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.
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.
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 or two of basic ice climbing before hand – it may make the difference between summitting or not. if this sounds like you, iceclimbingjapan offers a discount for booking a preparation session and Mt Fuji trip together.
fuji faq here
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.