Climbing Mount Fuji was one of the things I was really excited about. We arrived at the 5th station (basically you start half-way up) at lunchtime on Sunday and purchased our essential gear of lots of water and walking sticks.
We started climbing at 2pm and at about 2.01pm it started raining. We walked very slowly, to minimise the risk of altitude problems (Fuji is 3776m, which is high enough to cause you difficulties). But we really had no choice but to walk slowly because there were thousands of people on the route and lots of congestion. As you can see, the Japanese favour brightly-coloured outdoor gear. Seriously, going in the North Face shop in Tokyo is enough to cause seizures.
It’s quite a tough climb, bits of scrambling in places, but that didn’t stop lots of kids and grannies making the trip, which meant that we were too embarrassed to complain so we pressed on stoically. After 3 1/2 hours climbing we reached the mountain hut where they had a reservation for “Lauren-san”. We got a nice dinner of Japanese -style hamburgers and rice.
We then retired to our sleeping quarters, which were in a room with four bunk beds, each about the size of a king-size bed. Mr Beet and I shared our bunk with six Japanese people, which was cosy but not conducive to a restful night’s sleep, even though we were shattered. We got up at11.30pm to set off again just before midnight, climbing through the night in an attempt to reach the summit in time for sunrise.
As we neared the summit, the sky was beginning to get lighter so altitude sickness be damned, we raced up the last 500m or so, and reached the top at about 4.20am. The climb up had taken 8 hours in total, but we’d made it and now all we had to do was wait for the sun to creep over the horizon.
Although the sky had been getting light from about 4am, tricking us into thinking that sunrise was imminent, we had to wait until about 4.45 for the sun to finally put in an appearance in the Land of the Rising Sun.
It was freezing at the top, so we breakfasted on hot ramen and devoured the cereal bars that our parkrun friend Janet had given us.
We posed for the obligatory summit photo:
We then started back down, which took another 4 hours, before reaching the 5th station for a well-earned ice cream.
More photos are available on Mr Beet’s flickr page – http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrbeet/sets/