What an extremely tiring last day!
As most of you all know my family and I climbed Mt. Fuji today. This blog post is about my experience, others experiences, and false assumptions.
Most individuals that I met on my journey upwards (myself included) assumed that since
Mt. Fuji was open to the public it would be an easier climb than other mountains.
This is a false assumption.
There are 10 marked stations on the path leading to the top of the mountain. There is a completely different, easier, path to climb down the mountain. My younger brother and sister got sick by the middle of the sixth station and were fortunate to still have the
opportunity to go back to our beginning station with relative ease. My poor Mom took the bullet for the team and went down with the kids so that my Dad and I could conquer the mountain (thank you Mom! We love you so much).
Anyway, after the sixth station there is no way to get back down the mountain on a safe path. This is not advertised before individuals, couples, or groups begin their journey and is also not advertised on the path before the sixth station. So, now you know – if you think your body won’t be able to handle the 6 hour rock climbing/uphill lunge walking leave by the sixth station.
Obviously, a few brave and exhausted souls threw in the towel and went down the same way they came up. Believe me when I tell you that this is not a good idea. There were times my
Dad and I were climbing on all fours almost diagonally. Therefore, I really don’t see how people could use the “up” path to get back down.
What I’m saying is, when you start going up you are forced to make it to the top. An example of this was a young girl (I’m guessing she was about 12-14 years old) was with her father and her elder brother. My dad and I walked by them about three times and the girl fainted twice. As I have mentioned, there isn’t a way to get back down so the father and brother tried to help her as much as possible but, they had to get to the top. At one point, the last time we saw this family, the girl was hanging onto her father. Her father was exhausted and fell and started rolling down the mountain – my Dad (who is always quick on his feet) caught him just in time before there was no hope for getting him.
Although these people were in desperate need to get to the bottom – they couldn’t until they physically got there themselves.
The man who owns the hostel that we are staying at told us that there are 7 known deaths since January 2013 and it only gets worse once the snow starts to fly. He said, “People think that because it isn’t snowing in the city of Fuji that it is safe to climb the mountain. No, usually people end up dead because they slip on ice and we don’t find their bodies until June or July the next year”.
was thinking that once my dad and I reached station 10 and were at the top of the mountain we’d be able to see the crater.
Also a false assumption.
The only thing at the top of the mountain is a restroom (though, you must pay 300 yen (3 USD to use it), gift shops, and soda stand. No access to the crater.
In all honesty, if you’re planning on climbing Fuji now or in the future please take my words of advice:
1) Eat a hearty breakfast before going – food at the station is extremely expensive and doesn’t seem to be tasty. I unfortunately only had a KitKat bar and a cup of coffee before going, and didn’t eat food at the station – bad on me!
2) Bring a backpack full of bottles of water/something to give you electrolytes and hearty snacks (we brought protein bars and an assortment of nuts). Once you begin your journey on the mountain, the stations charge 500-600 yen (5-6 USD) for water and soda.
3) Climb with a supportive partner. Without my Dad with me I would have cried a lot, fallen a lot, and probably died mentally. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have someone look at you and say “It’s okay, you’re doing great – do you need to rest?”
4) Rest often for short periods of time – it’s not a time race. The climb is not only physically hard but it’s also mentally challenging. Resting when you need to for 3-5 minutes helps keep you on track and was essential for me, personally, to make it up the mountain.
5) Once you get down the mountain be sure to regain your balance, drink water, eat a little food. Don’t immediately get back on the bus to your train. The bus driver leaves at exactly the time he says he will and he packs in as many people as he possibly can. Be sure to relax, cool down, and do everything I mentioned before. I fainted on the bus ride back to our train because I didn’t pay attention to what my core was telling me and the bus was packed with people so I couldn’t get enough airflow.
6) Finally – wear sunscreen. I’m usually on top of the whole sunscreen application but not this time. My face looks like the tuna in my sushi. Not cute.
Okay! I am going to bed. We have to leave for our train at 4:30 am tomorrow. We’re flying standby so send good wishes that we all get on the plane tomorrow afternoon!