Mt. Fuji - The Beast

Possibly one of the best memories I will have of Japan or life in general occurred over the period of August 21st 9:30AM up until August 22nd 3:16PM. In that time I had everything go wrong and oh so right at the same time. I couldn't get on a bus I had already paid for five people, I froze while trying to sleep on the side of the tallest mountain in Japan, I reached the peak with what little strength I had left and I happened to walk a mile or two extra down the mountain to get to the wrong checkpoint for a bus that wasn't there.

To start things off when my four friends Jason, Joe, Dan and Richie arrived at the bus station at 9:30AM with only minutes until the bus would depart we found out we couldn't get on. It turned out that the piece of paper I received from the booking agency wasn't actually the ticket, but instead it was the receipt. So even though they knew those five seats would be empty when the bus rolled on up to Mt. Fuji we couldn't get on. Even after the five of us continued to ask for managers and demand at least our money back they refused to give us anything to compensate our loss. This led us to take a combination of trains and buses that also turned out to be more confusing than one would think, but this was not nearly as frustrating as the original bus mishap.

We arrived at the 5th station early afternoon and proceeded to inspect each touristy shop and the temple that accompanied them. We met a Portuguese woman who was finishing up her six month traveling stint ending in Japan and had decided to climb Mt. Fuji. Technically the climbing season ended nearly a month ago so any climbers still going forth had slowly deteriorating weather to combat during the climb. We also met two German travelers, a couple guys from the UK and a handful of Japanese climbers while waiting. Unfortunately, all the shops and restaurants closed by 8:00PM so we were forced to the hard streets of the 5th station. To get the most rest possible we decided to try and sleep outside. We had a combination of sleeping in the pseudo alleys and walking around talking to the other foreigners until around 12:30Am when we decided to start the trek.

Now keep in mind that we are starting our hike up the 3,776m (12,388ft for you standard system folks) mountain in the dead of night with temperatures around 10°C (50°F) and around -2°C (28°F) around the peak. Along with the temperature falling you have to deal with decreasing oxygen levels and unless you've experienced it its difficult to explain the feeling of low levels of oxygen. You'll breathe but you don't feel like you take in nearly as much oxygen making it feel almost like your drowning in air. On top of that you have several types of terrain: two steps forward one step back gravel, nearly always switchback (climbing up diagonally to avoid the steepness), boulders and rocks that nearly make you go on hands and knees. This means when you finally do get a rest even after five minutes or so your heart won't stop pounding out of your chest because you just can't get as much oxygen as you're used to no matter how hard you try.

All of us reached the summit around 5:30AM and I can tell you without a doubt that it felt damn good to put my foot down knowing I didn't have to climb an inch higher. Everything was so beautiful from that altitude. The sun rise, mountains in the distance and the clouds all combined in unison to create some of the most stunning views I've seen in my life. The only thing that could compare was seeing the landscape in New Mexico on a similar, but much longer excursion.
These pictures won't do any justice to what I saw, the only thing I can add to them is to tell you to come climb it yourself. I will guarantee you won't be disappointing when you do.

Not me, but I promise I was there

First minutes of sun rise

One of my favorite shots from the climb

The center of the beast, 300 years ago there was magma spewing out.

All in all I would do it again in an heart beat if I had the opportunity. It might have bruised and beat me, but I can say "I climbed Mt. Fuji" and I've seen the sites she has to offer. Both those benefits outweigh anything that happened to prevent me from reaching the top. This had nothing to do with school, but I'm happy to say it'll be one of my

If you'd like to see all my pictures you can go to: My Facebook Album or My Webshots Fuji Album

1 comment:

Derek said...

This is amazing.