Ascent of Fuji-san on 1996-07-02

Climber: Greg Slayden

Others in Party:Mark from CA
Date:Tuesday, July 2, 1996
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Bus
    Elevation:12388 ft / 3775 m

Ascent Trip Report

My home base during my trip to Japan was the apartment of a family friend in Tokyo, in the Hatsudai neighborhood just east of Shinjuku. I had done a lot of research beforehand and was able to make an efficient one-day traverse of Fuji-San from Tokyo all by public transportation.

I woke up at 5:45 AM (my friend was still awake working after an all-nighter), had a quick breakfast, and left his apartment at 6:10 AM. I walked south to the Chiyoda Line subway and rode a deserted train to the Nijubashinii stop in central Tokyo, where I exited and did the short walk to the main Tokyo Eki (train station). Here I bought a ticket and boarded the express bullet train (Shinkansen) heading southwest. My JR Railpass was now expired, so I had to buy tickets all day.

The Shinkansen took me through Yokohama and out to Shin-Fuji from 7:10 AM to 8:22 AM. Waiting outside the station was a bus that ran to the Fujinomiya 5th Stage, the main trailhead on the south side of Fuji-San. I was the only passenger on the bus as it made a few stops and then groaned up the steep switchbacked road to the 5th Stage at 2370 meters. The ride was from 8:35 to 10:35 AM, and I felt self-conscious as the only passenger on the bus as the driver dutifully made his run. I wish I could have chatted with him, but my very basic Japanese was only up to the very simple basics.

I started hiking uphill at 10:50 AM and reached the summit at 2:20 PM, a hike of 3.5 hours. The path was steep, rocky, and dusty, but very easy, and the weather was warm, calm, with no rain, but very cloudy. I had no views through the overcast and fog. I had heard about crowds on this mountain, but on a cloudy Tuesday on the second day of the “open” season, I only encountered about 8 parties on the way up, and a few more on the crater rim. Most of the trailside kiosks and stands were closed.

The summit was a non-descript area near a radar dome on the rim of the crater. I also hiked up the very low prominence sub-peak of Hakusandake. I expected there to be an imposing monument at the highest rocks, but it seems that many Japanese consider the entire crater rim “the top” and many don’t even look for the actual high point.

Near the summit I met a 19-year old blond Californian named Mark, and we teamed up for the downhill hike. We hiked down the north side of the mountain to the Kawaguchiko 5th Stage, where I had been a week ago on my failed attempt. We took 2.5 hours to get down, from 2:50 PM to 5:20 PM. The only problem I had was getting some big painful blisters on my toes. We saw no one on our downhill hike, amazingly.

An elderly Japanese gentleman was hanging out at the 5th Stage trailhead, and we were very fortunate that he offered us a ride in his car to the train at Kawaguchiko for 1000 yen each—we were hoping that there would be a taxi or shuttle here to help us, and fortunately we didn’t have to hitchhike or walk.

Mark and I caught the train leaving Kawaguchiko at 6:40 PM and arrived at Otsuki at 7:33 PM, where we transferred to a JR train across the platform that left as soon as we got on. This took us to Shinjuku in the heart of Tokyo, where we arrived at 8:36 PM. Mark and I had been chatting the whole time, and at Shinjuku we bid farewell since he was off to get another train to his place in Yokohama. I don’t recall why he was living in Japan.

I took the subway for a short ride to Hatsudai and was back at my friend’s apartment at 9 PM. I had been gone for just under 15 hours (4:40 to the peak, 6:30 hiking, and 3:40 getting back), thanks to the incredible efficiency and punctuality of the Japanese transit system.

From afar, Fuji is a beautiful pyramid, but the actual summit is a rocky pile on the crater rim, crowned with a radar station (1996-07-02).
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4612 ft / 1405 m
    Total Elevation Loss:4829 ft / 1471 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.6 mi / 12.2 km
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Low Clouds
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4612 ft / 1405 m
    Distance:2.6 mi / 4.1 km
    Start Trailhead:Fujinomiya 5th Stage  7776 ft / 2370 m
    Time:3 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:4829 ft / 1471 m
    Distance:5 mi / 8 km
    End Trailhead:Kawaguchiko 5th Stage  7559 ft / 2303 m
    Time:2 Hours 30 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: 1996 - Fuji-san

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Fuji-san1996-07-02 a4612 ft / 1406 m
2Fuji-san - Hakusandake1996-07-02 b167 ft / 51 m
Total Trip Gain: 4779 ft / 1457 m    Total Trip Loss: 4996 ft / 1523 m

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