summitting fuji never comes easily. well schedued trips in ideal conditions still demand a big output in serious cold, but over time its possible to unlock the process than makes summitting more probable. so the chance to test pilot a sharper, faster format is always welcome, especially with other motivated climbers.
Mt Fuji in a single day requires serious overlap of strategy, weather conditions, physical capacity and motivation. 2400m of acsent in real cold – done safely – is significant by any standard. more so when weather conditions dont play along.
a 3:30am start with a 1km handicap due to snow blocking the road had us planning for a midday summit window, beating the brunt of the late morning weather pattern that moves in off the ocean most days and is a gamble. extra snow from the previous months record falls added an element of the unknown to what has become one of iceclimbingjapans signature trips.
ahhhh the alpine start: the pre-dawn gear-up at 1200m
there’d been a bit of snow hereabouts…
conditions above the snow line started clear and bright, with hard snow making for fast movement. a streamlined strategy had us carrying little gear, which was a big plus when negotiating the extra snow accumulated on the ledges.
eventually tho the weather caught us. at 3650m – 100m short of the summit. 80kmph winds at -15c meant windchill of about -30c, and at those windspeeds more time is spend immobile, bracing than moving and generating warmth, and the equation starts to crumble. not to mention the fields of glassy ice on Fujis upper flanks than make a (fatal) slide into avalanche chutes very real.
a valiant effort that only affirms the notion that non-summit trips can be more interesting
it doesnt look windy….our high point at 3650m. we had the strategy spot on for a midday summit, but long bouts of bracing on bullet-proof ice foiled the plan