Mt FUJI

whilst not strictly ice climbing*, ascending Mt Fuji in winter fascinates a lot of people.

yes, its a way to escape the crowds, but Mt Fuji is also a serious ascent not that different to bigger peaks elsewhere.

TRIP COMPARISON CHART

mt fuji winter climbing summit

Mt Fuji summit: part alpine ascent, part pilgrimage, Mt Fuji is a beguiling winter objective. summitting is far from guaranteed, requiring 2300m of gain in a single push, often with a night spent high and in harsh conditions. the image above details the necessary gear: double boots, ice axes, alpine shells, face protection, glacier glasses, light harnesses and helmets.

with the right gear and physical capacity summitting Mt Fuji in winter is entirely possible. but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. with the huts and stations long closed since tourist season, the ascent is long and unsupported with as much vertical gain as many other peaks in higher ranges of the world.

along with the regular route we do ‘off-grid’ trips that above the tree line dont follow the usual developed trail. this style is for experienced climbers only as it covers mixed alpine terrain for over 1000m, at times requiring basic rope skills.

what you need to know

Mt Fuji is not a technical ascent, but it is a strategic one, and is ideal for training and/or testing gear for Himalayan style peaks. winter ascents are done ‘push-style’, starting at the first station and aiming to summit with a single upward effort usually with a single night on the mountain. this is to streamline logistics and give options with the current conditions.  ascent and descent is done in one long trip as  it’s too cold up there to stay more than just one night. rests are taken along the way, but the ability to move for several hours at a time is key.

summitting is not guaranteed. signing onto this trip is an opportunity at the attempt. with safety as the number 1 factor be aware that success means getting back to base – not the top. an attempt may be aborted due to conditions that threaten the safety of the descent.

whilst not technical, climbing Mt Fuji in winter still requires real alpine climbing skills: covering steep ground for long hours, walking in crampons, using an ice axe, carrying a pack, manipulating your clothing to suit the conditions. the slopes of Mt Fuji at – 20c are NOT the place to learn these things. though not rocket surgery, if you are not dialled in with these skills consider doing a day ascent of Asama Yama before hand – it may make the difference between summitting or not. if this sounds like you, iceclimbingjapan offers a discount for booking both trips together.

fuji faq here

winter climbing mt fuji ascent guided

when everything around is snow and ice your perspective changes: climbing in winter in places like Mt Fuji requires the right gear, attitude and conditions to make it work.

conditions – yours and the mountains

winter conditions on Fuji are regularly down to -30c with winds up to 95kmph or higher, meaning windchill of around -45c. the closest artificial warmth is the taxi that will pick us up from the first station at 1450m. a good day on fuji in winter is considered one where winds are below 50kmph and temps around -18c.

Mt Fuji has enough altitude gain for some people to feel it. if you haven’t been to high altitude before, the effects may come as a surprise, and whilst not usually dramatic, dont expect things to be the same as at sea level. a mild grogginess, slight shortness of breath and tiring a bit faster can be noticable for some beyond around the 2500m mark. combined with the cold and long effort, it adds to the capacity required for the trip.  if this or other risks concerns you then talk with a physician before. its worth noting we aim to spend the night at about 3450m, which is quite a lot of gain directly from sea level.

a winter trip up Mt Fuji requires sufficient hydration and nutrition. you will be on the go at cold temperatures for a long time, consuming up to 5000kcals in a 24hr period. a few bars of chocolate and a bottle of cola won’t do it – leaving you open to conditions as serious as hypothermia and frost bite. winter nights are long, often with the winds picking up, meaning you may be stationary in a tent for 10hrs or more. without sufficient calories it can be a long, cold experience. when preparing food for Mt Fuji its worth noting that water comes from melting snow and that gas stoves dont burn as efficiently up high in the cold – meaning instant food, and food that requires little or no heating is a better bet.

*there actually is ice – not on Fuji but in it, within  the 200m deep volcanic caldera on top. trips to climb this run only early in the season on special request.

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