Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Conquering Fuji-san

We arrived at Lake Kawaguchi or known in Japanese as Kawaguchiko late afternoon.....right after some heavy exercise of....of...errr...shopping at Gotenba Premium Outlet about 20 minutes from here. Well strong muscles are needed to dash from shops to shops, trying on shoes and clothings....but most of all, all energy were spent carrying our purchases :))))

Since J&J James was driving, so can shop as much as u want without consideration of space and lugging them around.

As the Sun sets on Lake Kawaguchi, all fingers *and toes* were crossed for a better day tomorrow as it was D Day for our Mount Fuji ascent.

The team consisted of J&J James and Jelina, and Mr. JS....they have planned and did groundwork plus preparing for this expedition. Including shopping for the right gears, getting into the right diet plan, consultations with Sports & Lifestyle Doctor *our dearie Doc Chook* and most importantly....they have been training for 3 months. Not just any simple training but really solid one. From cardio to strength building, endurance and positive mind. J&J Jelina even lost 9kg along the way!!!! *clap clap clap and double applause*

While Monkey was still busy yaya-ing in her own lil world, at work, in social life or just goofing around. Everyone was so worried for her. Friends were even more worried.

JS even declared he's training his body for two, just in case he needed to carry me and my bag up.
Sexay Back Maggie: "Don't let him carry you. You can do it!!!"
Monkey gulped.....

So during Sundown, with Mount Fuji standing majestically right in front of us, it just dawn on Miss lil notti Monkey....that there's no turning back now...there's only one way up. And to get down u still have to get all the way up to a certain station before u could make ur way down the mountain.

I think the word Gah is just not enuff...it should be a BIG GAH!!!!

Stay positive!!!! enjoy it and smell the roses....in this case these beautiful flowers by the lake side.

~_~ *shivered*
JS and his top favourite statement "SEE!!! I told u so!!!" *to train 3 months ago*."

I was so nervous, couldn't eat well, but I sure slept like a pig hahahahaha. This isn't good bcoz my anxiety began to spread like virus to the expedition group....the rest began to feel anxious too.

The next morning saw the sun struggling to shine thru the thick clouds.........
OMG!!! this weather is not good!!!!
GAH!!! GAH!!! GAH!!!

hey....looks like storm clouds on the peak!! Monkey pointed that Mount Fuji is wearing a nice hat!!! or something like an UFO flying over Mount fuji hahahaha

JS -_-"

Lurve this pic taken by JS...of a lone fisherman on the lake.

Monkey in her showercap.....soaking in onsen. Don't u think our room has such a stunning view? Both the lake and the Mountain.

I know my dear readers...u felt like smacking me on the face right? At this juncture with 2 more hours to the climb, she still have the nerve to soak in the hot spring onsen

JS was even more -_-" tsk tsk...this gal~~~~beyond help already

Oh well, watever it is...there's no turning back and we will do it and make it to the top nevertheless *I was really praying hard that I will make it* In fact I wasn't really soaking in relaxation, I was meditating and "speaking" to the sacred Mountain. Here I am...

.all humbled and naked, looking up at you.....I pray to you to let me ascend you with no casualty. Yes it's my fault for not training but please let me make it. I will pay the price later, just let me make it to the summit. Amen.

We drove in silence to the 5th station, with J&J James visualizing that he's cycling at each bend with slope ratio of 4-6%. This man just joined us a few days earlier after cycling nearly 500km in Hokkaido.....I don't know how he did it.

It was a pleasant drive, but we could already feel the pressure building on our ears as we approached 2,300 metres / 7,500 feet above sea level. We did pop a pill each this morning during breakfast - altitude sickness pills that is~~~~

All ready guys????? As final checks and preparations has been done, there's really no turning back now.

Go and pray at Komitake Shrine first....hehehehe
this lil shrine is just behind those shops at the 5th Station. We started our climb at the popular Yoshida Trail. There are about 4 trails that you can choose to ascend but Yoshida has theh most facilities.

It takes between 5-7 hours by this trail to reach the summit depending on fitness level and speed. I guess it's all mental strength for that fateful day bcoz the weather was just so terrible. Mount Fuji is only open for climb in those 2 months between mid July to mid Sept. The peak season would be during August. Any time off climbing season, you would be on your own, as all mountain huts are closed and of coz climb at ur own risk with the heavy snow and freezing temperature.

The main entry point for Yoshida trail. We were still looking happy, full of energy and jovial.....

U can also choose to hire a horse to take you from 5th station to 6th station. Seriously 5th to 6th station was nothing....it was child's play...so horsie u are not needed. Arigato!!!

 J&J Jelina already took out her phone to check on GPS coordinates and timing.
"We must time our climb!!!!"

Monkey ~_~
Okie...I just wanna make it up there only....doesn't matter how long it takes.

At this level, we could still see vegetations and some small trees and plants. It was very windy though, that lent the chill factor despite the sun.

One more last shot before we are gonna climb at our own speed. So all 4 of us climbed separately. Take care my dear friends....don't wait for me for I am gonna eat your dust as u beep beep ur way through....esp Mr. JS -_-"

He thinks I m gonna chicken out and u-turn back, but Monkey gonna show him she can do it. Little did she know, he was always up there looking down to check on a tiny dot in her bright fuchsia hat weaving her way through up there. There's a reason for him to chose this bright colored hat. Well next time u might as well dressed me in fluorescent orange...that would be stunning!!! I could double up as safety cones for the other climbers. Wuahahahaha

There were also local japanese taking a leisure hike around here. *with their best friend doggie*

J&J James leading the ladies, while Mr. JS was bz capturing all these moments :))))
Looking at the terrain from 5th to 6th station, it's a mixture of lava rocks and more rocky sands.

As usual and expected, Monkey was the last....weaving her way through and enjoying the view.

"We are above the clouds!!!!"

Those boxes were not meant to plant beautiful flowers but as retaining walls for the corrosive sandy pavement of lava sand. I found it easier to walk on the slope instead of taking the steps.

Very soon, the weather changed as we were in between the misty clouds. Visibility was low....it was drizzling, gust of winds almost blew me off....I was holding onto the railing and my climbing sticks. Seen here J&J James was steady as usual. JS even steadier with his camera. Wahahahaha I don't know how one can lug their own bag plus a camera up here...it's just so heavy.

from sandy lava route, it changed to rocky lava pavement.

J&J Jelina: "How to climb this???"

well u just need to decide which rock at which height suits u can u just scale up. Like a Monkey. If u are stucked, just go a step lower and try a different rock again.

It's tough work I know.....so a good climbing shoes is a must. Most importantly it must protect u from slipping and cover your feet all the way up to your ankles so u won't accidentally sprain it. Especially with narrow creaks in between those lava rocks.

J&J Jelina all smiles as she declared that we have arrived at the 7th station!!!! Woohoooooo~~~~~
there are 10th stations all together to the summit. The most difficult and longest would be between 7th to 8th stations.

I made it~~~~~~ 7th station here I come!!!!!

Multiple mountain huts are available for rent to rest and to sleep overnight. They also sell food with toilet facilities. Each toilet visit cost about 200 yen so be prepared with lotsa coins.

We took a short rest here, with some power packed gel food. I was told that gel food are yucky but I guess it depends on which flavours u bought. We have got grapes and green apple flavours. At this juncture I couldn't really care bout flavours, just needed instant energy. Can't be lugging huge and heavy items plus this is the most efficient food as u also need to carry all your own rubbish down. There's no waste basket nor rubbish dump here. Sorry!!!

It's so wet and steep....somebody pls mark out the route for me...which way should I go?? Left or right?? either way, both ain't looking good.

The Sun was shining on the other side...pls come to us...we are cold!!!!

towards the 8th station, Monkey's fuchsia hat flew off to the cliff.....

a Hongkie guy with his gf were trailing behind me and insisted we must picked it up. In chinese customs, it's not good to leave any belongings behind especially at this sacred mountain. So he took the risk and climbed outta the normal route slowly with nothing protecting him left or right, no railings. Monkey pleaded to him, please come back, don't bother bout my silly hat....come back!!!

He slowly eased his way down the steep slope and retrieved my silly hat despite the strong gusty wind. I was almost in tears. After thanking him and his gf, they continued their climb with such vigorous limbs. Oh well young ppl in their early 20s are definitely faster and stronger. So in life, do watever u wanna do while you are able to. Don't wait!!!

and we have arrived at the 8th station with Monkey catching her breathe....bee boo bee boo bee boo.

J&J James and Jelina managed to smile as though it was nothing. While JS said he has waited long enuff for us and he will continue his climb leaving us behind again to eat his dust.

YAYYYYYY!!! We have reached the 8th station!!!!! at 3,100 metres above sea level!!! Somebody was inside the hut, staring at us....hahahaha.

lunch break after almost 3 hours climb of pork pao which we bought at the 5th station. Oh this was definitely much yummier than gel food but because of the altitude, one tends to lose appetite. U can't really have much senses of taste at such altitude.

Nobody told me that there's 8th station then the original 8th station and finally the 8.5 station...
Why is the 8th mark so so so so long?????

conditions got from worse to worst. The rain got heavier...the wind was the killer. We heard that a few hikers got blown away from the strong wind the week before. Gulped.

When the strong gust of wind blew, Monkey just held onto the railing ropes to her might for fear of falling or being blown while the other hand was clutching her hiking sticks tightly, which was again mounted strongly in between those rocks. Never before in my life that I cling on like this. Not even in roller coaster rides for I know there's safety belts.

Our accommodation of the nite is at Goraiko-kan situated at the 8.5 station, the very last and highest lodge on Mount Fuji. While there's another 900metres to the summit.

Monkey didn't event know she has arrived at the reserved lodge until J&J Jelina open the door and hailed down her hands to stop me from continuing on my journey.

we have arrived? this is our lodge? but it's only been a 4 hours hike?? We have arrived??!?!?!???!!? Wow that was really fast. I swear there's sufficient energy to hike up the summit but nvm, I was wet and shivering from the freezing cold, strong wind and rain.

When we arrived at the 8.5 station it was only 2.20pm
Both J&J agreed if not for the weather, we should have all gone straight to the summit and come down again to sleep at this lodge for the nite.

after changing to dry clothing, we were all gathered at the irori
aaaAAAAaaa the comfort of heat!!!!! so the entire afternoon were spent discussing about our hike while deep inside we were all damn worried about the weather for tomorrow's ascent!!!!

at 5pm sharp.....dinner was served!!!
Saba fish in some sweet japanese sauce, pipping hot rice, pickles and a simple salad. It weren't enuff....
Monkey: "JS.....me no like this food~~~~~~"
JS: "EAT!!!!!!"

I was so cold I'm turning purple!!!!!
J&J Jelina couldn't bring herself to eat too so in the end both of us ordered pipping hot udon noodles to supplement :P and not to mention my supplies of chinese dried bbq meat. WAHAHAHAHAHAHA. If I have brought more, I swear I can make big business selling them to other climbers :P

after dinner all of us tried to sleep in this bunker that's as long as the Sarawak Long Houses, shared with like another 60 climbers.....oh trust me this would be the best accommodation in the mountain. There was no heating, all of us were in cold...there were sand on the mattress, the pillow was hard

oh my gawd.....why are we doin this?

I couldn't sleep the whole nite....all I heard was the strong gust of wind outside.
While J&J Jelina was so worried that the strong wind may blow away our roof and we will all be wet again from the rain...

I prayed so hard...please stop raining....please.......
at about 1.30am the rain eventually stopped. We had to wake up by 3am to continue our ascend.

Monkey came out to use the toilet and saw this view...
WOW~~~~~ I felt like I'm in an airplane!!! we were so high!!!! I can see Tokyo from here, far at the horizon!!!!!!!

Again the early morning chill sent me quickly to the toilet and back to the lodge. Why do they have to build the toilets outside and not inside the lodge??? BRRRRrrrrrrRRR~~~~~

and we continue our ascend again separately....trying to catch the sun rise. The team got to the summit in less than 45 minutes....normal time would be at least one hour minimum so I tell you the 3 of them are really super fit human beings that I ever known.

While Monkey was puking at every 100 metres, sat on the cold stone, trying to recover as altitude sickness kicked in real hard. Despite all the pills I've been popping.

first to come out were my apple juice....then my energy bars....before my bile expelled itself.........oh gross....as other climbers stopped and tried to help me. The only way to cure altitude sickness is to get down immediately before u suffer even more from it....symptoms were short breathing, brain swelling that caused terrible headaches that never go away, nausea and in worst case would be vomiting.....which eventually I did.

Monkey told herself not to cry....she has come this far.....one can only move up and on...don't give up. It's all in the mind....trust me my head was so in pain then. I seriously wanted to cry, give up and charter a helicopter to get down.

but I didn't, I pulled a hand brake on my tears...mount my hiking stick into the rocks, tried to steady myself up...take many many short inhales and controlled my breathing, stood up and continued on, in pain.....much pain. I was truly unfit and not prepared for this climb.

when I saw the final Tori.....I knew I have reached the summit!!!!!

I looked back and said to myself.....just in time for sunrise at 4.30am. It's so beautiful~~~~~

more climbers were huffing and puffing their way and shouted Banzai!!!! I guess it means long life in Japanese???

then I ran to the nearest lodge and puke again.....my final puke. LOL!!!!!!!

J&J James: "congratulations, we have made it. unbelievable."

There were a few lodges for climbers to rest and to buy food. We got our hot coffee there. When they saw monkey in the palest pantone color ever, J&J Jelina reached out for her oxygen tank for Monkey.

soon the souns of Darth Vader breathing through the tank was heard...
"coooooooo uhhh....cooooooo uhhh.....coooooooo uhhh"

I soooo wanted to luff at myself LOL!!!!!!

yeah it's was really freezing cold esp with the wind factor.

Yes we made it!!!!!

JS: "I am so proud of u!!!"
Monkey -_-
actually I am proud of myself too. Tee hee hee

We would love to walk around the crater of Mount Fuji but it was just too too freaking cold.

for water to freeze it definitely has to be below zero degrees.

Monkey tailing close behind J&J Jelina to avoid the wind but to no avail.

Hee haa Hee haa time to go down now....it felt like we were in planet mars....

goin down was more difficult than climbing up for all 4 of us.....there's a lot of strain on the hip joint and knee with the constant "braking" to avoid rolling down. I guess the photos didn't really do justice to the steepness....it doesn't even look steep here!!!!!

the Sun was still trying to penetrate through the thick clouds....SUN we need you...please come out and heat our bodies!!!!

becareful and follow the instructions, stray out fr the path and u will be lost!!!

and there's Lake Yamanako
Wished we could just roll all the way down, but we had to zig zag our way down.

now we are talking....this photo really did showed how steep it was.

The rest of the team waited in boredom for Monkey at one of the toilet pit stops.

Where is Monkey???
after 30 minutes wait for JS and 10 minutes wait for J&J.....there she is!!!!

She has gotten so drunk and confused, she even walking zig zagging on the pavement. But hey I learnt this from other climbers, this should be the best way to avoid knee injury, u just zig zag ur way down like a drunkard on the straight road.
after 3 hours of descend.....OMG I couldn't feel my feet anymore!!! and my calves!!! and my thighs!!! but most of all my hip joints were in such pain...what is this????

then I saw my knight in shining armour waiting for me next to the horsie *which I took pic with the day before* LOL!!!! how befitting.....

JS hugged me and said that he's really proud of me before Monkey pushed him away....."U left me alone up there!!! and u stink!!!!"

anyway all of us stink....LOL
in return I got my reward which I've been yearning for hours ago....soft serve ice cream for quick sugar rush into my blood stream.

When I looked up, Mount Fuji looked kinda short and flat....
don't be undermined by her.....it's an illusion that she's easy to conquer but she's not!!!
Thank you to J&J bcoz if they weren't the one climbing....we wouldn't have made this journey and adventure. So which mountain to next?
We then walked to our car with such pride.....we made it!!! we really did....so surreal :))))) after we changed into fresh clothing and got into the car.....everything just went blank...Monkey doze off like a pig as the car took her for some wonderful sight seeing of the Fuji 5 lakes.

that evening, as I soaked inside the hot spring, I looked at Mount Fuji with great admiration.

Thank you for making me even more humble and for conquering the summit. If given another chance with a better weather, would I do it again???? hmmmmm.....never say never.

This would be a memorable adventure of a lifetime :)))

If you are interested in preparing your climb, please refer below's website for more details:


Unknown said...

Banzai!!!! YC, ur endurance paid off!

CHER-RY said...

Thank you Kenny!!! Yes it did :))))

Anonymous said...

well done, Cherry!

This is so inspiring :)

May Ng

CHER-RY said...

Thank you May!!! Yea it was and a beautiful memory to keep :)))

Marcell said...

What a great adventure!