Japan Trip: Days 2 & 3 – The Horror of Mt. Fuji

Previously I mentioned the view of Fuji from our room window.

This was how it looked in the morning. We would be climbing the mountain overnight.

We walked around Lake Kawaguchiko, one of the lakes in the Fuji Five Lakes region. It was too large to be covered by foot so we probably walked less than halfway around, covering the typical attractions/spots mentioned in the map we found at the train station. By the afternoon Mt. Fuji was totally engulfed by clouds.

Back to the hostel for packing we checked the weather forecast. Possibly due to typhoon Ma-on, there would be light rain that night, and the weather would be getting wetter the rest of the week. We could only stay for three nights so it made more sense to get the climb done as soon as possible.

Took a train to Fuji-san station where we bought return bus tickets to the Kawaguchiko 5th station on the mountain – the highest accessible point by road. The plan was to start from there, take the Yoshida trail, climb overnight without staying over in the rest huts and catch the sunrise at the summit.

When we reached the 5th station it was already dark and drizzling. We went on and had no idea where to start as there were far fewer climbers than we thought. We did find the trail head eventually.

Managed to get a view through the clouds. We got to the 6th station thinking this was going to be a walk in the park, but we would later find out how wrong we were.

It got very windy, and the rain continued. At several points in the trail we had to climb slippery, steep rocky surfaces instead of the loose volcanic soil we were told to expect. Already the soles on my trekking shoes fell off. I had been wearing them for my weekend morning treks without problem so it was an unpleasant surprise.

The cheap flashlight I was carrying with me also decided to die on the way up. Visibility was probably less than 3 metres, and we scraped our way to the 7th station where we paid exorbitant money for some food and water which allowed us to seek refuge from the weather for a few minutes. For safety’s sake I also paid a ton of money for a new flashlight to carry.

We were ahead of schedule, but we decided to press on. We got to the 8th station where the rain and wind were pounding. At 3400 out of 3776 metres and 6 degrees Celsius, we could not go further up the trail because the winds beyond the rest hut were strong enough to blow us off the mountain. Cold, wet and tired we had no other choice but to fork out more money and rest overnight.

We had a good sleep in the safety of the hut, but by daylight the rain was even heavier. Our clothes were still wet but we couldn’t afford staying on so we decided to retreat downwards and get ourselves off the mountain.

On the downhill trail we were simply being pushed by the wind. The gusts were strong enough to make you lose your balance. We alternated between walking into the wind and trying to stay on our feet while it blew from behind us. Another layer of sole came off my shoe so I had to pray the remains of it could hold together on the estimated 2-hour walk down. We tried to haul ass and never knew how long our walk downhill actually took.

We made it back to the 5th station in one piece and returned to our hostel where we scrapped plans for the rest of the day and slept in.

The town was cold and raining and we never got a clear view of the mountain. At least we were safe in the comfort of the hostel room now.

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