4:49pm 05/09/2022
Making the move fearlessly!
By:Lee San

4.30 in the morning, 3°C and after 16 hours of walking and hiking, I finally set my feet on the 3,776-meter Kengamine peak of Mount Fuji.

I was emotionally overwhelmed right at that moment, and could feel the irresistible bliss being able to conquer the highest peak of Japan, especially during my first trip to the country after a break of two and a half years because of the pandemic, in my first ever attempt to scale the summit of Mount Fuji, where for the first time under such an environment I got to contemplate all things and people that had given me the strength to change my destiny.

All I had was unspeakable gratitude!

Our seasoned mountain guide Nakamura, having noticed the tears rolling inside my eyes and the look of me being deeply absorbed in thought, stood quietly beside me without a word.

Indeed, everyone climbing Mount Fuji appears to have some untold stories inside them, good or bad, in addition to a powerful determination and persistence to reach the top. Nakamura showed a “give me five” gesture to everyone in the group, yelling at the top of his voice: You did it! You’re now standing on the highest peak of Japan!

The 3,776-meter Mount Fuji: Far and inaccessible as it appears, we can bring ourselves closer to the goal so long as we are willing to make the move. We are all bravers who will forge on and take down every obstacle that stands in our way!

12.30 noon the day before, we set off from Fujisan Gogome at an altitude of 2,305 meters above sea level, making our way uphill along the popular Yoshida trail. We were trekking up the nearly 80-degree slope, some on very tough and challenging sand limestone or black volcanic gravel terrain, but fear not, we managed to overcome all these safely!

With a strong determination, we finally made it to the top of what every Japanese sees as the most sacred mountain. This has further proven that we succeeded because we were fearless!

On the Fujisan 10-gome peak, I was standing on the fringe of the giant volcanic crater 800 meters across and 200 meters deep, marveling at the result of Nature’s unrivaled powers while imagining how massive Mount Fuji’s last eruption in 1707 could have been! From what we understand, it was that very eruption that shaped Mount Fuji into what it is today.

Whichever angle you look at it, Mount Fuji is always in a dormant state and is veritably the most majestic, elegant and idyllic active volcano anywhere on Earth.

The entire 90 sq km Mount Fuji area and its foothills includes also the fabulous Fuji Five Lakes (Yamanaka, Kawaguchi, Sai, Shoji and Motosu) listed in 2013 as a World Heritage Site.

I remember when I went to Japan for study in 1991, I had wanted very much to conquer Mount Fuji and see the mysterious volcanic crater with my own eyes.

However, as I was too busy…plus a host of other excuses, I couldn’t quite get the chance. Luckily, I finally got the opportunity to fulfill my dream after this pandemic.

Mount Fuji will remain snow-free and dry from July through September 10 each summer, with ambient temperatures between 15° and 0°C (down 0.06° every 100 meters up), making it very safe and suitable for trekking activities.

Because of the pandemic, Mount Fuji was shut out from the outside world for two whole summers, joining the rest of the planet in that very rare moment of complete hush and stillness.

As a matter of fact, we in the travel industry have been “confined” by the virus for almost two and a half years, completely immobilized! The reopening of Mount Fuji this summer has given me a distinct direction: whatever happens to us, we will continue to climb every mountain and embody the spirit of outstanding bravery!

People say Mount Fuji’s weather in summer is highly unpredictable with brief bouts of thick fog, gusts and showers interspersed with hours of sunny sky and cool breezes. It definitely pays to get ourselves sufficiently prepared for the uncertainty!

We do come across unpredictable setbacks every now and then in our lives and careers and have learned to prepare the umbrella before it rains.

Thankfully we somehow manage to overcome each of these hurdles and embrace the sunshine at the end of the tempest. Actually, there are always moments of joys and reassurances lurking along the way in every demanding journey, provided that we don’t give up halfway.

At exactly five in the morning, we were greeted by the so-called goraikou, the day’s first ray of sunshine that breaks through the clouds, as over 2,0000 hikers cheered in excitement.

We all had waited in darkness for this moment of light which heralds the start of a new day.

The moment of light will eventually come, and all beings under the Sun will continue to thrive and prosper, day after day.

Henceforth, I’ve found my heart growing even stronger now!

(Lee San is Founder and Group Executive Chairman of Apple Vacations. He has traveled to 132 countries, six continents, and enjoys sharing his travel stories and insights. He has also authored five books.)


Lee San
Apple Vacations
Mount Fuji


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