To the top and back: Mount Fuji

Yes, we did it!! We climbed mount Fuji!! This was something we had on our wishlist since we moved to Japan and now we can finally say, we stood on top of Japan!


Mount Fuji is with its 3776 meters the highest mountain of Japan! It is also one of the three sacred mountains, two of which we have now summited!


But let’s start at the beginning, at the fifth station at an altitude of 2300 m.


Here you start your ascent. We arrived at 7:30 to start our 7 hour climb to the top! Full of energy and enthusiasm ;)!


As we started our hike, we passed a lot of people on their way back: most climb Fuji during the evening, stay in a mountain hut half-way, and then do the last bit during the night so to arrive at the summit during sunrise. That means that during the night it gets extremely crowded, and sometimes you have to wait in line for hours and miss the precious sunrise! That’s why we decided we would climb Fuji during the day.

There were loooong trails of people returning from the top, an endless line of little silhouets in the distance.

Most of them looked utterly exhausted. Some collapsed on the side of the trail! But we, we were still full of energy :D The weather was beautiful!


The trail to the top is divided into several “stations”, sort of checkpoints you pass along the way. They have supplies, toilets and medical care if necessary. In total there are 9 stations and then the top. The trip from 5th to the 6th was very short and easy, yay!


From the sixth station you can see the entire trail upwards to the top.


Wow, that doesn’t look far does it?? Let’s go!!


From the 6th to the 7th station was really doable, a long winding slope that just never seems to end until after an hour or so you are at the next stop.


We took many breaks to get adjusted to the altitude and avoid altitude sickness. The higher you go, the less oxygen is in the air to supply your muscles and heart with power… Every step you get higher, it gets tougher. It also gets colder. And after you pass the 3000 meter the chances of getting altitude sickness increase massively. Especially when you climb the mountain in one go!!


And really, the next bit to the 8th station was preeetty tough. A lot of sharp rock climbing while at the same time your body is struggling with the drop of oxygen levels, and you start to get tired. I was pretty beat when we reached the station, only to realize we were only half way there haha.


The views were amazing though!!! We climbed higher and higher above the clouds and sometimes you could see the beautiful lakes and cities below.


The surroundings were beginning to look more and more like a lunar landscape. Very otherworldly!


Ok, next stop, 8.5 station, which is another 80-minute hike. With new energy we made our way to the next station and I have to say that this bit was not that difficult. Well, yeah, I was totally exhausted, but compared to the previous bit it was a liiiiiiitttle bit easier, less climbing and more slope-walking ;-) All the while we could see people coming back from the summit on the dusty roads.


But we were still going up!SONY DSCFujiSmall-58

YES station 8.5!!! Just one more bit to the 9th station (mind you, another 80 minutes of climbing) and the top right above it!

SONY DSCFujiSmall-59

But man, that last bit.


That last bit it terror. It’s very steep, like the mountain saved its worst part for last. Not only are you exhausted because you’ve already been climbing for 5+ hours, the lack of oxygen is now really taking its toll.


I brought bottled oxygen for some boosts!!! God did I need it, hahaha. Also, I had Ward to coach me to the top ;-)!


But really, that last bit. I thought you would get some extra final energy because you are near the top? Like you’re excited you’re almost there? Nope. None whatsoever. I was completely exhausted. I could only focus on my feet. And the scary thing was, people were collapsing and vomiting around us, not kidding!! I think some had really bad altitude sickness…


Look at the sign; To Fuji summit: 200 meters!!!!! 200 meters of steep climbing that is. Can you see the desperate look on my face? But then, we fiiiiiiinally reached the 9th station which was a small torii gate infused with coins!

FujiSmall-64 FujiSmall-63

And then….

(hint: 頂上 means “top”  ;-)FujiSmall-57 FujiSmall-65

THE SUMMIT!!! Wow, finally!!!! It took us around 7 hours including breaks to reach it!!! Completely exhausted. But wow, standing on top of Japan!! We’re looking inside Fuji!! XD The crater was amazing.

SONY DSC SONY DSCSONY DSCBeing above the clouds in this landscape makes you feel like you are on another planet.


Wow, right?


We spent about half an hour on this absolutely magical place, when we started our descent. If you go up, you must go down… a looooooong way down. But really, with those views, I was not complaining!!!!


Some of the most enchanting photos we made during our descent. At one point the sun was setting behind mount Fuji, casting a gigantic blue shadow on the clouds…

O wow. it’s really dusty as you walk down, and basically it’s 2 hours of a winding rocky road, but it was just so beautiful. And as the oxygen slowly returned, we felt so happy and elevated about what we had accomplished :D


The last part we passed right through those clouds!



After about 2,5 hours we could see the 5th station, from where we took the bus back to our hotel where we crashed to the floor and didn’t get up until the next morning.


Wow.  This was quite the experience!!! But it was tough, really tough. Near the top I really felt some altitude sickness, breathing hurt and I had a headache. I couldn’t concentrate. And the euphoria of reaching the top I actually felt later, when walking down. Fuji should not be underestimated, this is a really tough climb, but such an otherworldly experience that it’s completely worth it.


You know, there is a famous Japanese saying: Everyone should climb mount Fuji once;  only a fool would climb it twice. I agree.