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Ascent of Fuji-san on 2013-07-27

Climber: Jason Vogler

Date:Saturday, July 27, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Fuji-san
    Location:Japan
    Elevation:3775 m / 12388 ft

Ascent Trip Report

The most climbed mountain in the world is not something that I will dispute considering what I saw on this trip. I would call Fuji the Disneyland of hiking adventures because if there is an amenity that can be sold on this mountain it is! Thousands of people...Gift shops at the top, a post office at the top, mountain huts, it was crazy. That does not mean it was an easy hike as this was over 5000 feet of elevation gain to the 12388 feet but it was just amusing to see the commercial aspect at the top.

I had to get up at 3 AM to get ready to be on the bus by 3:25. I was taking a tourist bus that was a round trip bus for 20000 yen that goes up for the sunrise. I of course was staying for the hike but this was the earliest bus I could get to the top and it picked me up at the hotel. AWESOME! The bus ride took about an hour to get to 5th station.

I got started at 5 AM missing the newly instituted "FEE" to hike the mountain as the booth did not open until 7. The station 5 starting point at the Yoshida trail head is the most popular starting point and the most heavily traveled. I used the restroom to get situated and to purge myself prior to the work ahead. By the way make sure you get rid of any trash before you get there as they do not believe in garbage cans in this country as I spent 10 minutes trying to get rid of my water bottles(thanks to whomever picked those up where I stashed them before I left).

The trail actually started downward for the first 1 K until you hit the real trail upwards. They never make this mistake again I can assure you. The first couple of kilometers are pretty easy really but once you come out of the tree line you begin the upwards trek. I hit the sunrise and my first boat load of people at station 6. What a beautiful view!

Trudged up to the first mountain huts at station 7 and began getting the emblems burned into my hiking stick. What a racket that is but it is so damn unique I could not resist. I was trying to imagine them allowing people to do that on Mt Whitney! Anyway about 2 bucks for each mark and there were many up the mountain that I just skipped as I was running out of room on my stick or they wanted me to wait...I don't wait to pay someone 2 bucks to burn an emblem into a stick.

Because most people hike up the day before and stay overnight to summit for the sunrise the next day I missed the majority of the crowds. I hit a few large groups of 20 or more on my way up but that was nothing to the groups of 200 or more I ran into at the end of the hike as I was coming down. Part of the allure of this hike is the cultural aspects of the mountain huts and all the bells and whistles so hiking with a large group I could see being very fun. However I was time sensitive and had only the one day to do this plus I am a little of a loner so the less people the better.

At about 8th station the altitude began hitting me and I was starving so I pounded down a banana and a pastry I had bought in the convenient store. It hit the spot but they have a sports drink over there called bacari Sweat that I had purchased and I drank half of that and boy that did not sit well the rest of the day. I was fine but every once in awhile I had to burp and that was my bodies gift tasting that drink all day.

The food gave me the energy to get to the top but I really struggled above 11,000 feet. I had done no altitude training at all and my heart was pounding for every 100 feet of elevation gain I had to take a break. I even feel asleep for at least 10 minutes on one occasion. I took lots of pictures but most were of the signs of how far we had left to go.

At the tenth station or what most consider the summit is a small city of gift shops, shrines and mountain huts. They even had beer and man if my stomach had not been upset I would have been downing that Kirin! I pretty much got my "you reached the summit stamp" and left the little city. I wanted to get to the real summit which was exactly opposite to where I was. So being totally exhausted with and upset stomach I forced myself around to the old radar station. Along the way I found the post office in which I mailed the 4 post cards I had ready.

The last summit drive on the crater was brutal. I thought I was going to vomit when I got there but my elation was the best stomach suppressant I could have brought. I took my picture and finished the circumnavigation of the crater. I had to go through the tourist trap city again but it was still the same garbage. I then headed down the exodus trail.

It was a lot quicker going down and after about an hour I was feeling much better as the altitude issues I was having seemed to diminish as I got below the 7th station. Then it was just sore tired legs and feet. I had to take some long breaks because the new crowds were coming up and the trail at some points was not wide enough for but just 1 person. There was at least 2 thousand people heading up that I passed between 6th station and 5th station. I had never seen anything like it.

The hole thing took me 8 1/2 hours as I got to fifth station at 1:30 and had to wait about 30 minutes for a the local bus back to Lake Kawaguchi bus station. The hotel I was staying at was about 1K from the bus station and I was stiff from the 1 hour bus ride so I decided to walk. It was time for a shower and On-sen at the ryokan that we were staying at and I was not about to wait for a commuter bus. Nothing like hot Japanese bath to sooth the aches and pains of an accomplished life goal away.
Summary Total Data
    Distance:17.1 km / 10.6 mi
    Route:Yoshida Trail
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Low Clouds
Climbed above the clouds all day no views excpet early sunrise



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