Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Travellingbie Throwback : Mount Fuji - Conquering the highest volcanic mountain in Japan (English version)

Mount Fuji - Conquering the highest volcanic mountain in Japan

27th August 2016 - Saturday 
Day 1
The Rainy Day
Standing at 3,776m, Mt Fuji (also known as Fuji-san) is Japan’s highest mountain. The trip was purposely to climb few mountains especially Mount Fuji. Fujisan is very beautiful during summer as it covers half of the mountain with snow. Fujisan is open for public during July until early September where there is no snow covering the summit.

So, what it's like to climb an active volcanic mountain?
Well, to be honest about that, I don’t know. The excitement is more than fear. Even though, I have done my research about Fujisan, the route, weather and others, at the time arriving the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station, it was uncertain and totally unexpected. The chance and clarity of sighting cannot be predicted and we can only hope to be really lucky. However, we were not lucky enough to hike Fujisan. We started the journey to this majestic and mysterious (or maybe fascinating is a better word) mountain with cloudy, raining, foggy and cold.

A short history of Mount Fuji – known as Fujisan (san means mountain) is an active volcano mountain located at the border of Shizuoka Prefecture and Tamanashi Prefecture with altitude of 3776m. Fujisan is also a symbol of Japan other than cherry (sakura).
The entrance fee to climb Fujisan is only 1000 yen and we were given the wood chain for souvenirs and a booklet about Fujisan. We started climbing on 27th August 2016 at 1pm from Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station following Yoshida Trails. The hike up the mountain normally takes about 4 to 5 hours to the mountain hut at the 8th Station. Surprisingly, at the time we climb, there are too many climbers and sometimes at certain point of the trails, we have to queue and take turns to climb. It was raining the whole day and sometimes strong winds hit us during the climb. I was wet, cold and a bit weak and I almost give up at the 8th station before our mountain hut. It took me 7 hours of climbing compare to others who have reached the mountain hut as early at 4pm. The weather was torturing me, but I have to move on slowly and keep on climbing. I am lucky that I have the best sweeper and supporter who help me along the journey. 

We both reach mountain hut at 8th Station – Gurasanmo hut at 7pm. It was already dark and others already have their dinner. I have to clean up first and to change my wet clothes. There is no shower up there and the water is reused to preserve the nature…OMG! After a quick clean up, I went upstairs to check on the dorm and put my backpack. The dorm was packed as there are many climbers climbing Fujisan this week. 
Both of us have dinner at 830pm and we have given half an hour to finish our dinner. We have rice and fish sausage for dinner, and also “serunding” that I brought from far. After dinner, I forced myself to rest and sleep before we continue the climb to summit at 1am.

28th August 2016 - Sunday 
Day 2
The Summit
At 1230am, I woke up and started to pack. We have to bring all our items to the summit as the hiking down route is different. The bag pack of course is heavier than before and weighed me up a bit during the climb to summit and on the way down. And I have the biggest problem while climbing up to the summit as I left my headlamp in the haversack.

After packing, and eat our breakfast provided by the mountain hut, we started our journey with duá, asking for safety along the journey. Duá can be a powerful tool for everything we do. 

At 1 am in the morning, the weather was cold, extremely cold after the rain. We were lucky there was no shower rain and it was only drizzle at that time. I still put on my raincoat inside and a jacket outside to protect the cloth from wet. My only hope during the climb was a light from other climbers and my climbing partner. Once a while he will flash the light back to lighten my way up. One of the advantage of hiking in the dark was, you cannot see what’s in front of you and how high is the climbing. You just need to keep moving and climbing until you reach the summit, and I did that with tears and sweats. After 1-hour hike, I looked up the trail and I can see many lights moving to the higher part. It really tortures me to see the lights keep on moving as I know that the climb was not going to end soon, but I know that I cannot return back to the mountain hut as everyone was moving up to one direction to the summit.
Climbers from all over the places, countries, old and young climbers are hiking up to one direction. Whenever I feel tired and cannot move on, I stop a while, take a long deep breath and continue hiking. The weather was extremely cold and some of the climbers already have AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). Others from my group was in front and left me behind. I understand that everyone need to climb according to their pace. They cannot follow my pace and I cannot follow theirs. We promise each other that we will meet at the summit and celebrate together. 

Climbing the mountains or any mountain does not require me to be the first to reach the summit. It was not a competition nor a marathon. It is the only activities that I don’t have to compete with others. I only have to compete with myself, testing myself how far I can go and how capable I am in fighting with myself.

The hiking seems a never ending story for me. As I hike slowly and other climbers passed through me, the tiny air seems to be more disturbing than the cold, I took a deep breath in and out. I started to feel sleepy and yawn almost in every step. I know I cannot stop and need to keep on moving. Falling asleep on the trail was dangerous, you either fall asleep for a longtime and never return home or you will end up staying a bit longer in the hospital.
At 330 am, the surrounding is getting a bit brighter. The other climbers are moving faster to reach the next pit stop. While I was getting my breath and stop, one of the climber, very old climber push me to keep on moving and he waited for me to keep on climbing. It was very inspirational to see climbers help and motivate other climbers. I was amazed by this uncle’s spirit and that was one of the reason for me not to quit.

At 345am, when I reached Torii Gate, I thought it was at 9th station and we have another station to reach. I took a deep breath and keep on climbing at the station. There were many climbers and the surrounding was just like a busy shopping mall except it was still dark, windy and extremely cold. Suddenly, someone call my name, “kak bie, TAHNIAH dah sampai puncak” and I was a bit blurred and not to mention, unbelievable. I was already at the Fujisan summit, MasyaAllah, and I did it. Reaching up the highest volcanic mountain in Japan was a dream come true. I keep on praising God for giving me such an opportunity to be able to climb Fujisan. 
I try to find a place where I can sit and less windy, but I didn’t find any except to go into the cafe at the summit. I find a place next to others to watch the sunrise, capturing moments and photos. Well, at least I get the shots that were just perfect as the way I wanted them anyway. We were lucky enough to have a beautiful magnificent sunrise after raining the whole day yesterday and a drizzling on that day besides the strong wind and extreme cold. We were above the ocean of clouds and our positions were parallel to the sun rise. The feeling was indescribable. I feel blessed. Everyone was having their silent moments while staring at the sunrise and captured all moments while we can. The praise all goes to Almighty Allah as He is the Creator of the Sun and this beautiful moment. Some of us, brought our National flag and we proudly capture moments with our national flag at the summit. It was the moment of proud and honored being Malaysian and be able to wave our flag at the highest mountain in Japan.

Hiking Down
Once in the extreme cold for about 2 hours at the top, my lips and fingers were started to become numb. I can hardly pronounce certain words to others as well as them and we were laughing at the situation we experienced. At 6am we began to move into the crater of Mount Fuji and continue our journey back hiking down Fujisan. I never thought that I would reach the summit. Climbing up the summit requires more energy than I thought. Surprisingly, hiking down needs more mental strength and strong spirit as the body started to feel exhausted and painful. It is true that, “Every climber, professional or novice to never underestimate the mountain we climb.”
While hiking down is a must for every climber, I have to be persistent and keep on moving along the sliding and rocky trails. Once a while, I fell down and the knee started to scream. The zig-zag tracks were very challenging and mentally tortured as I can see other climbers were hiking down from far. The hiking down distance was more than 6km and I took around 5 hours to reach Fuji Subaru Line 5th station at 11am.

Once I reached the entrance gate, almost everyone has arrived except some of our friends who were injured. We have waited almost nearly an hour for them to reach the 5th station. At nearly 1215pm, everyone has arrived safe and without any major injuries except knee pain and blisters.
We ended up our extraordinary and memorable journey at 1230pm. The other group were heading back to Shinjuku by bus and the 4 of us will be heading back to Kawaguchiko Station and stay a night at Koe House. We need to regain back our energy and strength before heading back to Tokyo for more adventurous journey. I never say goodbye to Fujisan as probably one fine day, I’ll be climbing Fujisan again with good and terrific beautiful weather. Till we meet again Fujisan. We have good memories and good tidings together.

Some of the most valuable things I learn while climbing Fujisan. Climbers are passionate about what they are doing and never give up. They will help other climbers who are in trouble along the way up or hiking down regardless any nationalities, the color of the skin, the religion of thoughts and others. Selfishness is never in their diaries of life. That was the spirit of almost every climber have.
Bringing the spirit of Malaysian independence at the top of Mount Fuji with Malaysian flag give me and others a sense of extraordinary national spirit. I hope, my country and Malaysians will also be more robust and resilient to the current economic situation and the overwhelming political situation.

How to get there (Fujisan):
From Kuala Lumpur, fly and land to Haneda International Airport or Narita International Airport. Take an expressway bus to Kawaguchiko Station and take a bus to Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station.

Thanks a million to Airasia for providing the affordable return flight tickets, flying us safely to Tokyo and sending us back safely to Malaysia.

Copyright reserved: @lindunganbulan
[Please get my permission before using or re-use or re-produce the articles or pictures]
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