I climbed Mt. Fuji last week. It was terribly fun, but I was also terribly unprepared. I brought too much water, not enough layers, and somehow missed the fact that raincoats are required (or at least strongly suggested).
There are a couple packing lists out there that recommend what you should bring to Mt. Fuji, but a lot of them didn’t explain WHY you should bring the items. So I didn’t trust them. I’m weird.
In any case, if you are like me and are looking for an article on what to bring when you climb Mt. Fuji, look no further. Here is my list:
Things you MUST bring to climb Mt. Fuji
2 – 3 liters of liquids (mixed)
I brought and drank six liters of liquids during my climb to the top of Mt. Fuji. And by “brought,” I mean “my fiance carried for me.” Our guide recommended between 1 and 1.5 liters of liquids for women.
Our guide obviously didn’t understand the magnitude of my drinking problem. My doctor actually told me to drink LESS water and eat MORE salty foods (a diagnosis he has never given before in his life).
My biggest fear was running out of water on the top of the mountain. But don’t worry – they sell water, sports, drinks, and tea at the mountain huts near the summit. Most cost around 500yen for a 500ml bottle which, to be honest, isn’t a bad price. (cheaper than Disneyland)
I recommend bringing two to three liters of mixed liquids (tea, sports drinks, water, and a can or two of coffee).
Somehow I missed the memo that when you climb Mt. Fuji, several of those hours are climbed in the dark. The last three hours are climbed in the dark.
My fiance handed me a headlamp before we went to the mountain and I just laughed. “Why do I need this?” I asked.
He just looked at me. “Didn’t you read the information packet?”
No. No I did not. So bring a headlamp.
Raincoat (and cover for your backpack)
It rains on Mt. Fuji. When we climbed it only rained lightly for about ten minutes. The guide said that was a miracle.
“It normally rains for about an hour,” he told me, smiling. This occurs when you’re climbing through the last layer of clouds. When it starts raining, people just pull out their raincoat, cover up their backpack with extra plastic sheeting, and keep climbing. Most of the raincoats are sports raincoats specifically for climbing mountains, so they are colorful and exciting.
Layers to peel off and pile on
It’s cold at the top. You might be sweating for the first couple hours, but by nightfall, you will need some extra layers.
Ten 100yen coins
Bathrooms on Mt. Fuji cost between 200yen and 300yen. They have to lug the sewage down the mountain, so I understand the cost.
Most of them work on the honor system; others don’t. The summit of Mt. Fuji has a bathroom with an attendant who can give you change; none of the other bathrooms do. If you have a small bladder, bring a large pile of 100yen coins.
It’s cold at the summit. If you do the “normal” thing for the Yoshida trail and hike up to the summit of Mt. Fuji in time to see the sunrise (between 4am and 5am), you will freeze your butt off at the top. There are few places to hide from the wind.
I thought I was going to die. It was legitimately so cold I thought I was going to die on the top of Mt. Fuji.
Food is good. The meals on the mountain huts are miniscule. They sell things like instant ramen and chocolate bars (both wonderfully delicious, but expensive and lacking in that extra “boost”) on the few and far between mountain huts.
Bring a collection of energy drinks, vitamin drinks, and protein bars (I recommend four bars per person).
Things you SHOULD (but don’t have to) bring when climbing Mt. Fuji
Do you know what’s cool about hanging outside for several hours? You get sunburnt. Regardless of whether it is hot or cold, you will get sunburnt. This is especially true if you are climbing above the cloud line (which is nearly the entire climb of Mt. Fuji).
Lather up sunscreen or risk looking like a tomato
Small Oxygen container
This is the easiest way to curb altitude sickness. A couple people in a group suffered pretty horrible altitude sickness, ranging from barfing all over the trail to calling it quits and stopping at one of the many mountain huts.
If you go into a sport store in Japan you can purchase a relatively cheap mini oxygen tank. It looks like one of those annoying airhorns they use at sleepaway camp to wake you up at the ungodly hour of 8am – except instead of dreadful noise it produces delicious oxygen.
You can also buy it at the 5th station on Mt. Fuji, but it is a bit pricey.
Some people don’t like to sleep in their own sweat; some don’t mind. When you do your “overnight” on one of the mountain huts, you might want something not sweaty to change into.
Hats are nice. They keep the sun off your head. They also keep your head warm on the below freezing temperatures at the summit while you wait for the sunrise.
Face mask to keep out the dust
The entire downward path of the Yoshida trail (the most popular, and arguably the easiest path on Mt Fuji) is dust. They also use this route to bring supplies up the cabins via bright yellow trucks with special tread. The dirt makes sense.
But is also gets everywhere.
We were “lucky.” It hadn’t rained in a while, so it wasn’t muddy. When it is muddy, people are slipping and sliding down the mountain (or so I’ve heard). Instead it was dry and dusty…
Dust got everywhere. It got in your eyes (it looks like you’re crying mud for the next couple hours), in your nose (black snot for a day and a half), in your lungs (coughed up a storm the entire way down), in your ears (gross but not painful), and in your clothes.
I saw one super-intense old man wearing goggle to keep the dust out of his eyes – the rest of the “smart” travelers brought the standard white Japanese face mask, similar to the kind that people wear when they are sick. I wish I had one of those masks. My lungs were killing me for the day after climbing the mountain.
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