Let's take a look at doing this little exercise safely.
Set a slow and steady pace from the beginning. You'll
be amazed at how far you can go without tiring. Watch the Japanese
mountain guides leading one of their groups. Most of these guys
could jog up the mountain backwards without breaking a sweat, but
they putter along at a dead-slow pace practically guaranteeing their
customers a successful ascent.
Make several short rest stops along the way, instead
of just a few long breaks.
Eat or drink a little bit at each rest stop, to keep
up your vitality. Don't stop for a big lunch or dinner. It
will stick in your gut and will probably make you sick (throw up) if
you go right back into the heavy aerobics of the climb.
Use your climbing stick to push and pull yourself up
the steep slopes and to help control your descent. Climbing sticks (kongo-tsue) are available at the
trail starting points, and at some of the huts along
Climb with a friend, in case you develop trouble. A lot of sick,
injured, or incapacitated people have successfully recovered from a
bad situation because they followed this one, simple rule. With this
in mind, if you have (or can borrow) a Japanese cell phone, they
seem to work pretty well in most areas of the mountain. Be sure to
bring a list of emergency contact phone numbers. And make
sure your battery is charged before you get to the mountain.
If you develop altitude sickness, inform your
friend(s) and head back down immediately. Some of the
symptoms that may be felt are: severe headache,
weakness, breathlessness, nausea, and (in extreme
cases) difficulty with coordination. If you think the altitude is making
you sick, descending will make you feel better in a very short time.
You can challenge the mountain again another day.
Stay alert for falling rocks, especially when
descending. If you see any falling rocks, shout "ABUNAI"
(danger), to warn other climbers below you.
In the event of a lightning storm, go to the nearest hut.
If there is no hut nearby, stay as low as possible
and kneel or sit on your pack to help insulate you
from the ground.
Be sure you take the correct trail when
descending the mountain. Be sure to record
the correct name of your starting point before you
begin the climb. Don't just assume it's "the 5th
station." There are at least four 5th
stations on different parts of the mountain. Ask
someone who works on the mountain for directions to
the correct descending trail when you decide to come
down. Other hikers, even among our Japanese friends,
may be just as confused as you. See my Links
page for a scan of an excellent trail map.
DO NOT drink too much water at one time. Make
it last. You will need less water for the descent, as the work is
less aerobic, but try to save some just the same. You can also bring
extra water to keep in your vehicle or coin locker, and use that to
help rehydrate yourself after your climb.
DO NOT drink any alcohol before or during your
climb. If you stop for an overnight rest, a beer or
two might be OK, but stay away from the hard liquor
until after the climb.
DO NOT keep staring at your destination. It
may make you feel as if you're not making any
progress. Besides, the top of the mountain is not visible from
most points along the trail.
In the event of a lightning storm, DO NOT grab any chains along
the trail (when lightning occurs) and do not lean against any of the
metal retaining walls or landslide barriers.
DO NOT STRAY FROM THE CLIMBING PATH. THE TRAIL IS
MARKED FOR YOUR SAFETY.
NEVER throw rocks or cut switchbacks. Doing so
may start a rockslide. Many people have been injured or killed by falling rocks.
NEVER run down the mountain. You may seriously
injure yourself. (Like the guy who cart wheeled off the end of the
trail in August 2001, near the top, and had to be hauled
off to a local hospital. It was NOT a pretty sight!)
NEVER litter the mountain. Take your trash with you when it's time to leave the mountain.
Please preserve the fragile ecology of Mt. Fuji.
DO NOT feel bad if you have to call it quits, for any reason,
before you reach the top.