left 5th Station around 1300. Bright sunny and clear day. Reddish slope of Fuji visible. At the base green tree belt but disappeared later. Flora changed to short shrubs and sparse.Trail zig- zagged uphill. Several huts, clingged to the slope.Trail, just barren volcanic rocks. Sun set behind Fuji. In shadow, temperature dropped. Reached Stn 8, Hakunsoo Hut at 3000m around 1700. Rest, eat and Sleep. Good walk, all three in good condition.
left Hakunsoo Hut at Station 8 around 0130. Other trekkers, all Japanese + 1, around 20 had just left. Pitch dark and icy cold. Slight wind. Only light from head lamps. Trail clear to follow but uneven. Volcanic rocks. At times crawling on all fours. Navindd resilient. Aware of altitude sickness. Some trekkers struggling to breath. Nearly collapsed. Ropes and chains at places. Sometimes vertical climb. Footing need to be good. Uneven rocks. Smooth rocks and slippery. Slightly bright below clouds. Crossed red torii at Stn 9. No idea of time. Pressed on. Navind in good condition, Lee Cheng and I managed slowly but surely. Sight of white torii.
“You can’t see the mountain when you are on it. Just the unpredictable clouds, rough and uneven rocks and sometimes boulders, steep terrain, fatigue and relentless icy wind, breathlessness, and for good measure altitude. I loved every moment of it”.
Arrived at the summit, just past the white torii, around 0430. Clear but icy cold wind. Explore 10th Station – Buildings shut. Vending machine! Temple. Walked up to the crater rim. Not highest but highest point 3776m. Clouds bright but sun still below. Heavy mist descended and receded continuously. Hands freezing even with gloves. Crater visible, merely 30 seconds and vanished. The horizon changed hue, colour and brightness constantly.
Finally, the sun emerged above the blue clouds – Goraikō, lasted less than 3 minutes. Cheers of joy. Weather turned, darkened clouds. Descended to the base. Family photo blurred by dense clouds that immediately burst into a hailstorm. Haste retreat downhill. Trail slippery at places. On fours at times. Pelted with ice and ferocious wind for over an hour. Well protected with our gear. Only faces exposed. One hut shutting down was open. Hot milo and shattering windows. Storm stopped, bright sunny and clear day. Path, terrain and vegetation now detailed. Tree line visible. Moon just set behind Fuji. Good walk to 5th Station. Kudos to Lee Cheng and Navindd. Proud day for us.