The day began at Higashi Tagonora station, where we met our fellow
Masochists and headed down to Tagonoura beach to collect seawater, which we would pour on the sumiit of Mt. Fuji, upon completion of our task. The first part of the challenge was to trek 46km to the fifth base station of Mt.Fuji (2700m altitude), and having set off from sea-levelat 06:30, the idea was to arrive there for 19:00 so that we could have a couple of hours sleep before we attempted to climb to the summit. I managed to achieve this feat in a barely believable 10 1/2 hours, leading the organizer to refer to me as ‘being like a gazelle.’ If Mr.Holdwsorth, my secondary school PE teacher, had heard this, he would have had to have a lie down, and then accused me of identity theft.
We began the climb for the summit at 21:00, with the idea being that we would reach it in time for sunrise. Whilst the climb was difficult it was definitely doable, and I was amazed that I didn’t suffer from any of the effects of altitude sickness, although at one point I did genuinely believe that I was going to die from the cold. Even though I had plenty of layers I had lost my gloves, and so had to make do with the only thing that was available for sale: a doubled-up pair of gardening gloves. Surprisingly at altitudes in excess of 3500m (Mt Fuji’s peak is 3776m) they didn’t quite cut the mustard, and so the only option I had was to warm my hands on one of the portable toilet generators, until I got busted. Somehow I made it through the night, and onwards to the summit for sunrise. 53km, 3768m, over 7000 calories burned (the equivalent of almost three marathons), and a borderline dose of hypothermia were all washed away by the sun’s enchanting rays, as they basked the cloudscape in a cacophony of colour. We had done it, and it felt bloody great! Although, such euphoria was almost certainly enhanced by severe sleep deprivation.