In a few weeks (October 6th) it will have been exactly four years since Laco and I climbed Mt. Fuji for the first time. We had just moved to Japan less than two months before (August 2006) and just couldn’t bear to wait until the following summer to climb it. These photos and captions are taken from an old blog that I made at the time but never updated.
Laco and I arrive at the 5th Station, elevation 2400 meters, where we will begin our climb. It’s approximately 9.30AM and we have driven past the clouds into a clear and sunny day. We are psyched!! The sign behind us translates (rougly): White people beware, you think you’re strong but Fuji-san will destroy you!
Expression of strength? Drunken air-guitar? Or is it simply the early stages of altitude sickness? This bizarre moment was captured somewhere between the 5th and 6th stations.
Let me see…I think we should go this way.
(Laco practices navigation WITHOUT his handheld GPS. What a stud!)
What do you mean this isn’t the summit?!
(Kelly summits a large rock at the beggining of the climb. Phew, it’s kinda hot for October isn’t it?)
Crap! Where did we park the jeep?
(Just one more step back, one more, almost a perfect shot!)
Laco and our new climbing buddies put rabbit ears on their invisible friends at approximately 2700 meters. I just realized we never exchanged names with these kids who we crossed through the last arch and onto the summit with.
Laco negotiates with Kelly to please haul ass a little, there’s still some climbing to do.
But I’m tired and it’s getting windy…
Seventh Station! Only three more to go!!
There’s more?!!!!!!!!!! THREE more?!!!!!!!!!!!
I forget the Japanese word (or the more appropriate English word) for the temple gates…these are found surrounding temples; they work to keep out the evil spirits. I don’t really think evil spirits have the chutzpah to climb this high but I guess it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Calling in an exorcism team would not only take FOREVER but would also just cost a fortune!!
I did it!! Er…what? This isn’t the top? What’s up with all these rocks posing as the summit? Zenith envy. There’s no other explanation. I feel a little dizzy and I wish whoever that is would stop squeezing my head.
Fine! You’re right, this isn’t the top. Gawwwwd.
(Kelly painfully dissolves a small bit of denial.)
Why are all these pictures of Kelly? Only Laco has enough strength to carry the camera.
(Laco’s shadow and Kelly napping.)
We’re almost there!!!
Kelly looks down at the ground covered. Oy.
It’s much steeper than it looks…
Laco is on cloud 9…
Hey! Grab me some yen for the vending machine!
Yen coins wedged into the posts of the wooden gates. Maybe for good luck…or alms for the needy climbers.
This is it! Check out the snow!
Our Japanese friends waited for us just before the threshold to the peak. We all four walked through the last gate together (too bad we didn’t get a photo of that). This map charts the Fujiyamora trail that we followed up the mountain. There was just a tiny bit of snow. It took us a little less than four hours to climb up. The descent was very painful and increasingly cold.
Laco’s anticlimactic summit: So where’s Mt. Fuji???
Is this where they keep the lava?
Climbers can hike the perimeter of the peak (which is said to take a half hour to one hour depending on how many supplements you imbibe) but the trail was closed and we were too too tired to circle round. We also wanted to get off the mountain before the sun went down.
I’m SO over this…
Seriously, this trail is super steep in most places. At some points we climbed rocks that were more like jagged stairs. As we climbed up and down Japanese men in their sixties and seventies breezed by us on the trail wishing us a happy afternoon and good luck. This is a serious climb! In total, it took us almost eight hours to reach the peak and descend. We were both pretty dehydrated, headachey and exhausted. We said to ourselves: let’s get lost on the way home! And we did! It was a blast.