Almost everyone who visits or moves to Japan has Mt Fuji in his or her must see list. It can be just to see it up close or hike up the Mt Fuji.
Those who do not have the strength or simply time to scale the 3,776-meter World Heritage site can take buses from Fujisan Station or Kawaguchiko Station, both in Yamanashi Prefecture, to Fuji Subaru 5th Station. At 2305 meters Fuji Subaru Station is the most popular and most accessible of all 5th stations on Mt Fuji.
My journey to Mt Fuji started about 5 months before the official climbing season. Initially not being hiking nor mountain climbing enthusiast, I reckoned I had to prepare at least. To prepare for my Mt Fuji ascent I conditioned my self by hiking mountains that I can easily access during the weekends if my schedule and budget allowed it. I started from low elevation mountains and was gradually getting higher and higher. My target was to push myself and improve my endurance.
A couple of weeks before the official climbing season ended I went for it. It was not the perfect weather to climb Mt Fuji as the forecast was predicting rain in the area. Nevertheless, I started my ascent from the Fuji Subaru 5th Station. As advised by many, I took my time to get used to the elevation at the 5th station, eating my Mt Fuji ramen and checking my gears. At around 1 pm I started my ascent, along the way some ladies asked if I am going to climb alone and I said ‘yes’ confidently. The ladies cheered me on and reminded me to be careful for which I was thankful.
Along the way I passed countless groups of Japanese climbers decked in their best mountain climbing gears and outfits with their guides. Their pace was slower so I passed most of them between the 5th and 7th stations. The rain started to drizzle just as I passed the 7th station. There were some parts where the rocks got a little slippery because of the rain and I needed to be careful.
By the time I reached the 8th station I could feel the effects of high altitude. Gradually the air was getting thinner and fatigue was setting in, and as a result, my pace got slower. I booked a space at Goraikokan between the 8th and 9th station. Due to exhaustion, insufficient oxygen the uncomfortable dampness due the rain, it felt like the hut was impossible to reach before it gets completely dark. Along the trail I saw people taking rest and breathing in oxygen from portable canisters.
I moved on and finally reached Goraikokan with the welcoming crew assisting me with my pack. I knew I was totally drained when I could not even readjust my hiking stick and the crew had to help me with that. The hut provided the warmth, food and some rest for the remaining journey to the top. The rain and wind settled all through the night which meant there was no chance for Goraiko to have the sunrise view. I little bit later the next day I climbed to the summit.
There was nothing too special at the summit apart from the fact that I have finally scaled Mt Fuji, Japan’s tallest mountain. Because of the clouds at lower altitude the lowland views were limited but I am not complaining because the blanket of clouds was amazing to see and most importantly the feeling of achievement from being able reach the summit. I was on top of Mt Fuji.
Mt Fuji did not only give me a sense of achievement but helped me find my passion for hiking and mountain climbing. In the process of training for my Mt Fuji ascent, when I climbed different mountains the feeling of being able to endure and make it to the top, and, of course, the reward of having fantastic views along the way and at the top are priceless. Even after climbing more challenging mountains after Mt Fuji the excitement never wears out. Every mountain is unique. Climbing is not all about reaching the top but the process is just as important; take it one step at a time.