Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mount Fuji

Climbing Mount Fuji is definitely one of the highlights of my trip. Mount Fuji is Japan's highest mountain with 3,776 meters (12,388 feet) and was recently added to UNESCO's World Heritage list of places of outstanding universal value. The nearly perfectly shaped volcano has been worshiped as a sacred mountain throughout Japan's history and is not only very popular in Japan, but also all over the world. The official climbing season is just for two months in the summer (July and August), because of severe cold weather and snow during the rest of the year. Approximately 300,000 people climb Mount Fuji every year (therefore it can get very busy) and most of them climb at night to be at the summit when the sun rises. The morning light is called goraikĊ, "arrival of light".

I stayed one night at the foot of the mountain in Fujiyoshida, and in the evening I walked around to find a place for dinner. I got into this Japanese restaurant with no English menu and nobody speaking a word in English. Nonetheless, I had a fantastic dinner and a good time with the chef and owner of the restaurant.

The morning before the climb. Mount Fuji is divided into ten stations with the first station at the foot of the mountain and the tenth station being the summit. Paved roads go halfway up the mountain and most people go by bus to the fifth station (2300 meters / 7500 feet) to start the ascent. I did this as well.

At the Kawaguchiko fifth station getting ready for the climb. The station lies at approximately the halfway point of the Yoshida trail (one of several trails to the summit and the most popular one), and provides a few restaurants and shops to stock up on supplies.

It is "just" 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) to the summit, but I have to gain almost 1500 meters (5000 feet) in elevation.

Meeting many other climbers along the way. This is part of the experience of climbing Mount Fuji.

Arriving at the mountain hut "Goraikoukan" at the 8.5th station. There are several mountain huts on the way to the summit providing the opportunity to stay overnight. This makes it easier to see the sunrise, which is at around 4:30am in the morning. We had to get up at 1:30am to make it on time to the top, but I didn't really sleep anyway. The sleeping rooms are packed with people and it is hard to fall asleep.

I met at the mountain hut a great group of people, and we stayed together for the rest of the time climbing the mountain. Harris from Taiwan, Mike from Canada, and Jeff (in the background) and Mike from the US. We are all travelling by ourselves, and it was very inspiring to listen to each one's individual life story. Thanks guys!

Silicon Valley meets Mount Fuji. Google is there as well improving Google Maps (Street View).

The shadow of Mount Fuji during the sunset. It is in general a spectacular view at this altitude.

Climbing at night and reaching finally the gate to the summit.

We were quite early and got therefore prime spots to watch the sunrise. On the photo you can't see, but it was freezing cold and we were shivering. However, we will get soon the reward for all the efforts.

I leave the photos of the sunrise uncommented. It is incredible, and pictures can't really convey the feeling of seeing the sunrise from the summit of Mount Fuji.

We also walked around the crater before starting the descent. Mount Fuji is an active volcano that last erupted in 1707. Earthquakes can have a major impact on a volcano's activity and its potential of eruption. Therefore, there is given much attention to Mount Fuji's reaction to Japan's earthquake in 2011. Mathematical models suggest that the pressure in its magma chamber could be now higher than it was in 1707, and that the probability of an eruption within the next few years is quite high. 

2 comments:

  1. Those views are breathtaking!

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  2. The pictures are amazing. You seem to be having a great time Jan!

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