Mount Fuji sucks

In the olden days, climbing Mount Fuji was dangerous. The trails weren't graded, there were bears, and without advice from the government no-one had any idea whether it would be better to go during a midwinter blizzard or a fine day in late summer.

Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate.

Today all of these problems have been eradicated, which you might think would make climbing the mountain too easy. Fortunately not. Danger has simply been replaced with its universal equivalent in the First World: Inconvenience.

Actually climbing the mountain is easy. Walk up a few inclines, scramble up a few rocky slopes, and you're done. The problem is psychological: enduring the stop-start shuffling pace as you become one with the perfect storm of tour groups gathering at the top. I hadn't really thought much about how many people you could fit around the ring of a volcano crater, but I would never have guessed that it was this many. 20% of the ascent time is spent standing absolutely still and waiting for your line's turn to go through the bottleneck.

Me, I hate waiting in line for things I don't really want... and let's face it, I don't care that much about standing on the highest mountain in Japan. It's not like it's made of chocolate, or bustling with monocled guys in top hats who say things like, "You there! Hold my wallet while I sprint drunkenly along the edge!"

(Note: this isn't a "why are all these tourists ruining the places I want to tour?" backpacker rant, it's a "why didn't I foresee that on a fine Saturday night in the middle of climbing season, Mount Fuji would be so crowded that all pleasure I might derive from the experience would be leached away?" lament.)

Are you for real? I climbed this far and I'm still in Japan?

On the other hand, positives:

  • Paying a 300% markup on hydration is a humbling and valuable reminder of certain facts I usually try to ignore.
  • The sunrise is impressive. I guess.
  • Not needing the oxygen you brought or getting a headache from altitude sickness makes you feel like a big man. Especially if you had a sore throat to begin with. You know what they say: feed a cold, drag a sore throat up to three kilometers above sea level.
  • It's fun bonding with guys from Osaka over the difficulty of lighting cigarettes in such a thin atmosphere.
  • Excuse to buy a new LED light. (Not that I needed it: see overcrowding.)
  • Excuse to buy a staff.
  • Nobody died.
  • Ego-boosting mail from friends requesting that I, specifically, not die. (This is also a negative, as it betrays a disturbing lack of faith.)

Popularity factor: 6


No one dressed in Santa Claus garb alongside with you?


Why didn't you just take the elevator?


Wow, when I went to climb Mt. Fuji at around this time two years ago, it hailed, rained, the temperature was extremely cold, people in my group started to suffer from altitude sickness, and it was so windy it blew my glasses off. In the end my trek up and down the mountain lasted over 15 hours and red dirt ended up in every niche and corner of my body!

Congratulations for a job well done!


Roy: No, but my heart did grow three sizes that day. (From overexertion.)

Denske: It was out of service. I guess it must have been damaged in the explosion when Agent Z foiled Dr Infernus' monstrous plan to destroy the moon with a nuclear magma-powered ultralaser.

Anonymous: Ouch! Sounds like you endured a much more serious challenge than me. I'm envious! (I did get the red dirt, though. I hear it's bad luck to take rocks away from Fuji... I hope it doesn't count when they come of their own accord. I had at least a small boulder's worth in my shoes when I got home.)


Well, if somebody has to do that nasty spiritual chore, better you than me. I've never had much desire to join the Fuji congregation. Has about as much appeal as going to a Japanese municipal swimming pool in August.


It wasn't too bad when I went about three summers ago...

I have to admit, though: I got altitude sickness. I not only had a headache, I had serious nausea. So while everyone was admiring the sunset and exploring the crater, I was wishing I was dead. I felt fine almost immediately upon descent though.

I also took a bag of O'Zack's up there. It puffed up nicely. (Mmmm... O'Zack's Mayo and Kimchi potato chips...)

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