Climbing Mt. Fuji is an experience of extremes. From the sheer height, the lack of oxygen, the cold weather, to the ungodly hours, it’s no wonder Japanese people say only a fool climbs Mt. Fuji twice. But you also get incredible views of Japan and the ocean, exhilarating adrenaline rushes, immense pride, and a once-in-a-lifetime experiences that will stay in your memory for years to come.
Climbing Mt. Fuji is not something to take lightly. It takes serious planning and preparation. You need to keep an eye on the weather and be ready for split-second changes in plans. I’ll admit, I didn’t prepare enough when I climbed Mt. Fuji. This post is about the dos and don’ts for climbing Mt. Fuji based on my mistakes and unwise choices. This post is part of my three-part series on climbing Mt. Fuji. For the other two posts, click here:
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a sherpa or any kind of Mt. Fuji expert. This post is based on my personal experience and should not be taken as a definitive guide. Do your own research and know your body before climbing Mt. Fuji.
The dos and don’ts of climbing Mt. Fuji
I cannot stress enough how important it is to plan well for a climb up Mt. Fuji. I consider myself physically fit and active, and I found it challenging. If you are not in great shape and don’t regularly workout, you will have your work cut out for you.
1 DO check the weather
You will be unable to climb in rain, wind, or cloud, so check the weather before you begin your journey to the mountain. Be prepared to change your plans if possible, otherwise if the weather is poor you may have to cancel your plans completely.
Even if you don’t prepare well in other areas, having bad weather could break your experience. I’m fully aware that I didn’t prepare as well as I should have, and I’m thankful the weather was perfect. If the weather was bad, my poor planning would likely have made for a terrible experience.
2 DO wear warm, windproof, rain clothes
While summers in Japan are hot, the top of Mt. Fuji is cold. It’s like winter during the night, and it could even snow on a bad day. Having the proper clothes could mean the difference between catching hypothermia or not. I’m glad I decided to bring my down winter coat and toque.
3 DON’T wear jeans
I did this. I don’t really have hiking pants, and I didn’t feel like buying any. So I wore jeans. They weren’t awful, but remember, I had great weather. jeans will not be fun if it starts raining. My legs were cold during the early morning hike, but at least they were dry.
4 DONT wear Converse
I did this too, because I guess I’m just that stupid. This was probably my stupidest mistake. Like hiking pants, I didn’t feel like shelling out $100 for hiking boots. So Converse it was.
Converse are a bad choice for many reasons. They are not strong, so you will feel all the little rocks poking your feet. The have no ankle support. They have holes in them, so your feet will get dusty. They’re not warm at all. And they are not strong material. By the time I reached the bottom, my shoes were ripped to shreds and my feet were aching. There were holes straight through the bottoms.
5 DO bring enough water
I thought 2L would be enough for one person, but it wasn’t If I could do it again, I would bring 4L of water. Rest areas are few and far between, and Mt. Fuji is not a pleasant place to be dehydrated. You can buy water at rest areas, which I had to do, but it’s expensive. I recommend just bringing 4L instead.
6 DON’T drink beer
At least, I think you shouldn’t do this. The air is so thin close to the top, wouldn’t drinking make you feel sick or extra hungover? I saw people doing this, but combined with the altitude this didn’t seem like a good idea to me…
7 DO give yourself plenty of time
The hike will probably take longer than you think it will. Leave early enough in the day until you plan to reach your next destination. The trails all have estimated hiking times, but you might want to shoot for the longer time.
8 DON’T rush
I always see “estimated hiking times” as a challenge and try and beat the time. This isn’t a good idea because it will tire you out much quicker. Give yourself time and take it slowly up the mountain going at a pace you feel most comfortable. Don’t feel bad about taking breaks and sitting down to rest as you adjust to the altitude.
9 DO bring food
There are hot meals at the huts, but they are expensive and I don’t remember it being huge. But they are far apart, and you will need energy in between huts. I recommend things like energy bars, trail mix, apples, and rice balls.
You might also want to bring a few bottles of sports drinks, since you will be sweating a lot. Sports drinks have electrolytes–it’s what your body craves. …Anybody get that reference?
10 DO bring oxygen, but DON’T rely on it
I brought a small tank of oxygen and used it once in the morning when I had a pounding headache, racing heart, and nausea. That’s altitude sickness for ya. My husband used it a few more times climbing up to the summit. In my experience, having oxygen is a good thing to have, even if you don’t end up using it. It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
But on that note, don’t rely on it. Use it when you need it, but don’t rely on it. I don’t know actually know if it’s bad for you, but I see it as a crutch if you rely on it. But that’s just me.
11 DO bring a great friend and hiking buddy
I’m sure people do go alone, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. People die on Mt. Fuji, and being alone increases the chance that no one is watching out for you. A good friend and hiking buddy will encourage you, support you, and be a companion who will share in your struggles. They’ll also make sure you feel okay and are able to continue. You should also do the same for them.
My husband and I went together, so I pretty much had the bestest super friend and hiking buddy anyone could ask for. 🙂 A good friend will help you see the positive in the experience, and it will be a bonding experience. You’ll be able to look back on that time together as a great moment you shared. My husband and I still have happy memories when we talk about climbing Mt. Fuji.
Takeaways: Dos and Don’ts of climbing Mt. Fuji
To bring everything together:
- Do check the weather
- Do wear warm, windproof, rainproof clothes
- Do be ready to change your plans
- Do bring water and food
- Do give yourself plenty of time to hike
- Do bring oxygen
- Do go with a great friend
- Don’t wear jeans
- Don’t wear Converse
- Don’t drink beer
- Don’t rush
- Don’t rely on oxygen
I’ve gone ahead and made some of these mistakes for you, so now you don’t have to. I hope this post has helped you get a better idea of how you should prepare for climbing Mt. Fuji and what you should and shouldn’t do. For a climbing guide checklist, sign up here to download: