Seeing the Sun Rise First From the 'Land Of Rising Sun'
(Treking Mt Fuji on 20th July 2002)

20-21 Jul 2002 - by Yoonus Ch

He who doesn't climb Mt.Fuji is a fool and he who does it second time is twice fool. I have just come out of this loop and don't have any plans to join back.

Let me start with some statistics of Mt.Fuji or more popularly know in Japan as Fuji San. Fuji stands 3776m above sea level, that is approx. half of Mt.Everest .Fuji is one of the most beautiful and most photographed mountains in the world. The temperature at top will be around 20 deg C in summer (July-Aug) which is the official climbing season. Fuji was an active volcano till 1707,when it last erupted.It destroyed the Tokyo city which is 100Km away from the mountain. It has been dormant since then and attracting many tourists. Every year and average of 6 lakh [60,000] people climb Fuji.

After a perfect plan to start at 1PM from the house we successfully began the trip at 3Pm after having a full stomach lunch. We didn't have any idea on how to reach the place. All searches on Internet had gone in vain since 99% of the documents available was in Japanese. But we was sure we can make it since it very easy to get information from any tourist desk. Again not knowing Japanese will restrict you if you are at some local place rather than a city. But with the little bit of Japanese we know and English they know we managed to find the route even if it was a round about. We had enough time with us. Our plan was to truck in the night and reach the top for sunriset and then start down.

Fuji is divided into 10 stations to help trekkers. There are 5 places from where you can start your trek, namely Kawaguchikoguchi, Yoshidaguchi,Subashiriguchi, Gotembaguchi and Fujinomiyaguchi. Except for Yoshidaguchi there are buses from base which will take you till the 5th Station. Kawaguchikoguchi is the most trekked route and will be bit crowded during the weekends of July and August.

We took the train to Shinjiku where buses run to Kawaguchikoguchi 5th station. We reached Shinjiku at around 5:00PM ,only to find that all the buses till 7:50 are full. Booked our tickets for this bus. So what to do for rest 3 hrs?? Answer was so simple, go to some Indian restaurant near by and have some good Indian dishes. We went to 'Maharaja' and had our evening snacks. The bus started at 8:00PM and there were another group from India too in the bus comprising of 10 people. The weather was perfect for a trek and moon was 90% full to guide us to the top during night I was watching the sky and small hills running away from me as bus took speed. We reached Kawaguchikoguchi 5th Station at 10:10PM.There are a few shops over there open 24 hrs and you get all necessary items for climbing. but its recommended that you take this from your local town since things are bit costly here. But then there are some items which u will only get here .Each one of us bought a stick, which will help you throughout out the journey especially while descending. Hand gloves, torch cells etc also we bought from here since we had missed to carry these.

At 10:30 we started the ascend. Initial path till 6th stage consist of gravel which was deposited by the volcano. It was fully dark and we had to depend on the torch to make the progress till 6thStage.From stage 6 to 8 it all rocky and steep. At certain places its almost 75-80 degree steep and few places queues were formed by the slow pace. You can find so many huts on this way which will serve food, water and all necessary items, but comes with a heavy price tag. Sometime around 2:00AM we settled down for the dinner. We had chappati and subgi.It just tasted like honey even if chappati had turned like pappad. The cold wind also had started blowing and everyone had put up the jackets and sweaters. After taking enough rest we headed for the 8th stage. It was all rock and steep climbs again. Took rest whenever required to recharge ourselves. Everyone was getting tired and the maps showed we haven't covered even half the distance. we could only see rocks in front of us. Finally at around 3:00AM we made it to the 8th Stage. From here the path is bit normal and has more rest places. The sunrise was at 4:30AM and from a local shop we came to know the happy news that we were facing East and hence will be seeing the sunrise even if we could not make it to the summit by sunrise. Now we don't have to rush and we slowed down the pace. By 4:00AM we reached the 9th Stage and we could see the beautiful orange/pink horizon.. the sun was about to come out. We found suitable places to settle down and see the most beautiful thing you can view on Mt.Fuji. The wind was blowing at high speed and just trying to carry away everything on the way. We could see the color of sky changing slowly with various combination-red, yellow, orange, blue etc. .that's magnificent combinations. The entire valley between horizon and us was covered by clouds and we were all above that. we can see the clouds floating around. We kept our eyes open to see the first rays of sun.. Oh.. what we are seeing, the sun is not raising from the horizon but from somewhere from the clouds in between horizon and us. That's really amazing view, ,sun just standing out there. That was the first time I am seeing the sunrise from the 'Land of Rising Sun' and seeing it after a long long time too.

Had few photo sessions in between and we continued our ascend. By 7:30 we reached the summit .Its been 9hrs since we started . Here we are at top of Japan. That was a great feeling after a long 9hr effort. Everyone was tired and we went to a near by hut to take some rest. We took our breakfast too. We had few bun and we were feeling like somebody has put butter too in it. That was a very tasty breakfast we had. From the top you can see the cities of Tokyo and Yokohama but not that clear. On the top you can see the big ditches formed by the volcano. We roamed around for some time on the top and took enough rest.

At 11:15PM we started our descend. compared to what we have experienced while going up, descend was easy. The entire path is covered by gravel and you have to skid down ,but be very careful since if you are going to fall down that's going to take you free till the next turn .the climbing stick becomes very helpful during this journey. At some places i was running all the way down thru the gravel skidding fast ,just enjoying the descend and balancing with the stick. That was very interesting,, just enjoying myself. but later i came to know doing like that is very dangerous. We took few rest and could see Fuji getting farther and farther from us. At 2:30 we reached the Subashriguchi 5th Stage. Got a bus at 3:00PM.By the time we reached home the body had started to protest with pain every where. Not able to walk or sit.

Over all it was a great trip. Being on the Top of Japan. The most admired thing from top will be seeing the Sunrise. You have to be at least at 8th or 9th Stage or summit to get a clear view if you are climbing from Kawaguchikoguchi 5th station.

Related Information : http://www.climber.org/TripReports/1999/447.html


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