Japan 2017 – Fujisan 富士山

By | 2017-08-22

Alright folks.  It’s time for the prime attraction – Fuji-San.  Standing at 12,380 feet, Fuji-San is a sleeping volcano about an hour south west of Tokyo.  “San” which translates to “Mountain”, is represented by the character 山.  I won’t pretend to know Kanji, so let’s get on with the show.

Here is a photo of sunrise at the summit.  I brought my Nikon D3400 with 1.8 prime lens (my only lens…but I’m proud of it) along with my amateur camera hands, and amateur climbing skills.

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Leading up to this spectacle, was a hike up Takao-San (高尾山) 1965 feet, about an hour east of Shinjuku Station, and 1 week of non-stop walking around Tokyo.  So it’s fair to say we got a good warm-up for the big one.  The only thing that comes close to 12,380 feet, was a car assisted hike up Blue Mountain Peak in Jamaica, 7402 feet, mostly by car, a long time ago, so that doesn’t count. 🙂

Here is a photo of myself packing my gear the night before.  Maxpedition Pygmy Falcon II may not hold much, but somehow I managed to cram rain jacket, thick fleece, spare shirt, spare socks, 2 flashlights, hat, DSLR camera (outside), water resistant long pants, gloves and mitts.  That would explain why I also forgot the most essential thing, WATER.  (Yes…I was very dehydrated on the descent…)

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Temperatures in mid August fluctuate from about 80°F/26°C at noon at the base and 32°F/0°C at night at the summit.  As you may already suspect, carrying several layers is essential.  There is a high probability of rain on the way up, and the wind chill is called that for a reason.  As you can see, there really aren’t many trees to shelter from the wind.  At the higher altitude corners of the zig-zag shaped hiking path, were some serious gusts of wind, defensible only by crouching down and crab walking.

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On the way up along came nightfall and we managed to wander off the hiking path, into some steep loose rocks.  Fortunately we stopped right away and averted a potentially disastrous situation.  Partial blame on the headlamp.  If I were to climb Fuji-San again, I would pack a much more powerful headlamp (500+ lumens) with a wide spread and longer run time, along with a longer throw handheld light as a backup.  My advice to new hikers is to make sure you are actually staying within the chain link path and haven’t accidentally crossed outside, especially at night if no one is in front or behind to light up the way.

We stayed at Goraikokan Lodge for the night, woke at 0400 hours and made our way to the top.  Cold as an icicle (picture the scene in Cool Runnings where they are leaving the airport in Canada), the sun came out before long and it was time to get some shots.

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The geometry of the rocks.

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Some hut sitting right on the edge – must be a nice view. 🙂

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Overlooking one of the lakes – facing East approximately.

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On the way down.  Kinda like planet Mars!

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Here I got one of my favorite shots – where the sky meets earth.

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On the way down, there was lots of rocks, gravel, a never-ending thirst for water, shedding of layers, and by the time we got to the 5th station where the buses run, all one can do is lay flat on ground and find the energy to get up again.  I’ll definitely revisit Fuji, but in better shape, and better prepared.