So after work I took advantage of the forecasted clear weather on Mt. Fuji and made my Tuesday night ((August 5th)) into a mountainous adventure. There was an initial panic the day before when I realized that both my friend and I misread the bus schedule and I couldn't take the bus straight from Shizuoka station, but I managed to figure out a route through Fujinomiya that I could still make after work and still be free to get a return bus home the next morning at anytime. So I arrived at Fujinomiya 5th station around 8:30 (to jog your memory: there are 10 stations, and sane people start climbing from 5). I waited about an hour to get acclimated to the oxygen drop (writing postcards, eating food) and we were off! The mission? Get to the top before sunrise at 4:52, and considering it took us about 9 hours last time, I thought I was pushing it.
A note; when I say 'we,' I mean me. I decided this time that I would climb by myself. And I assure you that although lots of big groups climb Fuji, climbing alone is not overly abnormal. Nor was I ever truly alone, as Fuji is a busy place. And you know, I think I was better for it. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
So the climb to 6 is barely worth mentioning because 5 and 6 are practically on top of each other so no problem. I even stayed on the path this time. It was the path up to New 7th that was terrible (annd I strayed from the path a bit, even though I was following someone). It was supposed to take a half hour, and it took me an hour. It was also a lot more windy right off the bat than last time. Needless to say, I was pretty discouraged. How did I do this last time? I'm alone; there's no way I can do this...what am I doing here?
But I wasn't going to give up or anything stupid like that; I still had cell service at the time, and after some encouragement from my friends I was (reluctantly) off! I was ready for the worst; 7th was 50 minutes away, and it had taken me double the expected time to get to New 7th in the first place. So I started my climb...
And it only took about an hour. I was shocked. For some reason, after that the climb started being a lot easier than last time. I know I'm not in better shape, so I think it's because I was alone. Being alone, I could set my own pace, so I only really stopped between stations once or twice the whole time (whereas last time, we stopped about a zillion times). The only real delay was stopping to let other groups pass me so I wouldn't feel chased. (also stopping to pee; but at least I wasn't dehydrated this time?) It was cold with the wind, but I brought enough layers that it was only mildly uncomfortable. And when I was moving, it wasn't uncomfortable at all, so that worked. And even starting later I made it to the top with time to spare before sunrise! Also I had an ear of my favorite music the whole time...it was almost fun. Almost.
So I sat for about 40 minutes on a sharp rock on the summit of Mt. Fuji freezing my ass off waiting for sunrise (there were people climbing on pretty dangerous parts of the rock too; I was like what are you doing).
I was not disappointed. No rain!! Woo!! I could see things!!! I trust you've seen the pictures. I was a very cold, happy foreigner.
A very cold, happy foreigner that now had to climb back down the stupid mountain. It took about 4 hours to climb down last time in the rain, dehydrated, and missing a lens of my glasses. This time I was pretty optimistic that I could make it in at least 3. (Can I also point out that I had cell service the whole time? Lol) I was able to progress more rapidly by using my gloves and sliding my free hand along the guide rope for most of it. And towards the end, I made even better time when I realized I was about to miss the once-an-hour bus. So with a burst of knee-destroying speed, I made the 9:30 bus. My descent took exactly 3 hours.
I made it home around noon, and immediately threw everything (including my clothes from the work day before that smelled like nasty water) into the washer. I then passed out for like 6 hours. But the day was not yet done! For that was the day of my friend from college's arrival in Shizuoka, so I got on my bicycle once more to take her to dinner. And I was very very sore for the next few days.
And I'm probably jinxing myself somehow by saying this, but I will say it now with absolute certainty: I will never, ever, do that again.