Only a fool has never climbed Fuji; only a fool climbs it twice!
Yes, I have to admit that this was my second ascent of Fuji, although I climbed a different, and more difficult, route this time.
Like most people, we started at the 5th stage. There are 10 stages in total so the 5th stage is about half way up. When reading about Fuji and studying the illustrated route maps you are led to believe that stages are well defined goals that you can use to measure your progress up the mountain. This would be encouraging, but it is not the reality. It seems that the illustrated stages are useful in the same way as Bohr’s model of electron shells is useful in explaining atomic spectra.
Unfortunatly the stages, like electrons, actually occur in density clouds. We reached the first hut claiming to be stage 7, happy with our simple Bohr model of Fuji. We continued our climb for many minutes to be greeted by another hut claiming to be stage 7, but we ignored this as a simple experimental error. After repeating this experience three more time, I was crying for Heisenberg and Schrodinger. Since the stage position uncertainty was so large, I was imagining beyond hope that Planck’s constant was larger on Fuji than elsewhere in the universe, and we might tunnel to the top at any moment.
At one of the many 8th stages we encountered we stopped to watch the sunrise. Then the weather turned bad, but we had to press on as we didn’t want to descend on our current path. When we eventually reached the top, the crater was covered with cloud and filled with a small but powerful storm. Margaret was displaying all the signs of hypothermia. We decided to make a hasty descent, influenced slightly by the nice man who announced that anyone still in the crater at 07:30 would have to stay for the day because of the worsening weather.
The storm had one final statement to make: it didn’t like my cheap raincoat, so it whipped up some small volcanic pebbles and totally shredded my coat around me, leaving me surprised but completly unscathed.
Things continued to go wrong, but we all arrived safely, 6 hours late, back at the Ryokan.