5/24/2012

What Happens on Fuji... Might Just Kill You: Part 2

An interesting thing happened back in New Zealand, when I was kayaking Milford Sound. There is a daily phenomenon there known as The Day Breeze. As the sun rises, it heats up the granite rock that forms the fjord. This generates a cycling effect. The hotter the sun, the harder the once cool arctic water churns. It's rather counter intuitive. The nicer the day, the worse the waves are.
The morning I set out, unaware of The Breeze, there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and even in the early morning, the sun was scorching. Needless to say, I soon found out about it. I had beached my kayak in a gorgeous cove, gone for a swim, had lunch, and was approaching the mouth to the main part of the sound when I noticed the waves. 25-30 Knots. A churning torrent.
The Waterfall at The Sound

I was in a Minnow (and yes, the name aptly describes the vessel's size) with no splash guard. As I sat in the estuary between my calm, placid cove and the death trap that lay before me, a tour boat, carrying over 100 paying customers, turned hard to its port side. At first, I thought they did not see me and that I was at risk of being run over. 
This was not the case. The boat had completely turned on itself and come to a stop. 
The Captain walked along the broad side of the ship that now faced me, paused, and then shouted, "ARE YOU GOING ANY FURTHER?"
I replied, "PROBABLY... well... NO! I THINK I'LL WAIT FOR IT TO DIE DOWN." In agreeance, The Captain proclaimed, "GOOD! IT'S ALMOST 30 KNOTS OUT THERE. IT WON'T SETTLE UNTIL AFTER DARK."
"OK." I shouted back.
All of the tourists look were completely baffled by this exchange. It the captain seemed to tun to leave and then added, "I'M SENDING A BOAT TO PICK YOU UP. STAY WHERE YOU ARE."
At this I paused. I had my head lamp and enough supplies to stay the night, if need be. I didn't need to be rescued. I got myself out here; with patience, I could get my self back. That night or the next morning, I knew I could do it...
"OK!" I shouted again.
And I took the ride in.

I've have no ego about how I get places: planes, trains, automobiles, and often times my own two feet. Whatever comes my way, as long as it's safe (and hopefully free). I've never been a cat stuck in a tree, in need of the fire brigade, but if someone is generous enough to offer me a helping hand, it does not dent my pride in the slightest to accept it, if I see fit. 
And that is why I ended up decending Mt. Fuji dressed in a giant blue diaper:

The path to Station 6 was almost completely free of snow, but from there it really started to become a treck. With a trusty walking stick, a la the side of the trail, I made it up to station 7 with relative ease. The final haul up to station 8 was exactly that. Halfway up the last snow covered slope, my body started to fatigue. It was quitting time, and I knew it. The muscles in my arms and leggs were spent and my focus grew weary. Up is easier than down, but that fact made it no less of a struggle to climb the final embankment as the sun set behind me.
As I slid onto the first platform of section 8, the second to last tier of the mountain just a short climb from the summit, I saw a tent, dug into the snow bank. Enter Mr. And Mrs. Fantastic (there is no name more fitting). 
As I readied my tarp tent, they not only lent me their shovel and ice axe to build a snow den, but they also helped. As if that wasnt enough, they then brought me warm tea as I finished setting up. Mr. Fantastic even held the light for me as I got all snugglie in my cave, and then, he tucked me in with a thermos of hot water. The entire time, all I could think was, "Who are these people?"
Yes, please!

I had my alarm set for 3 AM. As previously noted, I was planning to hike to the summit in the early morning to watch the sunrise from the summit... not so fast. That "some snow" was coming down fast. I decided to stay in my warm den.
My second alarm went off around six, for the eclipse, and and "some snow" had now become a total white out. The sun had risen at around 04:30, but I could barely see anything outside of my tent. I could deal with missing the sunrise, I could stomach squandering the eclipse, but this... this could be deadly.

When the eclipse was suppose to be near full mass, I finally emerged from my cave. With a message for the Fantastics. I had enough supplies to stay another few nights on the mountain, but a snow storm, that would be rather unpleasant to sit through, was brewing. Given my tools and the conditions though, I did not feel safe going down the mountain alone.
Luckily, The Fantastics were willing to let me join their decent. The dissapointment that I wouldn't summit or even really see the eclipse was lessoned by their offer to let me into their warm tent, after I packed up. As I ate my cold SPAM and banana chip breakfast, they reheated some of their yummy mash potatoe corn stuff and more tea for me. "I love these people!" I thought as the hot food and drink hit my belly. 
And then it was time.

They lent me a tecking pole to start. My foot slipped after my first step off of the platform. 
We then tried an ice axe. This worked pretty well, but we we're slow moving and constantly switched directions to try and find the least steep route. Every step I took, they had to cut out for me, with the other ice axe. It was a tiring and tedious process. 

I imaged they'd get fed up at some point and just leave me there to hack my own way down the mountain. I was a liablity for them, as the storm gradually moved down the mountain.
At one point, I thought they might even try and belay me down to save time. They had the climbing equipment to do so, but the white out was completely opaque at 5 meters. There was no way for them to see where they were lowering me.
Eventually, we stumbled (quite literally) upon the golden ticket, The:
In essence, it was a controlled fall down the mountain that resulted in a wedgy so severe I thought Fuji was trying to sodamise me. But it work well, very well. 
Eventually, we fashioned what can only be described as a giant blue diaper (pictured above). This alleviated the wedgie, a lot of the friction, and actually made it fun. Fuji-san was now a giant, natural Slip'n Slide. 
With this new technice perfected, we quickly made our way to station 6 (snow free) with ease, and I was actually giggly at the bottom, from the last big slide.

I huge thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Fantastic, and the rest of the gang from this adventure. 
If you enjoyed this post and the previous one, you should checkout my book on KICKSTARTER, The Hitchhikers Guide to: Earth.



Categories: , , , , , ,

Location: Mt Fuji, Kitayama, Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan

2 comments:

  1. Glad you made it down safe son. Enough of these adventures will make a great book. At Paris Mountain and missing you this weekend for Squeaks graduation. Love you. A real picture of you in a blue diaper is a must for the book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm, a good book. Have fun camping, though.
      I don't think you'll need crampons or an ice axe, haha.

      Delete

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