The last time I hiked up Mt. Fuji was July 23, 2005. It was in that same month and year I also climbed Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier in Washington State. This trip came about over a year ago over a dinner in Sagami, Japan where I announced that we should hike Mt. Fuji. Well, it was my good friend Ryo Saito who was at that dinner that actually made this Mt. Fuji hike happen. Ryo also asked another good friend of mine and who also coordinated the last Mt. Fuji hike in 2005, Yuichiro Kanagawa.
I asked a long-time Seattle friend of mine, Mike Curry to join me on this adventure. We met Ryo and Yuichiro at the Hashimoto Train Station. Ryo drove us to the base of Mt. Fuji, Station 5 to start the Subashiri route. We started at 2:00 p.m. and got into a torrent of rain early in the hike. I think this might have been the colossal of rains during any hike I have ever done.
Date: July 18, 2005
Difficulty: 7 out of 10
Distance: Not sure
Elevation Gain: 5,200′ (from station 5)
Time: 7 to 10 hours
Location: Honshu, Toyko
Users Group: Hikers Only
Permits: No Permits Required for July & August
Hiking with: Yuichuro Kanagawa & Toyama Norikazu
In 2005, I decided to climb Mt. Baker, Mt. Fuji and Mt. Rainier all in July. My friend Yuichuro Kanagawa from Japan was out to Seattle earlier in the year and he too is an avid hiker. So, I kindly asked him if he would take me up Mt. Fuji if I flew to Japan. Mt. Fuji is the most recognizable landmark in Japan and is their most sacred mountain. This is not a difficult climb, in fact over 200,000 people will attempt to climb the mountain and 30% of these people are from Western countries. Most people will try to summit to see the sunrise.
We started off at station 5 around 8:00 p.m. on the Kawaguchiko route. There are 5 routes to the summit and most of the routes will start at station 5. The elevation at station 5 is around 7,000′ for all routes. When referring to stations, these are actually very large huts that can sleep 25 to 250 hikers. We stopped at station 8 (10,500′) for a 5 hour rest; for 7,000 yen ($70) you get about 18” width of floor to sleep on. Everyone sleeps shoulder to shoulder, packed like a can of sardines. Since I just flew from Seattle a day before, the hard floor and cramped spot was welcomed. We reached the summit of 12,388′ around 7:00 a.m.; the clouds and mist was so thick, there was no views to be had…there was no sunrise for us this day. After taking a bunch of pictures of each other, we decided to descend. There are a couple of one-way routes down and we chose the straight-line route that is actually bull-dozed. There is no traversing, just straight down in the 8″ to 12″ thick ash; you had to keep your gators on to keep the mountain ash out of your boots. We were leaning back and running down in a skidding formation, which took us only 2 hours to get back to station 5 where we started yesterday. After we loaded everything back in the cars, we headed for the iron rich thermal waters (hot springs) near Mt. Fuji.