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#TaleOfTheTrail Mount Fuji (Fujiyama, Japan)

Posted by on 5. September 2016

Summit of Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is a bucket list climb being the highest peak in Japan at 3766 Meters Above Sea Level. Experiencing it was surreal as we had to go on continuous ascent, tackle different technical surfaces and manage the freezing cold climate towards the Summit. The reward was a sunrise view amidst the sea of clouds that was just majestic.

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Mount Fuji

Fuji Bound – Photo by Ram Dalusong

The Mount Fuji climb was part of our Day 3 and 4 itinerary with Trail Adventours. We were able to tour the City after we arrived Tokyo last August 31 and climbed Mount Takao on September 1. Mount Fuji was the highlight of the tour last Septemer 2 and 3. This is my second of the country Mountain Climb after doing Mount Kinabalu last year. I was looking forward to this climb as it’s the highest peak in Japan and it would also be my first time in Japan. I am sure it’s gonna be a bucket list worthy climb for me even if I have yet to make my own bucket list.

Trekking Mount Fuji

We stayed at Sakura Asakusa Hotel in Tokyo, Japan. We had about an 4 hours ride going to Station 5 of Mount Fuji, which is 2,305 Meters Above Sea Level. We spent about an hour in Station 5 for lunch and to slowly acclimatize for the climb. There were thousands of trekkers for the day as July and August are climbing season for Mount Fuji. This is a 2 days climb starting from station 5 at 2,305 Meters Above Sea Level (MASL) with the first day reaching 3,400 MASL and the second day reaching the summit at 3,766 MASL and descend again to station 5.

Day 1 – Route Map and Elevation (2,305 MASL to 3,400 MASL)

Map powered by Suunto Ambit 3 Sports

Starting from Station 5 at 2,305 MASL, the route goes on a short rolling terrain on the first kilometer before through zig zag trails and technical terrains on the next 4.5 kilometers covering about 1,100 meters worth of climbs.

Day 1 Climb

Starting line.

Day 1 was the harder part of the climb with a total ascent of 1,095 meters. It also had the added challenge of carrying our trekking bags, which is around 7-8 kilos. It started with a short descending rolling terrain heading to the trail head. It helped warm up our legs before the much tougher climb ahead. We entered the trail head at around the first kilometer. The climb starts with a moderate ascent on dirt surfaces. We also took off our jackets as our body started to feel warm from the effort.

Time to Regroup

Pinoy Trails Represent

We then made our way to the first hut and had to regroup on the fork near the hut. Coby, our trail guide reminded us to remember the fork when we are descending as the road going downward would lead to the Yoshida Trail and another area in Japan already. I started to pace with the first pack of hikers led by Coby entering continuous Zigzag inclined paths with rocky dirt surfaces.

Zig Zag Path

It’s a foggy day.

The good part of the zigzag path is that we can manage our efforts on the ascent as we could take it several stretches of the path at a time. The weather changes so often. There are parts of the climb that are warm and hot but most of the parts are cold and chilly. There were several huts which were rest area along the route. We also had our stick stamped at the hut as our souvenir. It’s a bit costly though as one stamp would be 300 to 500 yen.

Zig Zag Paths

We were moving faster on this stretch. We plan to slow down when we hit 3,000 MASL as we’d be prone to altitude sickness at that level already. Each hut was a welcome respite as well as another souvenir stamp. At this pace, we were managing our heavy bags and at the same time we are moving forward. I was focusing more on the elevation rather than the distance.

It was sunny at some points

It was good to be with a group with the challenge and the pace of this climb. It really helps push you to the next set of climbs. It also gets extra fun whenever we reach a new hut or station. The Zigzag paths lasted until 2,700 MASL or around 3.2 kilometers from the start.

Technical trails

It’s now time for the technical part of the climb.

After the Zigzag trails, the trails become a bit more technical with several rock formations to navigate. It was time to be a more reactive on the changing terrain as we made our way to the climb. It felt like a chess game where you have to adjust every stride with the granite rock surfaces. We started to slow down a bit because of the tougher trail surface. It was also starting to be cooler at this time.

I’m starting to feel the cold.

Each resting break also meant that your body warmth cools down and you get to feel the chilly climate again. The same goes to the feel of the weight at the back again. I just went on a mindset that this was the harder part of the climb. I’ve been carrying the weight for about 4 kilometers already and after the hut, it would just be my assault pack. More than being ready for the climb, physically, I was ready for it mentally. It helped that I can monitor the elevation by my watch.

2,900 MASL and counting

Ascending Technical Trails.

It’s now a battle of the elevation, the cold and the weight of the hiking bag. It really helped that we were a group so we can pass the time with stories and also to motivate each other. The view gets a lot better as you go up with the sea of clouds surrounding your line of sight. It was also nice seeing the queue going up with the numerous hikers on the trail.

Still on good spirits.

We started slowing down a bit at 3,000 MASL because of the high altitude. We were also looking forward to our new stamp each station. It’s also starting to get costly with every stamp but it would really be a great memorabilia. We took a rest at each hut and then resumed again. We had to limit our stay in each hut as it feels a lot colder when our bodies cool down.

Crossing into the night

Cloudy and Cold.

For the latter part of the climb. It was starting to go dark and it was a nice sight to see as the day crosses into the night. There’s the view of the sunset hidden amidst the sea of clouds. There’s the colder temperature and the chilly wind. The tracks go back to the zigzag path but this time the surface was a lot more challenging. It was loose soil and rocks, which can really drag your pace. We took a rest after several corners.

6,250 MASL

We were approaching our hut with just a few more hundred meters to ascent. It was dark and it made the surface a lot more challenging since it’s harder to adopt to the surface when you can barely see it. We then made our way to the remaining distance to reach our hut at 3,400 MASL. It was time to rest and we’ll chase the early morning sun rise starting at 3am.

Day 2 – Route Map and Elevation (3,400 MASL to 3,766 MASL and back to 3,400 MASL)

Map and Elevation Profile is Powered by Suunto Ambit 3 Sports

Starting at 3,400 MASL, the trail goes on a long zigzag trail to the summit at around 1.3 kilometers. The summit is a wide area, which includes the crater of the volcano. The route goes back through another zigzag trail back to 3,400 MASL.

Day 2 Climb

My stick has now a lot of stamps and memories.

After the first day of the climb, my stick was already full and since I am also low on cash, I planned to reserve the remaining stamp area for the summit. For Day 2, I added another layer of jacket and also another added compression under my hiking pants. It was cold below 7 degrees and it was even colder at the summit at 2-3 degrees.

The Art of Stamping.

Chasing Sunrise

I joined the first group headed by Pau on the way to the Summit. It was freezing cold heading to the summit. The trails were back to the zigzag trails with the loose surfaces that tends to add drag to each stride. It was a slow climb as there were numerous sunrise chasers too. The good thing was that it was not exhausting because of slower ascent caused by the queue. I was excitedly counting down the remaining kilometers heading to the summit.

Sea of clouds in the dark.

Seeing the long queue of hikers and their headlamps was an astonishing sight in the dark. It felt easier now since we are just using our assault packs and I just used a simple hydration bottle for my hydration. It really helps that we climbed heavy on day 1 as it makes you stronger for day 2 of the climb.

The Summit


We arrived at the summit area in less than two hours, which gave us a lot of time before the sunrise. I had my stick stamp for the summit, which was the last stamp for the collection. I enjoyed every minute of admiring the sea of clouds, which felt more like an ocean to me. The effort to see such beauty is really worth every moment at the summit.

Hello Sunrise!

Sunrise view above the clouds was even better. You can appreciate every single second of the sun slowly ascending above the clouds signaling the transition from the dark to the light. It’s humbling to see a beauty as natural as this one.

Touring the Summit

My Proud Summit Moment

The summit was huge and it also had the crater area of the Volcano. There’s also another long trek if you want to see another perspective of the summit but this was the best part of the summit. It was really cold at maybe 2-3 degrees with strong chilly winds that really sinks into your core.

The Crater

Going Down

Going down.

Since it was really cold, we decided to start our descent back to the hut. The surface had loose soil so it was like sliding your way down with a large probability of falling. I cushioned each step with a pole for added balance and I also tried running some stretches as the faster cadence would limit the drag caused by the loose surface. It was a crazy challenge on its own. I just allowed my shoes to slide freely on the surface knowing that my shoes are well protected from debris by my AHON flag gaiters. It was fun just letting gravity to its role on the descent. It took us less than 30 minutes going back to our hut.

Day 2 Descent Route Map and Elevation Profile

Route Map and Elevation Profile is powered by Suunto Ambit 3 Sports

The descent was a straight descent along zigzag trails covering more than a thousand meters worth of descent heading back to the 5th Station. The surface was slippery with loose soil and rocks.

Descending Back to Station 5

The descent was on zigzag trails with slippery loose soil and rocks.

After having our breakfast at our hut, it was time to go down. I went with the first group with Darren as our guide. The descent were on loose soil and rocky grounds. It was a really challenge as every time you would step, you would slide on the surface. It’s a bit harder than the descent from the summit because of the rocks and it would surely hurt if you ever you would fall.

Struggling on the descent.

I struggled on the first few kilometers of the descent taking tiny steps to prevent myself from falling. This is my first in a surface this loose and slippery.  After a few kilometers, I started to be familiar with the trail surface taking advantage of wet surfaces, which were more solid to speed up. I also used two poles for more balance. Once I got comfortable, it felt like a breeze going down. I caught up with Doc James towards the last 3 kilometers of the descent and Doc Koko on the last 1.5 kilometers of the descent.

There were some areas with clearer skies.

There were also rains about two kilometers heading to Station 5 so we had to secure our back packs. What I appreciate on the descent was that it gave us a different view. There were also areas with clearer skies to see some forested parts of the mountains. After meeting up with Doc Koko at the fork, we then went on to finish the remaining distance back to station 5.

Back to Station 5

Let’s call it an adventure

After reaching station 5, we had lunch and waited for the rest of the pack for our bus home. That was another epic adventure. Thanks to Trail Adventours as we were well taken cared of again this time. This is my second international climb with them and I’m looking forward for more.

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