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Monday, 13 August 2018

The Monday Piece - Climbing Mount Fuji Top Tips

This week's Monday Piece is on climbing Mount Fuji top tips! On Saturday night Nick and I climbed through the night to reach the peak of Mount Fuji ready for the glorious sun rise. We'd talked about hiking the mountain but I have zero experience so I was a little apprehensive about taking on the beast, but after a little consideration I decided to go for it and take it on! I'm trying to push myself out of my comfort zone more and more, so this seemed like a fantastic challenge, of course prior to the trip I had friends and acquaintances tell me horror stories of failed attempts and serious struggles but I didn't let that hinder my cause. I must admit I relied on Nick planning the whole thing because I didn't really want to overwhelm myself with information and stress of organising something I didn't know much about - of course I knew the basics so I was ready for her.

We hiked the more popular Yoshida route, so started from the 5th station, this route increaseas the chance of getting altitude sickness but it was the best option for us. We took a steady pace and didn't want to burn ourselves out too quickly and took regular breaks for the whole route. We made our way up the mountain steadily, and didn't rest or sleep in the huts as it was really busy and wanted to continue to get to the top in ample time. I hadn't realised how rocky the mountain was but scrambling and pulling myself up higher for hours was a great experience and a challenge I hadn't experienced before! Getting to the top felt like such a physical and mental accomplishment, and getting to see the incredible sun rise at 3776 metres above sea level was absolutely worth it! Getting back down was more of a challenge than I anticipated, my legs tightened up and I'd not been eating enough, but after fuelling my body I was bouncing down and enjoying it!

Check out my top tips below if you're thinking of taking on Fuji-san.

1. Take SUGAR - my top tip, if you hike throughout the night you will get mega tired, refuel your body with regular bursts of sugar, without this I'm not sure I would've got down the mountain as beforehand I was seriously lagging. I took sour sugary sweets so anything like that or sugary energy gels will do the trick.

2. Wear comfy light layers - take lots of light layers that you can store in your hiking bag, it gets so cold the higher you go up and you will definitely need them, especially gloves, and a hat and scarf.

3. Take lots of water - staying hydrated is important on a normal day, so when you're hiking for 12-16 hours it's imperative. The mountain huts sell bottle water but expect to pay ¥400 for the privilege.

4. Wear decent hiking gear - we rented ours from a store in Shinjuku, if you don't have your own gear then hiring is the best option. We got shoes, rain jacket and trousers, bag, headlamp, gators, poles and free socks for ¥8500 yen all in. You'll need the poles so don't skimp on those!

5. Go steady - don't start off too fast or try to rush it, because of the altitude it gets tougher the higher you go so conserve your energy and take regular breaks.

6. Take food - prepacked meals, snacks, and anything else you fancy, food is key. You can buy it on the mountain but it's expensive and options are limited.

7. Only pack the essentials - I took maybe too many essentials, but stick to food, water, layers, wet wipes, toilet roll, plastic bags for rubbish,  and a few necessary emergency items like oxygen cans (in case of altitude sickness) and a small emergency kit.

8. Coins - ¥100 coins are so important as you have to pay for every thing on the mountain, even the toilets...

9. Enjoy the experience - the whole thing can be daunting, especially if you have little hikng experience, but enjoy it and embrace the challenge, don't panic or over think it. The feeling of completing the highest mountain in Japan is pretty epic.


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