During the winter months the management of Gogoen (5th Station) Rest House (on the Kawaguchiko Route) posts a large signboard of recommendations and precautions (in English) for off-season climbers. My posting of this information does not in any way indicate my support for winter climbing on Fuji. I firmly believe that is extremely dangerous, and should not be attempted casually. This information is presented as special safety precautions and should be heeded as such.
Gogoen Rest House is often open during less severe weather conditions, as late as November and as early as April, as long as the Fuji Subaru Line highway is clear. I have taken the liberty of editing the original text for clarity where I deemed necessary. My personal comments (should) appear in dark blue.
Mountaineering training in the winter season is [recommended] to be done at the 6th Station under an experienced climber. Training at elevations higher than the 8th Station often involves great risk.
A fall usually occurs from losing one's balance, and is often caused by insufficient sleep and overwork. Many climbers, arriving by night train or overnight driving, need a long rest before starting the ascent of the mountain.
Make sure your [winter climbing] equipment is in perfect condition. The winter season starts in October and ends the following May. Climbing with light equipment in winter is considered nothing but a suicidal act. (ed.: my sentiments, exactly.)
Avoid the sheer cliff route, unless you are an experienced climber. (ed.: the reference here is to take the bulldozer route to ascend, instead of the more direct route up the sometimes-sheer ridge. The bulldozer route is normally the descending route during the regular climbing season. The junction of the two routes is just beyond the Anagoya hut in the 6th Station on the Kawaguchiko Route.)
A terrific gust [of wind] often overtakes you three times consecutively [rapid succession]. Keep yourself lying flat on the slope until it has completely blown over. Danger comes soonest when it's despised. (ed.: Not to be taken lightly. I have a few newspaper clippings reporting the deaths of people who have been blown off the mountain, perhaps due to lack of caution, during winter climbs.)
In case bad weather should develop, such as storm, rain, snow or dense fog, avoid climbing higher than the 5th Station. When the weather breaks suddenly, give up at the half-way point and return down the mountain immediately. (ed.: At first glance, this may not make sense. Keep in mind that any roads leading to the 5th Station may be closed during the winter, and climbers may have to start from the base of the mountain. In this case, the 5th Station IS the half-way point.)
Danger of snowslide often follows rain and fresh snow. Pay special attention to the weather forecast. (ed.: Unless you are fluent in Japanese, or have a Japanese friend, it's not easy to get a weather forecast for Fuji in winter. Try calling or visiting the Fuji Visitor's Center in Kawaguchiko Town.)
All mountain huts except Sato's [Satogoya - usually open all year round] and Gogoen Rest House [usually open through November] at the 5th Station are closed in the winter season. Obtain full information from the persons concerned. (ed.: I think what they're trying to say here, is that anyone attempting a climb in winter ("the persons concerned") should report the plan ("full information") for their activities to the operators of one of these huts.
Be sure to submit a climber card and take out a mountain [climbing] insurance. (ed.: Please Note - I'm only presenting here what the folks at the 5th Station Rest House are trying to put out. The reality is...the climber's card concept fizzled out some years back. But the idea is still good. TELL someone your exact plans and itinerary before you attempt ANY activity on the mountain in winter. And WHY NOT inquire to your favorite local insurance agency if they can write a short term policy to cover accidental death, or hospitalization due to injury, as a result of this activity. Do you have any idea how much a mountain rescue (attempt) costs, or how much the medical bills might be if you are injured? If you don't have insurance, are you prepared to pay in cash? That's the way Japanese hospitals work. No discharge until a cash payment is made or insurance information is provided and confirmed.)
Before you get to the mountain, have your gear checked at the
Fujiyoshida Organization for the Prevention of Mountain Accidents
Fujiyoshida Branch, Fujiyoshida Police Station
Ph. 0555-22-3215 or 3216 or 3217
Some additional information about winter climbing is available on my FAQs page (link below.)
Introduction / Facts & Other Information / Preparation / Safety Precautions
Health Tips / FAQs / Quotable Quotes / Winter / Links / My Info Page