1. Be at the top for the sunrise. You may be wondering whether it’s worth climbing Mt Fuji during the night, or staying overnight in one of the huts. It is a bit of a hassle, since you would lose a good night’s sleep, but considering that the summit is nearly always in the clouds after the mid-morning, it’s worth it just to get an amazing view.
2. Pick a weekday for your climb. Even a Friday climb will almost certainly mean you will be stuck in traffic on the way down on Saturday. The same for a Sunday climb – you’ll get traffic on the way up, delaying your start. Taking a couple of days off in the week will mean avoiding traffic jams, overcrowded huts and lines to reach the top.
3. Get good hiking shoes. Mt Fuji is rocky and some parts can be steep. The sturdier the shoes, the less risk of stumbling and injuring yourself. Don’t forget that new shoes need to be broken in, otherwise you’ll get painful blisters. Take them on a walk or two around the neighbourhood.
4. Make sure you have a waterproof jacket and pants. Since Mt Fuji has its own weather system, it can rain at any moment. Unusually strong wind is also a factor so it’s important to stay dry.
5. Bring warm clothes for the wait at the top. After you reach the top there will be a wait in the pre-dawn cold before sunrise, so bringing warm clothes including gloves and a hat is critical.
6. Train a little beforehand. In case you don’t exercise regularly, you should probably go to the gym 2 or 3 times the week before your climb. I usually use the step machine for 20 minutes and try to climb 100 steps. Remember that after a 3-5 hour climb there is also a 2-3 hour descent. Even though the excitement of the climb may lift you to the top, the long descent is where your muscles really start to ache
7. Keep an eye on the weather. If a typhoon threatens or if there is a period of bad weather, it may be wiser to reschedule. Google “fuji weather” to get current forecasts.
8. Use the Fujinomiya route. Despite being further and more expensive it has 3 major advantages over the usual Yoshida route. First, it has the highest starting point 2380m and the most direct route. Second, the return can be made down the sand run of subashiri. You can literally run down it and it will take you half the time. Just make sure not to run all way down to the Gotemba trail, but turn off for Mt Hoei. Finally, it is less crowded. Click here for the bus times.
9. Get a good map of Mt Fuji. Even though there always tons of people and plenty of English signposts, there are also many trails and visibility can sometimes drop to zero in bad weather. Having a good map will help you make the right decision. A good map will also include the walking times.
10. Be self-sufficient when it comes to food and water. Even though you can buy water and food pretty much anywhere on Mt Fuji, this is just a sound principle to stick to when climbing any mountain.
This content was created for the Tadaima Japan web magazine by Hiking around Tokyo, a blog that introduces hikes in the mountains near Tokyo. It was also published on the Hiking around Tokyo blog.
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