At 6PM I left the 5th Station and started the climb up Fuji. There were many other hikers on the trail, including several larger groups with a leader at the front and an assistant at the rear.
Following the trail is very easy. It’s well signposted and there are plenty of people around. By 7PM it was dark, but I’d brought with me a great new LED Lenser headlamp
and a spare flashlight. I’d also brought my full size tripod, the 645Z, and three lenses so my pack was a little on the heavy side.
Hauling all my camera gear up the mountain did mean that I could get some interesting light painting shots on the climb. The sign above was lit with the flashlight, while the background had a 30 second exposure.
The following shot was a three minute exposure as a group of hikers wound up the trail past me. The leader and assistant had the red LED stick and the green LED globe. The other hikers between them were using white LED headlamps.
At 12.30 I passed through a torii gate at one of the huts. I set up the tripod and for 70 seconds captured the headlamps of hikers flowing up the mountain.
I’d brought plenty of snacks with me, but if you wanted or needed to there was hot food, chocolate bars and potato chips on sale at the various huts on your way up. Of course it was about double the price you’d pay at a convenience store, but you are halfway up a mountain.
At one hut I met freelance sound engineer Matt. A great guy who’s travelled the world working for iconic rocks bands and the occasional magician. We chatted as we hiked until we reached the summit just before dawn.
I watched the sunrise, and then spent an hour walking the rim of the crater. From the opposite edge to where I’d ascended you could view the shadow of Fuji stretching out across the lowlands. A little before 7AM I began to head down the mountain. It was possible to jog (scree run) down the descent route. It was great that progress was so quick because the cloudless sky and lack of vegetation meant it got hot very quickly.
I made it back to the 5th station just after 9AM, and booked a place on the bus to Shinjuku. While waiting, I saw other hikers arriving about to begin their ascent. It was then I realized that I’d definitely made the right decision to trek up in darkness, because this Englishman doesn’t want to go up Fuji in the midday sun.