"" Writer's Wanderings: A Look Back: Mount Fuji, Rock Climbing at 9,000 Feet

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

A Look Back: Mount Fuji, Rock Climbing at 9,000 Feet

 [I say it again. I can't believe I did this. And for sure, once was enough.]

Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse on our climb, it did. We hit a spot where it was all rock and while not straight up, it required hand over hand maneuvering for any progress. How in the world would anyone make this climb with anything other than trekking boots?

At this point we were probably around 2800 meters (about 9,000 feet) up since Station 8 is at 3100 meters. The air was getting thinner and thinner. While I didn't feel any altitude sickness I did find it increasingly harder to breath and now we were exerting even more energy by hoisting ourselves up and over rocky protrusions sometimes with little to place your feet on firmly.

And then it began to rain.

My heart sunk. I could not imagine how much more difficult it was going to be if these rocks got wet and slippery. Thankfully it did not seem to get too bad. I think the fact that much of the loose rock was lava and the more solid rock did not have moss on it made the rain water just wet the surface and not become a sloshy mess.

Station 7
Note to anyone planning this climb or any other where rain gear may be needed: Do not rely on a rain poncho. We had bought ponchos instead of rain jackets and pants. We thought they would be easier to get on while we were climbing. They were but then any slight wind billowed them out and it was impossible to see where you were planting your feet. It would have been fine on the graveled trail but climbing the rock was a real challenge with plastic flowing out and around you.

Sometime in here when we took a short break my English speaking friend who had given me the oxygen tablets mentioned that Station 8 was not our destination. Our hut was actually the last one on the trail and was another hour and a half of climbing past the Station 8 hut. As I sat there trying to catch my breath and gauging the strength I had left (my legs were turning to jello and beginning to spasm) I made the decision to stop. I was not going to be able to do this for another hour and a half.

Our youngest climber was looking a little tired.
We called the guides over and asked about whether I could stay at the hut we were resting in front of for the night and join the group as they descended from the top the following day. Our friendly Japanese guide didn't try terribly hard to convince me to continue although I'm sure he would have enjoyed looking me in the eye again and saying, "Shall we go?"

The arrangements were made and my son and husband pooled their cash so that I could spend the night. They continued on and I was relieved to find an English speaking attendant at the hut who would explain the procedure for my stay. I began to relax for the first time all day.

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