Day 005 & 006
Tokyo Skytree and Mt.Fuji
I’ve decided to put the last two days into one diary update, partly because I haven’t had internet access but mainly I’ve been climbing Mt. Fuji through the night and haven’t had any sleep.
The last couple of days have been dramatic to say the least. It started off yesterday by being woken up at 6.30 due to an earthquake. Luckily the earthquake was far enough away we just felt the tremors with the whole hostel shaking. You could tell we weren’t in any serious danger when the Japanese people in my dorm just carried on their day like normal, one man even brushing teeth during the earthquake.
Yesterday morning was the first time we’ve seen rain in Tokyo. Although a welcome relief from the constant 30 degree heat. So we put our luggage into storage at the train station and headed to the Moomin cafe at Tokyo Skytree. The experience was completely bizarre with Moomin inspired dishes and cutlery. But the oddest/funniest part is that they put a giant Moomin cuddly toy sitting at the table with you. I wouldn’t recommend it for the food but I would definitely would for the atmosphere and novelty factor.
After the Moomin cafe and 4 trains and 2 buses later we arrived at Mt.Fuji. During the journey we met a couple of French girls also trying to navigate the bus route, both were extremely excited about the Euro’s final and as naive as us when it comes to climbing mountains.
Depending on which route you take it should take between 7-10 hours to reach the summit. Within half an hour we started talking to Courtney, a student from Australia who is currently traveling around Asia on her own. As we were all the same age we hit it off straight away and she ended up walking the whole way with us. We started at 8pm which meant it was already almost pitch black so we had no idea what of the challenge we were going to take on…
Day 006 (today)
Day 6 started as day 5 ended, climbing Mt.Fuji through the night in order to see the sun rise over Japan.
There were thousands of walkers doing the night climb all with torches and lights. At one point the group of people in front of us got around 100m ahead so I decided to lead my group. It wasn’t till I got to a view point did I realise that I hadn’t just been been leading my group but hundreds of people up the mountain, I could see all their lights weaving up the trail behind us. A truly unforgettable moment.
As we were starting to flag around 2am a welcome surprise paced past us, an elderly Japanese gentleman practically running to the top while carrying a boom box playing Bruno Mars’ Lazy song. But unfortunately this didn’t work as any kind of antidote as both Juna and Courtney started to feel the effects of altitude sickness. Thankfully, despite fully expecting to be, I wasn’t effected by the height at all. But as we got higher and higher both their lungs were getting tighter and it was getting colder (around 3 degrees at the summit). We kept stopping to let them catch their breath but it meant standing in the freezing wind in darkness on the edge of a mountain.
By the time we reached the summit at 3.15am Juna was wearing every piece of head wear I packed, and I packed a whole bag of Fuji head wear in my suitcase. Yet this wasn’t enough, suffering from both the cold and altitude sickness she ended up shaking in the foetal position on the floor of the food-serving mountain hut.
Luckily there were some fellow climbers with us from Mongolia and France, with the Mongolians leading an impromptu group exercise class to get everybody warm. After that and borrowing one of their body warmers Juna was feeling better, just in time for the 4.30am sunrise. It was absolutely breathtaking watching the sun peer over the horizon then slowly rise up over Japan.
After a couple of hours taking in the view we headed back down. I found this harder than coming up due to the amount of pressure on your knees when walking down over volcanic ash. Then at 10am after descending for 4 hours we were so exhausted from not sleeping for over 27 hours we literally couldn’t go a step further. So we did what all the other tired climbers do, and napped on the side of the mountain. We had hit the wall just as we started walking through the clouds so we literally slept in the clouds. After an hours kip we found the descent much easier and ended up getting to the end after 6 hours.
Our hike up the mountain was then rewarded with a 3 hour traffic jam on the coach on the way back, all the other tourists were complaining but I secretly enjoyed having the excuse to catch up on some much needed sleep.