This past weekend Jerry & I managed to sneak in a get-a-way to Mt. Fuji. The original plan had been set for last summer as a 30th anniversary adventure, but alas, a broken foot put the plan on hold.
Jerry has climbed Mt. Fuji twice before and thoroughly enjoys it. I haven't wanted to make the climb but since I have developed a love of hiking, his musings of the experience started to perk my interest. Our original plan was to start at the very bottom and hike up to the 5th station, the point where most climbers start. At that point we would decide if we were going to continue to the top or not. The new plan changed to starting at 5th station.
We headed out early and drove to Mt. Fuji, about 5 hours. We then needed to acclimate to the altitude for about 2 hours before stating the climb. This is needed to help prevent altitude sickness. We meandered around the station, err... Tourist trap.
No, I did not climb in flip flops! I just didn't want to put my boots on before I had to.
The start was very foggy.
The early part of the climb was pleasant as the weather cleared.
Then things started getting more difficult. Jerry had forgotten just how steep and rocky the climb was. No one else had warned me either. I was tired by this point, having already driven 5 hours, and my fear of heights and falling had me near panic. I had no idea that some points would be almost like free rock climbing ( those who actually free climb will laugh at this, but to me that is how it felt).
We finally made it to the mountain hut just one stop below the 8th station. It was already dusk. We had been climbing for a good 5 hours. We stopped for the night, paying about twice what we had budgeted, but we at least had a sleeping bag to call home. If we had continued this is what we would have faced.
Originally, we had planned to get up in the middle of the night to finish the climb in order to see the sunrise from the top. That didn't happen. I simply could not face the mountain in the dark. So we stayed at the hut and caught the sunrise from there - breath taking!
After sunrise we continued onwards and upwards.
Looking back from 8th station we could see the hut we had stayed in ( the tiny blip, lower right by the cloud line) with the 8th station hut being on the left. At 8th station I saw something else... The access road that lead over to the descending trail! Hallelujah!!! While Jerry check to make sure that it was a way to get down, I talked with another climber. She said something I'll not forget, "My friends told me this was just a hike. I'm not sure WHERE they hike, but this is not a hike in my book!"
So... At 8th station we turned back. It was a good decision. I distinctly remember a few comments about steep spots near the top... Ummm... Dear just what have we done if these are not steep?!? I also remember some conversations while planning this trip..."there are a few rocky places near the top that you need to climb up." Ummm... Dear if what we have been climbing are not the rocky spots what are they?
Fuji is beautiful. We made it down in one piece. We are still happily married with no divorce papers being filed! Am I going to climb again?
There is a saying that "Everyone should climb Fuji once, but only a fool climbs it twice."
I am not a fool!