Mount Fuji - August 1985
This was my third time to climb Mount Fuji, Japan's highest mountain at 3,776 meters, and it came at the invitation of John Lush who was hosting a weekend stay at his company's cottage at Lake Yamanaka. Driving up on the Friday evening we arrived at the cottage around 8 p.m., in time for some food and the odd beer or two before driving up to the 5th Station ("Gogome") on the Lake Kawaguchi side of Mount Fuji. The car park at Gogome is at 2,300 meters approximately, leaving some 1,500 meters to climb. On this occasion we started climbing at 11 o'clock with the party stringing out up the mountain as we went. The fittest reached the top in just under 4 hours, whereas I had some difficulty with breathing and motivation near the top due to the thin air, and took 4 1/2 hours to complete the climb. It is a welcome sight when you pass through the Tori Gate at the top and the climb is well worth it when the sun rises just after 4 a.m. However it gets very cold at the top, especially when the wind blows, and an hour there is long enough. Whereas you might expect the top to be a desolate mountain top, it is to the contrary..... it is crowded with people and there are small restaurants and stall selling food and trinkets. On the other side of the crater at the highest point is a small meteorological station which is manned throughout the year. The climbing season for the average climber is short, though, being June/July/August and even during this period there is some danger on the mountain. The biggest threat is being struck by lightening, followed by being hit by falling rocks. Apart from the fact that people occasionally die on the mountain due to exposure, starting the climb during the hot part of the day in light clothing and then getting caught out when the weather suddenly changes.
After an hour at the top we began our descent, which is quite tiring on the legs as to cope with the number of people who climb Mount Fuji the authorities have laid out a special zig-zag trail on the way down which goes on for ever and ever. The terrain is loose volcanic clinker, which kicks up a red dust which gets all over your clothes. As the early morning wears on and the sun beats down you certainly develop a thirst!
John Lush, top left and Mick, bottom right
Fantastic views over the surrounding mountains and laes
Looking across the crater towards the Meterological Station
Looking down into the crater.