Climbing Mt. Fuji — The Summit Shuffle

Subashiri Trail Station 7.5

Time: 1am   Elevation: 3,200m

To read the first part of this series, the ascent, click here!

It’s so much fun to sleep on a rock-hard futon cramped between two other people in a hot room surrounded by snorers 600m in vertical elevation away from the caldera of an active volcano!

Yeah, I didn’t sleep at all.

We ‘woke up’ at 1am, threw on some warmer clothes, and ran outside. I was the first one out, and when I exited, I was shocked to notice a small group of people huddled outside next to the entrance. Apparently, they had spent the night outside. Whether it was a personal choice or because they had expected there to be room at the hut without a reservation I’m not sure, but I did find myself wondering if it would’ve been more comfortable sleeping outside.

The next thing I noticed was the view. There were only a few wisps of clouds below us, granting a gorgeous view of the city lights. I wanted to take a picture, but I knew that my phone camera would’ve only captured how dark it was.

The last thing I noticed was the line of lights above us. Yes, it was 1am and people who had stayed at stations further up the mountain were getting started too, the light from their headlamps snaking up the mountain as they hiked towards the summit for sunrise.

We headed out soon after. We didn’t eat anything, but we did each take an ibuprofen; all of us had headaches. They cleared up once we started moving!

It didn’t take long before I was by myself on the trail. I wasn’t fast enough to be in the front, but I wasn’t as slow as others in the group. It suited me just fine 🙂 I soon lost track of where I was; one foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the other. It was slow but steady progress. Hunter was kind enough to stop and wait for me at junctions in the train. If he hadn’t, I probably would’ve missed a turn off and gotten myself lost!

Eventually, everyone made it to the 8th Station.

At this point, the Subashiri Trail combined with the most popular Yoshida Trail. It’s also the point where our hike to the summit became more like a shuffle. All the lights in the pictures below are peoples’ headlamps!

There were SO. MANY. PEOPLE. At most points on the trail, we trudged side-by-side in two columns. As we got closer to the top and the sun was obviously rising, people started trying to push themselves through the line. It really made me nervous. The trail was steep and rocky, and with only our headlamps to guide us, it made it seem even more likely that someone would trip and fall.


The traffic continued all the way up, and we realized we weren’t going to make it to the summit before sunrise. So we stopped just above the 9th Station. There was a great place to sit and wait for the sun! Of course, once we stopped moving, it got cold. Real cold. I had to put on more layers, and Hunter gave me his gloves to wear! It was totally worth it though; look at that view!

Almost immediately after we got up again to continue to the summit, 1) we got stuck in a huge group of middle schoolers and 2) the clouds moved in and it started to rain. Bordering miserable, we shuffled on.

Finally, we made it! All of us were truly miserable now. The rain wasn’t stopping, we couldn’t see anything, and Hunter and I just really wanted to be down. The other members in our group convinced us to wait it out a bit, so we waited, huddled underneath the overhang of a building.

Once the rain let up a bit, Hunter and I decided to try and do the ohachimeguri, an hour-and-a-half walk around the caldera. While we were walking, the rain stopped and the clouds cleared…

to some great views!

The rocks at the top were both red and black.

About a fourth of the way through our walk, my stomach suddenly started hurting. We’d left our backpacks with our group, so we decided to head back and eat instead of continuing and risk dehydration/altitude sickness.

Couldn’t get enough of the view!

On the way back, the clouds had cleared enough, giving us a great view of the caldera. It still had some snow and ice in it!

The summit station in the distance:


After we rejoined the group, we chilled, I got a shrine stamp, and we forked out some money to eat hot food at a rest house.

I had the ton jiru (pork soup); it was ok, but it got bonus points for being hot. We headed down soon after!

Mt. Fuji Summit (10th Station)

Time: 5:30am   Elevation: 3,775m

Time to reach the summit: ~4 hours

Elevation change: +575m

Distance hiked: ~1km

Categories: AdventuresTags: , , , , , , ,


  1. Wow, awesome post and adventure!


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