…and a wiseman climbs it but the once.’
Finding myself to be not nearly foolish enough I decided to climb the mountain again. I did it the way that is hugely popular with sunrise seekers, start off in the evening, climb through the night and arrive on top in time for sunrise. I am not climbing that way again, expecially not if I’m responsible for a group again. People get too tired, mistakes are made…and four people including myself end up in entirely the wrong prefecture!
I am planning two more climbs (though I am less certain about taking my parents up than formerly) this year and a third next June or this September. My final climb of Fuji will be a sunrise climb but I shall climb in the late afternoon and early evening and arrive at the top with my tent on my back (hence part of the reason for an out of season climb) around eleven or twelve at night, pitch my tent and sleep until sunrise which I shall calmly view, take down my tent and leave the mountain, possibly by way of the Fujinomia route which I haven’t tried yet.
Skimble’s party climb will be interesting, yesterday I visited the Fuji Sengen Shrine to ask for good luck and blessings in the climb (there is a tiny shrine to Daikoku and Ebisu which I felt to be appropriate and I bought a mini icon of Daikoku)…hence the fantastic weather? It was a beautifully clear night though the sunrise was a little masked with clouds. Anyway, they were selling walking sticks which you traditionally have branded at every station (usually they sell them from the fifth station prebranded with the first four), I have decided that I will take two and a half days to complete the climb, which sounds pathetic if you consider that the distance is only seventeen kilometres, but less so when you think that Fuji rises three thousand three hundred and seventy six metres, which someone told me was about a mile. I will climb from the shrine to the second station on the half day, which puts me at 2000m and then the second to the sixth on the first full day, putting me at 3090m. Then I’ll meet Skimble and the others on the second full day and make it there and back again (to 3776m)….all this assumes that Skimble still wants to climb on the Sunday of that three day weekend.
This climb went off pretty well, the descent was a nightmare. I had forgotten how hellish the initial part of the climb from fifth to sixth was, and then how much I liked the rockwork up to the first part of the eighth. In addition to the people expected a random pair of Americans turned up at the train station and asked if we knew how to get up to Fuji fifth station, they had no torches, little in the way of snack food and no extra layers though they did have gloves, which I had left in my flat! So we took them along for the ride! It was all pretty good, the ex-cheerleader suffered from lack of oxygen, which actually affected me more than I remember it doing last time though I didn’t look nearly as bad as she did. As with many things about her, what got her to the top was sheer bloodymindedness. One of the extra Americans suffered very very badly from the altitude and so needed badly to descend almost as soon as the sun had risen. And the Ozzie guy from Gunma was exhausted by the time we got to the top and badly needed to sleep.
We descended through shale and scree, (hell Hell HELL!) to the eighth level where altitude was really sinking it’s teeth into the extra American and exhaustion was killing the Ozzie. We got a bed for the Ozzie and the rest of us wanted rest, now I realise with hindsight that I should have gone down with the extra American but I wanted sleep so much (note to self – do not do karaoke before a Fuji climb) and so klet him dash off by himself whilst the rest of us slept. The Yorkshireman was on a timetable to get back to Honshu so he and the fitter people who hadn-t gone to karaoke on the Friday night (idiot idiot idiot!) set off as well.
Now the problem that I had forgotten with the Kawaguchi descending route is that it mimics the Subashiriguchi ascending route for about half a kilometre and then the trail splits, one half going to Yamanashi (where I live) and the other going to Shizuoka (the other side of the mountain). The extra American went to Shizuoka as did I and the Ozzie and his boyfriend when we later woke. Great team leader I make huh? Not as bad as the guy I met in Shizuoka who with his friend had yesterday decided to go on a day hike from third to fifth and then said the imortal words to his friend ‘Lets pop up to the top for a bit’ no change of clothes let alone layers to deal with the drop from 18 degrees to 3! And no torches for when it got dark! He watched the sunrise from the summit whilst his friend slept in the 8th station where they later met up and made the same mistake as we did in ending up in Shizuoka!
Still everyone seemed to have a great time and I did the Subashiriguchi route which ends in walking through a lovely woodland and coming out at this little Japanese cafe which serves wonderful icecream!
I am completely knackered of course.