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Mt Fuji Story

Posted on : 06-05-2010 | By : Nathan | In : Travelogue

3

We were able to reserve a compact rental car in order to make the 2.5 hour drive from Tokyo to Mt Fuji. We started out 1st thing in the morning, maps & GPS in hand, and well provisioned packs on our back. The rental car’s GPS was not working properly, our GPS had old maps, and the 3 maps we had were greatly lacking in detail. However, after some initial navigational issues, we were able to reach the Mt. to start our ascent.

The mountain is officially closed for climbing due to snow, wind, land slides, etc… It does not open for the season until early June. We decided to throw caution to the wind and anyway. We figured “how hard could it be” right ? We were able to make it to station 6 in a decent amount of time, though the trail was quickly becoming scarce. A quick snack and some hydration, and were were off to station 7.

Only a few meters toward 7, things started looking really rough. There were sections where we could not even follow the marked path, as snow and rock slides had everything completely covered. Derek was blazing the path and keeping a good pace, but I was definitely lagging behind a bit. Not sure if it was the lower amount of oxygen in the air, or the fact that I am completely out of shape ;) (maybe both)

We were around 9000 ft of elevation and the snow, running water, and extremely loose igneous rock cover was wreaking havoc on me. I was slipping & sliding as I fought for traction on my way up, and the ridiculous wind gusts were trying their best to toss me off the side. At this point, I realized that the Adidas tennis shoes I was wearing were not likely the best choice for this type of terrain/climb.

As we continued to climb higher and higher, the temperature dropped substantially. While I did have layers for my torso,  I realized that I should have brought some gloves. These would also have come in handy every time I lost my footing and slipped, which caused me to scrape my hands on the sandpaper like rock surface over and over. We just kept pushing through the terrain, higher and higher.

We were only a few meters short of station 7 and the snow was completely covering the pass. Derek went first since he had better boots, and I followed with a few final tentative foot steps. We were excited to get here, refuel, put on more layers, and push on. However, we took 1 look at the path, and it was completely gone. There were 4 feet of snow covering the trail and we had no idea where to go. There was no path,  hardly any visible rock, and no rope …

Derek and I looked at each other and we knew it was over. We had to make the gut-wrenching decision to pull the plug on the climb where we stood (around 10,000 feet) and start the descent. It was simply too dangerous to continue with the lack of proper gear. We needed crampons and gloves at a minimum, period ! I did not come all this way to fail, but we were not going to continue given the current situation.

We headed down, which was actually more dangerous then the ascent since it was so loose and steep. It took us about 1/2 the time to get down then it did to come up. It felt like a “descent of shame” since I have been waiting to do this for years, but it was poor planning on my part that ended things early. If there ever is a next time, rest assured I will have the proper gear to get the job done.

On a high note, I have never actually encountered scenery quite like this. It was absolutely beautiful. The day was clear, the views were expansive, and the experience will stick with me for the rest of my life. Derek busted his a** to make this adventure excursion happen for me, and I really appreciate his help. He was basically a climbing guide for me throughout our hours on the mountain. Even though I did not make it to the top, I saw and experienced things that were new to me and that words cannot do justice. I really enjoyed the entire day, from top to bottom, no pun intended.

View Mt Fuji Gallery

We headed back to Tokyo to return the car (which was an adventure in it’s own right) and had a really good dinner at a Japanese Steak House. I am bushed and heading to bed … Thanks for stopping by and checking things out.

Comments (3)

Okay son . . . am so glad you and Derek are back safe, and sorry you did not get to finish, I am just thankful you got back safe. . . . you are definitely not leaving any stone unturned on this trip. Have fun stay SAFE … love mom

What a tough break. I always wanted to do Kilamanjaro. What say we both try to do each of them next time?!
Wow, I’m in awe. Beats the Grand Canyon all to heck. Glad you two made it back to home base safe.
Give D a big Bouya for me! See you soon.

dad

Nathan

It was a long day, that did not quite end the way I had envisioned. But I will remember it none the less. Derek is like a mountain goat …

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