July 15, 2009
It was sooo freaking hard.
Background: people can only climb Mt Fuji all through July and August. And a lot of people usually climb at night so that they get to the top just in time for the sunrise. Now normally, the climb takes around 5-6 hours. 8 — if you’re pacing yourself (altitude sickness, you know).
Everything was against us. Since it wasn’t peak season yet, the last bus from Fujinomiya Station to Fujinomiya Fifth Station (Fujinomiya Gogoume) was at 2 in the afternoon. We got to Fujinomiya Station at way past 7. So since there were 7 of us, we decided to take the taxi to the fifth station. We had to divide ourselves into 2 groups. One cab cost us ¥9,000 something. The bus ride to the fifth station would normally cost around ¥2,000 yen. So ¥18,000 divided by 7 wasn’t really all that bad.
The cab driver of the cab I was in was pretty chatty. He was asking us stuff about being exchange students and told us tips about the mountain. He even stopped at a store to wait for us buy some flashlights because only Mika brought one.
We started the climb at 9. It wasn’t a really easy climb. I had a hard time catching my breath (I tire easy). But I trudged on. I wasn’t exactly lagging behind. I was just scared cause I heard about a guy dying the day before. And although the taxi driver told me that it rarely happens, I was still worried.
I was clutching on to Dustin as we went up because he seemed to be a pro at it. He could’ve went on ahead with Matt and Jess (who were climbing pretty fast), but he made sure that I was alright.
All the way to the old 7th station, I almost fell off the mountain because the wind was so strong. By then, we were above and among clouds. When we reached the 7th station, we all huddled together — all 7 of us. We were cold and tired. And by cold, I really mean cold. Dustin and Matt are from Alaska and they were huddling with us as well! I think the cold might not have been that bad had there not been such a strong wind.
At that point, I told them that I’m okay with not reaching the top and that I was okay with staying at the 7th station even though it might cost me around ¥7,000 a night. I was really scared and tired and cold. Saying these now, you might think that I might be exaggerating. Heck, even I can’t make myself believe what happened. I mean, if I didn’t experience what I did, and then I read what I just wrote, I wouldn’t believe a word of it.
But then Mika won’t let me quit, she went, “Tiff, just one more station!”
So we trudged on. My gloves were soaking because of the fog and mist and clouds (I can’t differentiate among the three, so shoot me — I think all three were present). We were among the clouds. My hair was whipping around my face. And my face was being sand blasted. Lol. It stung because the wind was really really strong. Plus, when I closed my mouth, I could feel the sand grind. Phweh.
And I was thinking of all the things I plan to do if I survived it (yes, SURVIVED). Like how I’m going to tell my parents I love them (I love you MOM! And sis too!) and how I’m going to start studying really hard.
When we reached the 8th level, I was a mess. Matt and Jess were already there. Matt took one look at me and said, “Tiff! You look like a mess” (I forgot what he said exactly). But then he led me to the bathroom (where you had to pay ¥200 to use it and you’re not allowed to stay and use it as shelter). Soon, everyone caught up and everyone was wet and shivering.
So then we all decided to stay at the lodge at the 8th level for ¥5,000 per person (free use of the bathroom!). The lodge didn’t even have heating but then at least we would be out of the wind. It was howling. The lodge had extra clothes so they lent us dry clothes.
As I was trying to sleep, I was shivering when I asked Dustin, “Is it this cold in Alaska?” He told me, “Sometimes. But then people aren’t usually out in this weather.”
And we could’ve woken up at 4:30 to watch the sunrise but I don’t think anyone thought it that important to see the sunrise. By then, I really didn’t mind — I’d rather rest. But then we had to leave the lodge by 7am. And then we trudged on. It was a really cold morning. Cold because we were up a mountain.
Before I reached the 9th level, I saw snow! For the first time in my life!
So yeah. I reached the top. The pictures of Mt Fuji are mostly from the 9th level. And then there’s a picture of me by the caldera (did I get it right?) filled with snow :>
End melodrama :3 All true story. None exaggerated.
More pictures at http://e1c33.multiply.com/