As the Japanese proverb goes, “He who does not climb Mt. Fuji is a fool, but he who climbs Mt. Fuji twice is also a fool.”
Having climbed Japan’s highest peak (3,776 m) previously I vowed at the time, to never return. However I recently broke that vow, why? I hear you cry.... to go off-season with a snowboard on my back.
I have done many stupid & dangerous things in my lifetime, I've swam with crocodiles, piranhas & sharks, caught anacondas, jumped out of a plane and have dated dodgy girls, but this was the craziest thing I've ever done
Ricky & I set off at 4am on less than 2 hours sleep, having camped at Kawaguchiko 5th Station (2,300 meters) at -2c. The snow was approx a foot deep from the start with drifts being in the meters. During our ascent, we experiened all weather types; rain, snow, sunshine & extreme wind. No-one else was on the mountain, just the two of us battling with the weather & terrain. I was cussing the fact that I have heavy Burton snowboard boots, and the snowboard on my back was banging into my legs. We climbed for 5 hours making good time. From around 3,100 meters, our pace slowed, we had to stop every 7 meters to acclimatise and catch our breath. The huts that are open to climbers during the summer, were boarded up, many were buried in snow allowing us to climb over their rooves.
The wind was howling and sounded like pipe music. Such was its strength that at times, we had to just sit tight and bury our heads in our chests. At 3,500 meters I decided it was too dangerous to continue. We had the peak within our sight, but without ice-axes, it was a long way to fall should we have slipped. So we strapped onto our boards and descended through clean snow being careful to avoid rocks, buried huts and avalanches. Apart from smashing my head against a tree during a fall and suffering from severe sunburn & windburn, we both arrived safely back at the 5th station. I am a little disappointed that we didnt make it to the peak, but am happier to be alive for it.