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Climbing Mount Fuji, Sunrise Pictures, Story, and Guide

Climbing Mount Fuji, Sunrise Pictures, Story, and Guide 2005-08-17

The title of this picture is "Mount Fuji, Clouds Before Sunrise." The vast ocean of cloads rolling out to the horizon wasn't quite as dark and mysterious as you see here, but it was an awe inspiring sight. I've never seen a sunrise that compares (except last time I climbed Fuji). You can read about my first time up Fuji here. Over the next few days I'll post pictures and tell the story of this year's climb, and I'll share whatever tips and lessons I picked up along the way. If you want to climb Mount Fuji (or pass information along to others) then bookmark this page for future reference.

Climbing Mount Fuji 2005 - Part One: Finding Fellow Climbers

Ever since my first time up Mount Fuji I wanted to go again. Most people have the opposite reaction, but not me. Sure it's a crowded, dusty trail with little "nature" in sight. Yeah, thousands of people mill about at the top holding cameras and $5 cans of coffee purchased from one of the many vendors selling everything from key chains to noodles. But the view is spectacular, and you simply can't see it as a "nature walk" -- it's a people watching event. Hiking at night (to see the sunrise) means the temperature is cool (even in August), and you don't see the dusty, rocky trail on the way up.

Anyway, more about that later. For now, the important thing to understand, is that many people think climbing up Mount Fuji is a drag. I believe 2 percent of Japanese people climb Mount Fuji during the lifetimes. That means that 98 percent of the Japanese people you invite to go with you will decline with reasons like: a) hahahaha (nervous laughter, most common), b) followed by, "It's too hard" (if you press them), or c) "I'm not going" (if you continue to press). Most want to know if I intend to carry oxygen (available in aerosal cans at the place where you start).

This year I started early. I invited an Iranian friend who has lived in Japan for a very long time, and he agreed instantly. Our plan was to invite a bunch of our friends. But a week before the climb he had two people at most and I had none. One day as I was eating Indian curry at a restaurant, the waiter asked if I was studying Japanese. One thing led to another, and I invited HIM to climb with me. He said "yes." It turns out that he is from Nepal, and he's been to elevations surpassing 6000 meters (including the Everest base camp). So the altitude didn't bother him at all, and I looked forward to climbing a mountain with someone who has breathed the air at heights I've only attained in my dreams.

He invited a friend, too. On the fateful day, we met at Tokyo Station and set off together.

Next: My Climbing Partners


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