Breakfast at 8 so a lie in after a surprisingly comfortable nights sleep. Breakfast was a traditional old style Japanese breakfast, so fish and soup! Although we ate it all I can see why most Japanese now enjoy Western style breakfasts.
We were picked up by coach and a couple of hours later we arrived at the 5th Station on Fuji. This is the highest you can get on Fuji and its busses only. There are a number of shops and restaurants and through the cloud you can see up Fuji.
All the members of the tour were reunited and we had dinner in one of the restaurants, a large meal where again we cooked some ourselves.
One of the items you can buy at the tat shop is a wooden stick, of varying lengths from almost full height to a foot a long. You get the stick branded at various lodges and Stations as you make your way up the mountain. We both bought the shortest one.
We were split into 5 groups ours was group 3 and we were introduced to our mountain guide “Can” who was a young Japanese guy and “Kat” an English speaking tour guide and interpreter. Can could only speak a few words in English but Kat was perfect, he attended boarding school in Milton Keynes and University in the U.S.
We set off shortly after 2pm and slowly headed up to the 7th Station. The walking is slow taking tiny steps as you progress up a number of switchbacks occasionally passing lodges on the way.
As we are at 3,000 meters and above the oxygen in the air starts to drop significantly so the slow pace allows us to acclimatise without getting Mountain Sickness.
At the 7th Station we took off our shoes and boots sat on the floor and enjoyed Beef Curry and Rice before going to bed at 6pm. The beds are Alpine Hut style, 2 or 3 layers high and just one long bed where everyone sleeps next to each other.
At 11pm after little to no sleep, lots of blokes led next to each other was noisy and hot, we got to start the final stage.
It was now completely dark, we all had torches, Can and Kat and red light sabers to guide us. We started to climb, no longer on the dusty dirt track but now we clambered over the volcanic rocks. It was busy and we often stopped as the volume of other climbers made it impossible to continue at a sensible pace. Finally we could see the Tori gate at the top of the rock and just below the summit. We slowly claimed last last few 100m and arrived at the top at 4:30. I met Chris who had got dragged along in the crowd and reached the summit 5 minutes earlier. We made our way to a space and sat down I the freezing wind, by now I had on a tshirt, fleece, down jacket and waterproof.
The climb and wait was worth it, the sun rose in the distance and above the clouds at 5:00.
We went and had our sticks branded, used the toilet (£1.50 a go) and met up with everyone else.
At 6 we started out decent with 100s of others Kat issued us with face masks as the dust being kicked up created clouds of volcanic ash that got in your eyes, you wanted to avoid breathing it in. The decent was due to take 4 hours but myself and Chris pushed on and got back to the 5th Station at 9.
We found a vending machine and grabbed 2 Mt Fuji beers to wash down the dust.
At 11 we took to the restaurant to enjoy breakfast/dinner before jumping on the coach to Tokyo.
1 1/2 hours later we arrived at the hotel, a little afternoon nap then off out to explorer and grab some dinner before an early night.