Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I joined the climbers from Msia at Shinjuku train station, the west exit. Aini, my host, was kind enough to be with me. We met and exchanged greetings and names. Most of the people in the group are in their 20ish, a fistful in their 30ish and a couple in their 40ish. I, without saying, am the oldest of the group.
I introduced myself as Kak lela and one of the ladies questioned me to the title Kak on me. She felt she is entitled for the Kak calling in the group, I told her my age, straight up and she was like open-mouthed staring at me.
We left the inn and took the bus up to the 5th station. There we bought post-cards, climbing sticks for yen 1000 and took lots of snaps. Its like a carnival over there, lots of sight-seers, climbers, picnikers or just strollers.
The air was at 23c, gust of strong winds and foggy. Some of the Msian climbers were already feeling the chills and started to add on some layers of clothings.
We made our safety doa and I adding some of my personal doa as I start to walk on the path.
The ground was gradually sloping, with lots of flowers and small plants in between the volcanic rocks. We started our slow walks at 11.35am from the 5th station (2305m) and the estimation time to reach the 6th station(2390m) is 45 min, but we made it at 50 mins...considering good for me.
We took 10 mins rest at the 6th station and started our slow walk at 12.35pm for the 7th station(2700m). The estimation time was 60 mins but we took 1.25 mins to reach the 7th station. The vegetation between 6th to 7th station was lesser and the trails was mostly loose volcanic, black sand. The slope was still manageable but I have to stop every 10 steps to take some deep breath. My heart was bumping like doing the aerobic steps.
We reached the 7th station (2700m) at 2pm and rest for 30 mins. I have to make myself go to the toilet. I felt my urinary bladder so full and heavy but I cannot let it out. The toilet cost yen 100 per entry and there is no water to wash. I have to take with me wet tissue paper for the cleaning. Then, every toilet is uni-sex. The males do their thing in front and we ladies have to pass them by to enter our cubicle. Some Msian men cannot do it in public and they used the cubicle for privacy.
The toilet stank beyond description, the smell would stay on your clothes for quiet sometime.
For stamina drinks or pet-bottle water of 500ml, it cost 5 times more. On ground level, it normally cost yen 100 but here on Fujisan the higher you go, the higher the water cost, which comes at yen 500 per 500ml pet-bottle.
There were 6 resting huts at every interval from the 7th station. These huts provide drinks or hot instant soup and toilets facilities.
From halfway through the 7th station, I felt I need to use the portable oxygen. My breathing was swallow and short. Every steps I took was breathless. I had to stop for breathing every 10 steps. There was this guy, Muzzafar who helped me with counting my steps and telling me to breath every now and then. I tend to get away with long steps and forgetting to stop for my regular big air.
The approximate time from 6th to 7th station is 100 min but we took 180 mins. Extra 80 mins because we stopped many times for breathing rest by the side walk. The trail was getting narrower as we go higher. At some points, only one person can passed through and we had to wait in queue. It is recorded that between July and August of the year, about 3000 people climb Fujisan daily. So imagine the bottle-neck at some rocks.
We reached the 8th station (3020m) at 5.10pm. The leader of JALPAK, sdr Azhar had booked bunker rest at Taishi-kan Hut. All of us are given a single space of 1m by 2m side by side for 15 people. We cannot stand, the bunkers are only for sleeping.
Again no water for washing, for toilet we have to queue outside with the rest of the crowd and pay for every entry at yen 200.
We rest for 6 hours at these sleeping bunkers from 5.10 pm to mid-night. I can hear the winds howling outside. The temperature was below 0c. We we given a sleeping-bag and a square bean bag for pillow, thats all. We were not allowed to eat at the bunker but I bit slowly on energy bars, stamina liquid and a ball of white rice that I brough with me. Just before getting ready to walk again, I went outside to the toilet, I saw some people standing and shivering in the cold gusty winds. Lots of space and empty bunkers and they don't booked to stay inside. The hut is a private enterprise and the management closed the doors to people who don't pay for the warmth inside. I really symphatized those people standing in the cold strong winds and felt strong ache to how those people managing the hut have hearts enough to let people stays outside in the cold.
Anyway, after the sleep and rest for 6 hours, we started our walk again at mid-night 12.15am in the dark. We were well-clothed, thick winter clothing, gloves, caps and head-light or touchlight. It is dark and the trail is for one person only. So, you can see the lights moving on the mountain as people moved along the trails. There is no public light to light up the trails. Here, no matter what happened, you have to go up. Not down because they is no way down. At some point, human jam would cause the queue to wait for some 5 mins. There is no more loose sand from 8th station. Only rocks and big stones. There is no proper stepping stones...you have to find a good space to put your tired feet to walk on in the dark. One of the girls who joined our group from Las Vegas, she is a Hawaiian dancer and she cried from the 8th station. She was cold and very tired. There is no medic here as well. If you throw up, you just sit on the side and rest. Then walk up not down. The things is, nothing goes down at this point...everything points up and up.
I looked up and serched for the sight of the peak, can't see anything in the fog. I just moved, carried my legs, counting 10 steps.
What in my head, in my head...zombie...I was walking like a breathless zombie. I can't speak, too tired. Have to preserve all energy for the steps upwards. The air was getting thinner. I have to breath the portable oxygen a few times.
My urine bladder felt so heavy, like its coming out of my body but weird thing is, there is no urine!
My heart was beating 10 times faster than normal. Wow, people with high blood pressure, never ever think of climbing any mountains.
The sunrise was at 5 am. At this time, we were still climbing in the fog. Still can't see ahead. Visibility was like 5m. Of course, we can't see the sunrise at all. The winds was so strong, it was like a small typhoon. We couldn't stand straight, else the winds will blow us towards the edge of the one-line stone path. I was now crawling on my two hands, grabbing for something strong to step on.
The at 5.25am, I heard some people in the crowd ahead of us shouting "banzai, banzai"
are we there yet? are we at the summit already?
I reached a level ground and saw the only person sitting there calling my name...
"kak lela", Norhayati called me.
She was alone...waiting for the rest to reach.
She is the first person to reach the summit and I am the second to come.
Kak lela kita dah sampai, she said...
Oh ye ke? me, breathless...
We have reached the peak of FujiSan at 3776m at 5.25am on August 24, 2007.
I looked around, everybody was smiling, excruciatingly feeling on top of the world. Some people went in the shops to have warm breakfast, some went it to stamp their walking sticks, it was like a big fun-fair there.
I collected stamps on my walking stick at every station, each stamp cost yen200. We waited for the rest of the group climbers to reach and they spread MYJICA and Jalur Gemilang for the success climb.
I will write another entry for the descending journey...