Fresh off the plane and on our way through customs, we stopped and stared at a poster of Mt Fuji. We were still wearing the Variant 37 ski mountaineering packs we’d crammed into the overhead compartments to avoid extra baggage fees. The stewardess first thought we were participants in “The Amazing Race,” but now with Mt Fuji in front of us, the method to our madness was being revealed. Nevertheless, her comments boosted my motivation for what lay ahead.
The bus system in the area is efficient when you know what to ask for. We hopped on the bus to Shinjinku en route to Fuji, where we hit a logistics roadblock when we were told ‘no bus to Fuji or climbing’. After scrambling around Shinjinku for alternatives, my brother asked the same people the same questions and sure enough – there was a bus to Fuji that evening. Oh, traveling and language barriers.When got where we needed to be, found a hostel, and lined up a 10am departure for Fuji… just to add to the challenge.
Mt Fuji is known as the most visited mountain in the world, with some 300,000 climbers and hikers each year. We met plenty along the way. The Germans were skeptical about our summit bid, and I wasn’t giving us very good odds either with a late start and clouds hovering on the mountain.
The backpackers blasted off the bus with their running shoes and cotton t-shirts, while we stood with our gear perfectly prepped for departure at the back door. The jammed back door. Waiting for each and every hiker to unload through the front. Not your usual start to a mountain wilderness experience.
We got on the move, and traversed to a sign that detailed a complete ’14 step how-to guide to the summit’. Good to see we were on the right side of the mountain and off to a good start.
Once we hit snowline it was go time and we could safely abandon the signed route and do things the old-fashioned way. Up, up and away, past the T-shirt and running shoe crews.
As I was cresting the crater, a couple of Japanese climbers looked at me from above. No crampons, eh! A couple sporty front point ice moves with no gloves did the trick.
But the true summit was the highest point of the crest, not where we were standing. After some debate with the Japanese about traveling by rock or snow, we of course chose snow. We’re from the Coast after all, and snow travel is always faster. So we wished luck to the rock walkers and sprint skinned to the summit to avoid the impending whiteout.
We’d bagged the summit, but the Amazing Race was far from over. We had a plane to catch. We dropped off the summit and skied epic corn on the 40 degree SE Face, one eye on the snow, one eye on the watch.
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Story: Andy Traslin
As climbers, mountaineers, skiers, hikers, paddlers and cyclists, we spend our days searching for the path less traveled. The enticement of exploration and adventure is what drives us to seek out secluded peaks and uncharted trails. For the most part, we seek this adventure to quench our own thirst, but what if we could do more? What if we could do our part to protect the places and wildlife that we search for?
Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation is helping us bridge that gap.
In the wake of a changing climate and a rapidly expanding human population, it is imperative that the choices we make are based on relevant scientific information. We know that the collection of data can be expensive, time consuming and physically challenging.
Adventure athletes constantly travel to areas of great need. These ambassadors of the outdoors often want to do more for the areas they travel in, but simply have not acquired the skills to do so. Throughout the last several months, we have been organizing an army of adventure athletes turned citizen-scientists who are now collecting scientific data on all seven continents.
The time is now to harness the unique abilities of people who are already going to difficult to reach areas. There are thousands of people in remote areas every day who are ready, willing, and able to help protect our planet’s most vital resources; they simply need the tools to do so.
If you’d like to learn more about how to help, visit adventureandscience.org. For a limited time, we’re giving away Talon 11 packs to those who donate $150 or more to the cause. Support the cause today!