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Climbing Mt. Fuji at night – Part 2

Japanese climbers set off at dusk from Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station (Yoshida Trail)

Japanese climbers set off at dusk from Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station (Yoshida Trail) 6PM

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.

Direction sign on Fuji Subaru Line ( Yoshida Trail ) Night climb

Direction sign on Fuji Subaru Line ( Yoshida Trail ) Night climb  6.20PM

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.

Direction sign on Fuji Subaru Line ( Yoshida Trail ) Night climb

Direction sign on Fuji Subaru Line ( Yoshida Trail ) Night climb 7PM

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.

Lights of hikers on Fuji Subaru Line ( Yoshida Trail ) Night climb

Lights of hikers on Fuji Subaru Line ( Yoshida Trail ) Night climb 10PM

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.

Headlamps on Mt Fuji.  12.30AM

Headlamps on Mt Fuji. 12.30AM

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.

Hot food at the mountain huts on Fuji.

Hot food at the mountain huts on Fuji.

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.

Dawn at the summit of Mt Fuji.  4.57AM

Dawn at the summit of Mt Fuji. 4.57AM

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.

View of Fuji's shadow from the summit of Mt Fuji 5.50AM

View of Fuji’s shadow from the summit of Mt Fuji 5.50AM

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing your journey. I’ve also heard it’s best to traverse Fuji-San in darkness. Probably best, too, for mad dogs. 🙂
    That sunrise looks glorious!

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