He who climbs Mount Fuji once is a wise man, he who climbs it twice is a fool.
Some old proverb
Having lived in Japan for eight odd months now I have often looked across at Mount Fuji and basked in its grandeur. One thing that all tourist guides say that you should do before leaving Japan is climb Mount Fuji, so despite not exercising since I got here, I felt the time was right to conquer mighty beast.
The assent started off easily, choosing to do an overnight climb, a bus was caught from Kawaguchiko Station at about 21.15 up to the 5th mountain station at 2305m. From here the walk started. My group kept a brisk pace as we travelled along the mountain paths, which were steep and tiring but not exactly hard. We reached the 7th station in no time. It was beginning to get cold now but I was beginning to think that the whole assent would be a piece of cake.
However as I followed the path round behind the 7th station (which is at 2700m, fact fans), I was greeted with quite a sight.
Just rocks, not in a nice stairwell formation either but arranged in a higgledy-piggledy way that made getting over them an exercise in patience and stamina. The process wasn’t helped by the fact it was dark, cold and midnight. Getting over these rocks became my entire existence for a good three hours.
I was so happy when that ordeal was finally over and the track became dirt path again. I became a man possessed and just kept on walking. Though the wind, cold and darkness. I felt like an old Russain woman, heavy legged, stick in hand (did I tell you I bought a stick?), struggling to keep her footing through the frozen hinterlands of Siberia. I wasn’t in Siberia though but the highest mountain in Japan, a fact that only just was beginning to dawn on me.
Hours pass and we make it to the 8th station (3360m) and beyond. The final push was in sight, or a least is would have been if it wasn’t so bloody misty. I would have been happy but we were greeted with more bloody rocks. This final part became a slog and was made only the worse by liars coming back down claiming that we still had twenty minutes to go when we only had three.
So at 5.00 we made it to the top, at this point I would have liked to have said that the view was stunning but there was so much mist we could barely see two feet in front of our noses. Instead of the promised amazing view we had to make do with overpriced coke and udon noodles.
After a two hour rest we decided to begin our descent down the mountain, the walk down itself was fairly simple. However while it was not too bad, it was on a load of slippery, shoe destroying rocks. By the time I reached the bottom, my wonderful Red Avengers were now longer fit to wear.
So to sum up I have to agree with the opening quote, it was an amazing thing to do but never, ever again.