Climbing Mt. Fuji

Mt Fuji Peak

Fuji Climb Photos

I’ve told my husband that if there was ever a house fire or natural disaster and I only had a few minutes to grab stuff out of the house and flee, I would take my computer (and hard drives with all of our photos and memories) and our Mount Fuji climbing sticks.  The saying “He who climbs Mt. Fuji once is a a wise man; he who climbs it twice is a fool” definitely rings true for me.  Climbing was an amazing experience (on of my favorite ever!), but the memories of the pain of the steep descent and the stiff hobbling in the week that followed are still burned in my brain and I will most likely not be climbing a second time.

Climb Mt Fuji

Jason and I wanted to do something special for our 4 year anniversary, and climbing Mt. Fuji was the perfect choice!  At the time, we lived in Okinawa, so it was just a 2 hour flight to Tokyo and then a series of bus and train rides to the town that marks the start of the climb.  We went in July, the first month of the “climbing season” where the weather is the most temperate.  We decided to arrive at dusk and climb through the night and get to the summit just before sunrise.

Beginning of Fuji Climb

We were fresh and full of energy as we began the hike, prepared with all of our layers, backpacks, and headlamps.  Our hiking sticks that we had purchased in town were nearly bare of stamps.  as we walked along the wooded trail at the lower part of the trail, a fog descended over the darkening landscape and we heard the eerie sound of a horn blowing in the distance.  It was so peaceful.

It was so exciting to come upon the first hut just as the sky was really beginning to fade to night.  An ancient lady sat by the open fire and carefully applied the metal brand to our staffs, leaving the burned impression.  We stopped at every hut for a brand as we ascended the mountain, save two that we missed, and we made sure to catch those on the way down so there would be no gaps on the staffs.

Mt Fuji Hiking Staffs

At one of the huts, we stopped for a while and had some delicious ramen for dinner, and then we continued climbing.  At this point, we saw very few people on the trail, so climbing up the ridges it felt like it was just the two of us and the silence of the moon and the stars.  Magic.

The hike was definitely more challenging than I expected.  We had to scale boulders and pick our way through some difficult volcanic rock fields.  The staffs got a lot of use!

Mt Fuji Descent

We got most of the way to the top and had a couple of hours to go before dawn, so Jason and I decided to pay to stay in a bunk at one of the huts and get a little sleep.  Two hours later we tumbled down from the cramped bunks and began the final climb.  At this point the altitude was really getting to us, and the going was slow.  A few steps and then a stop for breath.  The breaks became more and more frequent.  As we approached the the top of Mt. Fuji, the trail began to get much more crowded.  We were basically in a slow line to the summit.  When we saw that the sun was coming up and the path above us was shrouded in white mist, Jason and I stopped short of the summit for a photo.  Then, passing through the Tori gates we pressed on to the peak.

Mt Fuji Sunrise

Mt Fuji Tori Gates

Mt Fuji Peak fog

The descent was much less enjoyable than the journey up.  It was incredibly steep and full of endless switchbacks and killer on the knees!  Even though I was in marathon shape, I felt like a weakling watching the old people and school children cheerfully passing us on their way up as I torturously limped my way down.  We descended as fast as we possibly could, hoping to make the 10am bus back to Tokyo and we made it with 5 minutes to spare!

 

Mt Fuji Climbers

A once in a lifetime experience…I will cherish the memories.

 

  • Nikita - Gorgeous photos! Sounds like a dream anniversary.ReplyCancel

  • Connie Reed - Congrats on making it to the top of Mt. Fuji—and back down again. Your photo of the rising sun is especially beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • RunawayBrit - I just found this post – I climbed Fuji in 2002 and loved reliving the memories through your writing. I think I would save my climbing staff too 😀 By the way, I’m the fool that climbed twice – I wouldn’t recommend it!ReplyCancel

    • admin - Haha, love it! Can you believe that this summer there were eruption warnings? Crazy!ReplyCancel

  • Melissa Cowles - Thinking of climbing with my daughter (shes 21) this July. Ive read there are various choices for pathways up and down. Did you climb the “easiest” or one of the more difficult paths? Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Melissa Cowles - Hello! Im thinking of climbing with my 21 yr old daughter this July. Weve read there are different paths to choose from. Did you choose the “easiest path” or a more difficult level? Thanks for the helpful advice!ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - Hello! I’m still searching for information on climbing Mt Fuji. Traveling to and from the mountain, exactly where to buy those walking sticks, how to reserve a hut, and which path is supposed to be the easiest. Even our travel agent is having a hard time finding this type of info. It sounds as if you went to and from Tokyo by bus… How long is the bus ride and should I attempt to purchase these tickets in advance? Do the busses head to other locations besides Tokyo? Thanks for any advice you can offer!ReplyCancel

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