Mt. Fuji Torture Climb 2013

by Erica Grainger

fuji2013_1“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….”  – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859).  That pretty much sums up our epic adventure climbing Mt. Fuji.   So where and when did this take place, I hear you wondering.   Here are the finer details:

When: Sat/Sun 20th & 21st July
Where:  Mt. Fuji of course!
Who: Too many wonderful people to list!
Why: It seemed like a good idea at the time….but I think some of us are regretting it now.  As Robert James Vidal (Caveman) tells me, “Fuji-san and I aren’t friends anymore.”

10 things I love about Fuji:


1)     “Sunriiise! Sunseeet!” – Erika Ehren

(The absolutely sublime, stunning view from the top! Simply breathtaking….I could go on, but I won’t bore you to tears)

2)     “Most intense physical experience of my life” (but worth every step of it) –Paul Sheen

3)     “Caveman bringing potato salad to eat with Erica’s barbequed body” – Jaime Vogenitz

4)     “Hot charcoal stamps at each station” – Erica Grainger (Although I nearly burnt myself, don’t ask!)

5)     “Glad it didn’t blow it’s load while we were on it” – Paul Sheen

6)     “I’ve gotta pee” – Caveman (the nearest toilets were at the top)

7)     The corn soup at the top was probably the best I’ve ever had” – Natalie Donohue

8)     “Learned to cut the Fuji climb waiting line successfully with the spider monkey technique: go on all fours, be fearless and good luck” – Judy Pan

fuji2013_49)     “We did it, now let’s go home” – Kristyn Atkins (my walking partner, however we stayed on the top for ages, til 5:30am)

10)“The best group of people to climb Fuji with” – Paul Sheen. (I would second that)

10 Things I hate about Fuji

1)     “No man left behind!  Except that one guy we left behind” – Paul Sheen (referring to Caveman’s disappearing act.)

2)     “Getting left for dead by two Eric/kas” – Caveman (it should be noted that Caveman was drooling and delirious when he uttered this)

3)     “Disappointing. I was expecting to kill and eat Erica G at some point and I got to do neither” – Jaime Vogenitz (ah well, there’s always next year….. Jaime’s probably thinking)

4)     “Having human cannibals as so called “friends” (Phillip, Caveman, Jaime)” – Erica Grainger (I suppose this gives new meaning to friends til the end. Although I survived!  I can’t decide if I’m relieved or petrified to have such “friends”. It seems that Fuji-san brings out the cannibal in some people.  Lesson learnt: I will NOT go back to Fuji with Phillip Caveman or Jaime.

fuji2013_25)     “What? There’s still more to go….it seems never-ending!” – Natalie Donohue

6)     “I don’t even care if I don’t make it anymore.  This is where I’m going to die” – Judy Pan

7)     “Stupid blanket shouldn’t tear like that.  Arghhhh!” – Phillip Torricke-Barton
(Phillip at the summit attempting to cover himself while Natalie and Paul try to take a nap)

8)     “The sleepwalking zombie stage for 3.5 hours when you descend Fuji-san and those evil torturous stones and rocks that kept falling into my shoes.  It felt like a descent into madness” – Erica Grainger

9)     “BEES! Aghhhh, the bees, aghhh….” – Caveman (was chased by bees and wasps while walking down the wrong side of Mt. Fuji)

10)“Never again!” – Erika Ehran (the first time she did Mt. Fuji was last year and then Erika climbed it again this year)

Finally, a huge thank you to Erika for being a terrific leader,
– Thank you Judy for your life saving bursts of oxygen,
– Thank you Jaime for not killing & eating me when I was weak and vulnerable
– Thank you Kristyn for being a world-class walking companion
– Thank you Phillip for bringing me stylish gloves
– Thank you Caveman for providing endless entertainment and staying so jolly and brave despite those tough moments and your near death experience!

Thank you to all the people that came on Mt. Fuji that I didn’t mention.  This torturous yet life-changing climb was one of the highlights of my JET experience.  Good luck to all the future climbers, I hope you have as much fun as I did!

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