It has been a long time since I posted anything about a trip here, but now it's time I do so. Last weekend, the 22nd and 23rd of August, I along with six friends climbed Mt. Fuji.
We set off on Saturday, leaving Tokyo at 12:40 by bus from Shinjuku, and we arrived at the fifth station of the Kawaguchiko trail (at an altitude of 2305 meters) around 17:00. After spending some time getting used to the thinner air, we started climbing around 18:00. Our schedule had us on the summit some time around 2:00 in the morning, but that was hopelessly optimistic. The climb was very exhausting, and I'm not exactly in the best shape, so it took us somewhat longer. The large number of people caused the occasional "traffic jam" which also caused a lot of delay. It's really unbelievable how crowded that mountain is. It's worse than Shinjuku station.
Our goal was of course to reach the summit before sunrise at 5:00 in the morning, but unfortunately we fell short of that goal by about 300 meters (distance, not altitude). Probably a good thing, in retrospect, since it appeared to be much more cloudy on the actual summit so we probably got a better view from where we were. After sunrise, we continued to the summit. Unfortunately, because many people had paused to watch the sunrise, an enormous queue had formed leading up, so eventually we were at the summit around 6:30. Once there, we took some rest, ate some food (despite the high prices I did buy some noodles, just to have something hot to eat, as it was very cold on the summit). Although thoroughly exhausted, we were all glad we made it.
Here's where things started to go wrong, though. For one thing, we hadn't all made it to the summit at the same time, so we were already separated. I was with only two others when we started our descent, and unfortunately we took the wrong trail back down (the trail down was not supposed to be the same one we took up, but we still took the wrong one). Despite the fact that there's signs every twenty meters or so, none of us noticed it was the wrong trail until we were all the way at the bottom. While we did arrive at a fifth station, it was the wrong fifth station. Of course, the others who went down separately did take the right trail so we couldn't meet with them. And because everybody managed to have dead cell phone batteries at the same time, we couldn't even contact each other to try and sort things out. So we could only go back to Tokyo on our own and hope the others did the same (which of course they did). It all worked out in the end, but it was a pretty stupid feeling when we realised we were at the wrong location after climbing all that way down.
But no matter how grueling the journey (especially the wind and the dust on the way down were very bad), and no matter the mistake with the descent, I'm still glad we did it, and I'm very happy I made it, of course. In fact, I still have trouble believing it. It's the longest single climb I've ever done, and the highest I've ever been (3776 meters at the summit, prior to this the highest I'd been was 3400m in the Sierra Nevada in Spain). The beautiful sunrise (the pictures don't do it justice, really), and the sheer satisfaction of reaching the goal, make it worth it.
Enjoy the pictures!