Posting photos of my second climb to Mount Fuji’s summit via the Fujinomiya trail this time, which sits on the Shizuoka side of the mountain. Ascent was made on 11th July 2017 and descent the following day. Beautiful weather throughout. Another stunning sunrise seen from Kengamine peak at 3,776m.
I began this blog as a way to relive the amazing two days I spent achieving one of my long held dreams: reaching the summit of Mount Fuji at 3,776m in time to witness the sunrise. This is what the Japanese refer to as Goraiko, the coming of the light, and the experience can only truly be felt rather than explained.
I hope the content here offers aspiring “Fujisaners” a look at what the climb is about and the rewards that await them. I must have read a million blogs on this climb before I embarked on my own adventure, so I hope this serves some purpose to others who find their way here.
Apologies to those who seek detailed information on the necessary gear and items to bring along on the ascent. I’ll limit my advice to sharing the bare essentials I brought: hiking boots, hiking bag, headlight, 4 x 500ml of water, muesli bars, mixed nuts, money, 2 long sleeved thermal shirts, a light jacket, a goose down jacket and inner thermal pants, my phone and GoPro.
My friends and I had planned this trip 6 months prior to the ascent date of 26th August 2016. The safe climbing season is open from early July to mid September. I booked my accommodation at a nice cosy hotel in Ueno Tokyo in February; the 8.5th Station hut Goraikokan at 3,450m in April; and the Keio bus that would take us from Shinjuku to the mountain’s fifth station in July (which you can only do a month prior to your intended date of visit).
We departed Shinjuku at 9am and arrived at the 5th station (2,400m) at 11.30am. Hordes of visitors and fellow climbers were already present as was expected at this time of the year. We spent time acclimatising to the altitude by visiting the souvenir shops, buying our unbranded walking sticks and having lunch.
We set off at 1pm after paying a ¥1,000 Fuji preservation donation. The terrain from the fifth to sixth station was just as I had seen countless times in other Fuji climb blogs and videos. Nothing too strenuous and mostly flat against a still largely green backdrop. Made for a pleasant start to the challenge ahead of us.
Justin, Kana and Toai. The 3 amigos set out on their epic journey (with a thousand others).
From the 6th station onwards, things got a bit more interesting. Nothing too difficult but we had to stop more frequently. It was almost like a race between us and the many tour groups climbing. We’d overtake a group, stop to rest and see them overtake us 5 minutes later. At this stage we couldn’t enjoy any great view due to the clouds.
When they finally cleared, we had an amazing view below. This is also where the ground under us became rocky. Incline was also getting noticeably steeper.
We made our way past several of the 7 stations (there are a few) with the weather now perfect and the view below stunning. We reached the distinct red Torii gate of one of the stations and continued onwards after a short break. At this point we were using both hands and feet coupled with good timing to navigate our path upwards. Lots of scrambling up large rocks.
Still a long way to go. Plenty of breaks taken along the way to prevent onset of altitude sickness. Don’t need that to shatter anyone’s dreams. The air is thinner at greater height and while some people were affected, I was fine the whole time. I attribute it (wrongly or rightly) to being an asthmatic and shortness of breath is something I’m accustomed to.
The view from here was amazing. Lake Yamanako in the distance can be seen clearly. I recalled the last time I was there in 2013, feeding the fish with my family and looking up and admiring Fujisan. Never imagined then I’d be up here three years later.
Up we go with the terrain now resembling Mars, made up of small volcanic ash and rocks.
It’s also getting steeper. At this point I’d like to offer some advice to those who suffer from acrophobia like me. The climb for me was about realising a dream. One that I decided I wasn’t willing to pass on because of an irrational fear. The fear of heights for me increases the closer I am to a ledge or straight drop. Mount Fuji is high no doubt, but during the climb you will never be exposed to any cliff face. If you do slip, you will certainly not roll all the way down the mountain as my irrational mind would have me believe.
What a sight with the shadow cast by Fujisan.
We reached another 8th station Taishikan (3,100m) sometime around 5pm.
Let’s not forget to mention the awesome Fuji stick branding along the way. Charge is between ¥200-¥500 per stamp. Sure glad Australian customs didn’t take this off me. This was a memento which I was really looking forward to having.
Next station at 3,250m reached at around 6.30pm.Kinda pumped here as we were getting close to our lodging hut. Our headlights came out around this time as the sun had gone down.
Reached the original 8th station (yet another) not long after.
Goraikokan hut reached sometime past 8pm. Time for some food and rest. The staff there were very accommodating. Forget about sleep, that was never going to happen! A room full of people snoring and having to share my blanket with a complete stranger.
We left the hut at 2am and marched upwards in the dark. The paths below and above us were illuminated with other climbers’ headlights. We were now moving against a steep incline with numerous switchbacks. We passed the 9th station which was a tiny, unremarkable wooden lodge.
We reached the summit at 4am. So tired I didn’t even take shots of the famous final Torii gate guarded by the dog/lions. On my to do list when I do all this again some day.
Took a few photos of the summit and sent texts to family and friends – via Mount Fuji’s free wifi of course. Because if there is one place you’d expect to have access to wifi, it’s in Japan at 12,389 feet!
Nothing else to do but wait for sunrise in the cold after that.
Japan. Land of the rising sun indeed. Absolutely beautiful.
Mount Fuji is the most climbed mountain in the world with around 300,000 people making the trek every year. The unpredictable weather means that there’s never a guarantee that you will get a clear uninterrupted view of the sun once you get to the summit. We were fortunate to go through a rain free climb and witness all this. Photos above can’t possibly do this whole experience justice.
Obligatory photos with sun in the background as well as in front of stone monument declaring this to be top of Mount Fuji.
I can’t describe what was going through my mind at this point in time. The dream was being lived right there. Just left to soak up the atmosphere around me.
then it was time to take a look at that crater. Easy to forget this mountain is a volcano that last erupted in 1707. Note I didn’t get too close. I hadn’t faced any steep edges climbing up.. wasn’t about to start now at the summit.
Some amazing shots here. Good job Justin’s SLR.
Sea of clouds. Simply stunning!
Then came time to go down. Or as we’d come to realise, 4 hours of knee pounding, monotonous zig zagging on loose gravel. Weather had turned by this stage as well so no nice views of Yamanashi. At the time I counted that as a blessing as it meant I didn’t have to see how high up we were. I twisted my knee at some stage. This was a descent of hellish proportions.
Made it back to the 5th station at around 11.30am. We forced the smile here. All so buggered and hungry!
We had a nice meal before jumping back on the bus to Tokyo. Then it rained, and kept on raining until they closed down the mountain the next day. Typhoon season came early this year. We were extremely lucky!
This large photo was a poster in one of the souvenir shops. Puts the journey into perspective. Right trail is the ascent, left descent. Overall it took us 9 hours to reach the summit and 4 hours to come back down to 5th station.
Would I do this again I’ve been asked. Absolutely! I plan to make this a twice in a lifetime experience. Fujisan, I’ll be back.
Hope you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to ask me any questions. Below is a link to my youtube videos of the climb.