Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Hardest Climb Ever

The endless switchbacks up the mountain.
I had to give myself a number of days of recovery, plus get a better disposition before I could give an unbiased opinion about the Mt. Fuji climb.  When we signed up for the trek I honestly don't think we were aware of what we were getting ourselves into.  I think we needed to learn "the hard way" so that we would know what to differently next time (I'll be the fool who tries it again year).

We are still smiling.  I think this was around 6th station.
  "A wise person climbs Mt. Fuji once, only a fool would climb it twice'. 
Famous Japanese Saying

There are a number of things I'll do differently to prepare for this climb.  While I do realize that if I reached the summit before getting turned around by our tour guide, this blog entry would have a completely different tone.  That's why I've decided to incorporate some things from my son and husband who did indeed reach the summit.  Here are some useful recommendations to consider:
  • Get enough rest the night before.  We got about 2 hours of sleep before we had to get on the tour bus at 2:00a.m.  Not a good start to such a vigorous day of climbing.
  • Consider going without a tour.  If you do not want all the time constraints they give you on a tour, then consider making the drive to the mountain yourself.  They have parking at the 5th station.
  • If you buy the walking stick, limit the number of times you get it stamped.  We wasted a good 1/2 hour (total) stopping at each hut to get the stamps.  While I like the memory, if I would've known in advance just how many we were going to get, I would've limited it to a small handful of stations.
  • Buy a can of oxygen.  Some of us suffered from a headache, coughing and fatigue from the altitude.  I think the extra puff of oxygen would possibly have helped us.  I was told by a friend to bring a can with us, but didn't think we'd need it.  Next time I'll know better.
  • Make sure to eat enough.  I think along with the change in altitude, not eating enough contributed to the massive headache my husband suffered on the climb.  We bought gel packs, energy bars, rice balls, etc.  
  • Take small sips of water.  I would suggest getting a CamelBak (one that fits 2 liters of water minimum) and taking a couple small sips when you are thirsty.  My husband and son both ran out of water on the climb.  
  • Go in July.  I'm wishing we would have gone in July instead of August.  I'm just partially joking because I have to wait another 11 months or so to attempt it again.  I should be more than ready by then. 
The descent was very challenging and rocky.

Our walking sticks.

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