a vast amount of pain in our knees and toenails. The only thing that really got us through was going slowly and taking in the beautiful view as we got closer and closer to the ground. Eventually we reached 5th station, ending up with the end of our climb at 8am. 11 hours total. We were so happy to reach the bottom and we definitely understood why "the Japanese say that to climb Mt. Fuji once is wise, but to climb it twice is foolish."
Overall, the experience was a great one and although very tough at times, we made it through and we finished. We accomplished what we wanted and we enjoyed ourselves along the way. Luckily, both Nick and I are in shape enough that we weren't in too much pain the next day, I could see how people who do not exercise would be unable to move the next day because it was very rigorous and definitely hard on your body. But we did it! And we got some great pictures and bragging rights :) One of the surprising things about our climb was that it seemed like there were more Japanese people there then tourists, therefore it was neat to do something that I think most Japanese people try to do at least once in their lifetime. If I could go back in time I would still decide to climb Mt. Fuji but let me tell you, I will never do it again!
|We did it! Return to 5th station.|