Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Climbing Mt Fuji

It isn't every day that you get to complete a lifelong dream. Yesterday was one of those days for me. We climbed to the top of Mt Fuji. It was one of the best hikes I have ever done and also one of the most difficult.

It was different from what I expected it to be like. There was a lot less snow for one thing. They say that there is snow on the top all year round, but from what you see in most photos of the mountain, or at least in the photos I've seen, I expected to be walking on snow for most of the way up. In fact, there was very little snow at all, and even then only in the most protected part of the mountain.

People make a big deal of it being very cold on the mountain, but Tracie and I got by with jogging pants, sweat shirts and hoodies. I would have like a toque, but my hat and hood were good enough. Gloves would have been nice, but only for holding onto the guide rope. My hands did get a little cold at the very top, but pockets are more than enough to keep them warm.

I knew Fujisan is a volcano, but I guess I was expecting it to be different from what it was. Maybe more like a regular mountain. The lava rocks were a pain to walk in because it was really loose gravel all the way up.

The crater at the top caught me completely off guard. I expected there to just be a peak or dome at the top. Every photo there is of it, shows a traditional cone shape with a somewhat flat top. I guess I just didn't connect that with a crater.

After doing a search of mountains that I have climbed. Mt. Fuji is at least 2700feet higher than anything else I have ever climbed. In fact, this climb starts higher than a lot of mountains in the Kananaskis.

The whole time going up, I was think about all the times I have seen photos of it and contemplated climbing it myself. It is something that I never thought I would be able to do for several reasons. I never really expected to come to Japan and it seems that I heard once that you weren't allowed to climb it. Having climbed it, I feel very accomplished, and although it was very hard work, I would love to do it again.

There are several routes to the top of Fujisan, and some are a lot easier than others. We took the difficult one that would be impossible for a lot of people. Make sure which one you choose is the best for you. One other thing, give yourself enough time to climb it. It took us 4 hours and 45 minutes. We were going a little faster than a lot of the other people. It wouldn't be unreasonable to do it in closer to 6 hours. We had heard that you could make it down in an hour and a half, but that must have been a different route. It took us 2 hours 15 minutes and we were absolutely cruising. We couldn't have gone much faster and to do it in less than 2 hours would be amazing, not to mention somewhat dangerous.

If you don't give yourself enough time, you'll miss the last bus back to the train station like we did. We ended up calling a cab which cost us 11,000 yen, which is $110. Don't miss the bus!

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