By Yu Nakao
We climbed Mount Fuji but came back wishing we'd planned a bit better – here's 12 mistakes we made that anyone planning to climb should heed and better prepare for:
- We attempted to speed hike
That is to say, to walk up and down in one day. This is doable but as you will realise when you reach 8th base and you are absolutely exhausted with 2 hours left of hiking to do, this is not recommended, and actually downright dangerous. Seriously, don’t be an idiot like us, book a lodge.
- We didn’t research properly how far Fuji was from our starting destination
My friend who lives in Numazu lives almost 2 hours from Fuji’s fifth base. I thought it was 45 minutes. We decided to start driving at a 9am getting to the trailhead at 10am missing all those pesky sunrise and early hiking crowds. However, we didn’t get to the less popular and less busy Fujinomiya trail until 11am and then …
- We didn’t know the trail was closed and had no backup plan
I knew very little about the other trails. I knew the Gotemba trail, the one closest to the Fujinomiya trail, was a grueling 8-9 hour hike compared to the blissful 5 hour hike Fujinomiya affords. I asked the guy at the blocked trailhead his recommendation, which was the Yoshida Trail. Knowing nothing about it, we unwittingly started to make our way to the most popular and therefore painfully busiest trail on the completely opposite side of the mountain while …
- Not knowing how to work a Japanese Sat Nav
We had no idea. The car rental guy plugged it in as we left and when we had to reroute, we had no idea what to do, this lead us to drive about aimlessly and angrily until we happened to stumble upon the Yoshida trail elated. However …
- We started hiking from the 1st base
That’s right we hadn’t stumbled onto the glorious 5th base but the 1st base a 10 hour hike from the top. After half an hour we realised our mistake and got someone to type the destination into our SatNav. All this, however, meant that we ...
- We reached the 5th base too late
By the time we started hiking it was 2:10pm. And the hike was made more difficult by the fact that I...
- I brought too much food
I brought a lot of food. I recently lost about 20lbs, but I was still carrying my 20lbs of lost weight in food, water and layers. I had enough food for 3 days after I descended the mountain. I calculated how many calories I needed to replenish and then …
- We didn’t eat or drink enough
I barely consumed any of it. Most of my calories for the day were consumed on the car on the way up and not actually on the mountain. I should have forced myself to eat and drink more. The cold fools you into dehydrating. I ate and drank the recommended amount for someone my size at rest. I only urinated once, on what was a very long day.
- We didn’t bring a torch
This was a huge mistake because…
- We couldn’t stop ascending
Our new goal, having arrived so late at the mountain was the reach the 8th base instead of the summit topping 9th. Upon reaching the 8th at around 5pm we felt an enormous sense of relief and achievement. While you can descend Fuji, down the path you came, at any point, in order to reach the 8th base from the 7th we scrabbled up some very steep rocks for about 1 1/2 hours. Reluctant to climb down these rocks when the sun could set at any time we decided to climb down the gently sloping, muddy, descending trail, only to find that we had to ascend another HOUR in order to reach the point where it met the ascending trail.
- We descended in the dark
Yes we started the descent at 6pm. The sun was already starting to set. We had another half an hour of light, followed by half an hour of pale sunset before the whole mountain was pitch black. We could not see the edge of the mountain and we were alone. While we weren’t holding hands (eww what are we WOMEN!) we were standing close enough so that we were touching for almost the entirety of the 3 hour descent. And yes no torch meant that we only had the faint light of a dying mobile and an iPod to light the way.
- I shouted at my hiking partner
Through the whole thing, they were like a rock for me and I couldn’t have done any of it without her. Sorry for that!
Overall, climbing Fuji was a mix of exhaustion and elation. The views were breathtaking, the experience like nothing else and while at the time I cried out that it was horrific and I’d never do it again, just like childbirth, I’ve forgotten all that despair already and plan to do it all again next year, whilst learning from my mistakes.
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George is a 20-something hitchhiker, solo female traveller and cunning linguist, currently teaching in Kyushu, Japan. She circumnavigates the globe and teaches languages to all those in her wake. She has travelled Europe and Oz extensively, and has taught languages in 6 different countries and counting. She writes about a mix of language learning, TEFL tips and general travel tales. Follow her journey at http://georgeonthego.org or on www.facebook.com/georgegoingdown or www.twitter.com/georgieonthego