Mount Fuji is arguably one of the first things that come to mind when you think of Japan. Its towering presence can be seen from miles away, and its beauty is second to none. So if you’re visiting Japan over the summer it’s definitely a must-see and if you’re brave enough, a must-climb.
There is a very short period of time within the year where the general public can climb Mt. Fuji past the fifth station. The Yoshida trail, the most recommended, busiest, and apparently easiest, trail to take, is open from July 1 to September 10.
I climbed the Yoshida trail from the 8-9th of August this year. The views were breathtaking and the sense of pride you feel when you reach the top is overwhelming. I would recommend that anyone coming to Japan takes this opportunity.
With that being said, all that I was told before I completed the climb was pretty much that. That almost anyone could do this trail, and it was beginner friendly. All I can say is that I must have a very different idea of beginner!
Nothing will detract from the pride I felt from reaching the top, or the beauty of the sunrise from the summit. But there were definitely pieces of information which could’ve helped my journey progress a lot smoother.
1. Check Your Weather in Advance People!
Our trip was fairly spontaneous as we found out the dates we would be able to travel just a week or so before. We wanted to see Fuji first on our trip, and I heard it was easy to miss out on mountain hut reservations, so I went ahead and booked as soon as possible. Little did I know we would have no worries finding accommodation, when only a few days later I discovered a typhoon would be heading past during our climb. Safe to say our climb was cold, wet and dangerously windy.
2. However Long You Were Told You Would Need to Climb to Your Resting Spot, Double It.
We started our climb at 5pm after writing some postcards and stopping for a quick snack. I wasn’t too concerned as I was told we had to arrive to our hut at 9pm. And as I had heard anyone could do this climb, I was convinced if we powered through we could make it to our 8th station hut by 8:30, and still have time for dinner. Boy was I wrong. We arrived around 10pm but luckily they had saved dinner for us. Not that it mattered to me.
3. Be Careful What You Bring to Eat.
I was completely starving from our climb, which I tried to give up on multiple times. And yet as my teeth chattered and I tried to warm up from the rain, I found my curry incredibly hard to swallow. Sure enough, 10 minutes later, I was charged 200 yen to revisit my meal in the dingy toilets. This unfortunate incident became a trend for the rest of my journey and even in the early hours of the morning, already battling my lack of fitness, anything I tried to digest or drink would sneak up on me, and I was forced to throw up in front of the masses, battling to make it to the top for sunrise.
4. Make Sure Everything Fits.
Even though we hired all of our gear from an awesome rental company for a great price, and had tried everything on; when it came to climbing day my feet were numb by the time we had even got on our bus. Luckily, they had a shop on the mountain too, so I was able to adjust my boots by half a size. The incline, aside from everything else listed was great. But the descent, who knew it would take me just as long to get down? Only an hour or so in, my toes were already bruising from the descending slopes, not to mention an agonizing ankle which seemed to appear out of the blue too. The whole way down I was continually switching from my hiking boots to my sneakers and back again. A whole lot of pain and no first aid stations in sight. If only I’d bought my own boots.
5. Take Someone Supportive.
Fuji will either make or break you. It has the power to tear couples, friendships, and families apart. (Okay, that might be a bit of an over-reaction). But, a lack of sleep, oxygen, and correctly sized shoes, combined with an overwhelming sense of sickness, hunger and regret; may have you seeing red. But if you take the right person with you, you will emerge like me, an emotional wreck who made it to the top for sunrise, all because throughout the last few points of trauma, they kept encouraging you the whole way.