the asama-yama / fuji-san back-to-back is never easy. its a 2 day exercise in suffering and strategy with no easy way round it. physical condition plays the major role, shared with the weather, but perhaps more than any trip we run your gear choices have a big effect on the outcome
hour after hour of constant ascent in hurtling winds makes every gram count and function matter. unlike the stop-go schedule of ice climbing, asama/fuji is a constant push forward with little time to stop. the clothes and gear you use need to work for this. with 3800m of total gain attempted over 2 days, total weight needs to be as low as possible, but with temps so low and conditions so hostile (-5c to -25c and windchill easily bring things down to -35c) it all needs to be very warm and weather-proof.
clothing needs to be as dynamic as possible with as few superfluous bits as can be done without. approaches can be sweaty, but both routes have sudden emergences above the treeline when things get very cold very fast.
baselayer full sleeved, full legged, hooded, perferably one-piece
trousers tough, leg vents, preferably a bib
mid-layer mid-weight, vented, athletic cut, large pockets, hand pockets
shell jacket full weight, athletic cut, hooded, simple
insulation light exped weight, hooded, generous cut
face protection windproof, full face coverage, glacier rated glasses
boots as warm as possible, doubles preferably
gloves 1 x light and windproof for the approach, 1 x full alpine, 1 x insulated mitts for contingency
carried gear needs to be as light and low profile as possible but generous in design to swallow up gear in the howling gales. often too much is carried or choices are too complicated, meaning that keeping the wheels grinding forward is made harder than it has to be.
pack over-night sized, stripped of lid, waist belt and flapping straps, large snow throat
food glove friendly, 2500kcals per day, salty, freeze-proof
water insulated, sweetened, about 1.5L
tech gear needs to be light and sleek as possible. tho harnesses and helmets are rarely needed for objective matters they are in-place in case of accidents when it would be too late to get them on
crampons light and simple as possible, easy to don in nasty conditions with cold hands
axe light, straight shaft, insulated grip, teathered to harness
harness light, wearable with crampons
head torch +70 lumens, fresh batteries, carried against body
now none of this is very special, but when put together it needs to be streamlined and idiot-proofed as its too cold to stop and fiddle once under way. to nail the strategy demands constant progress just below max hill speed – sustained for up to 12hrs. anything that flaps, doesnt work with big gloves, freezes, demands dexterity, takes unnecessary time or isnt bombproof fast becomes a limiting factor. in trips past weve turned back due to problems that at other times wouldnt take much to solve. a face mask that doesnt cover enough skin, crampons that shift or zip pulls that catch can be just enough to lose the psyche thats needed to keep your head in an already difficult game.
as the hours grind on the inner dialogue needs to be kept bouyant and nailing down gear is one way to control the small window we can. its also our interface with the elements – all of which work against us – and creates the narrow micro-climate that allows us to survive.