Standing at 3776 metres high, Mount Fuji — or Fuji San as it’s respectfully referred to — is Japan’s highest mountain and an active stratovolcano.
Although it lies dormant since it’s last eruption in December 1707, this year there were preparations underway for a possible eruption with seismologists closely monitoring all activity.
One of the mountain huts on Mount Fuji | Photo: MK
Champ team Yuki and Joanna on Mount Fuji | Photo: MK
Mountain huts are found along the four routes to Fuji San’s summit
Fuji San’s beauty can be experienced upon ascent: a lush green forest base turns into basaltic rock and ash terrain which darkens to a deep red closer to summit.
The landscape is barren and otherworldly when you reach the peak in solitude.
Ascending Fuji San through the thick fog and cloud found at the beginning of the journey
Covered in snow in winter, Fuji San’s silhouette is somewhat of an icon and symbol of Japan. It’s a sacred place, World Heritage listed for its significance.
In Summer for two short months, it opens to hikers aiming to reach its summit. When the season begins, find mountain huts and vendors erected along the pilgrimage paths, built steep on the side of the mountain where plant life is minimal.
For geologists and botanists especially, Fuji San has multi-layers to discover.
Vernacular mountain architecture on Mount Fuji, utilising the site’s volcanic ash and stone | Photo: Joanna Kawecki / Ala Champ
Clouds surround the mid centre of the mountain | Photo: Monique Kawecki / Ala Champ
Champ EIC Joanna Kawecki stops for a break
(with Helinox Passport Trekking Poles and wearing Salomon XA ALPINE Mid Advanced Kangaroo Desert Black shoes, Salomon XT 10 Trailing Running Pack Backpack, Arct'eryx Alpha SV Jacket plus 'and Wander' Power Dry short sleeve top) | Photo: Champ Magazine © Monique Kawecki
As Fuji-san’s daily weather is notoriously unpredictable, hikers prepare with ankle gators for mud or volcanic ash, and sturdy footwear is a must as broken soles can be found on pathways or on hikers who have had to improvise a repair en route.
The hike is what you make of it.
Timed ascents and descents, hut bookings, the right crew, supplies and gear – preparation is key. You’ll also meet the most amazing people along the way, all energised by the mountain and it’s stoic presence for millennia.
Our gear included Helinox Passport Trekking Poles, Salomon XA ALPINE Mid Advanced Kangaroo Desert Black shoes, Salomon XT 10 Trailing Running Pack Backpack, Arct’eryx Alpha SV Jacket and Beta LT Jacket, Snow Peak 2L Octa Pant, ‘and Wander’ Power Dry short sleeve top.
The otherworldly views on Fuji San | Photo: Champ Magazine
Champ Team Yuki at the Fujinomiya Trail 5th station | Photo: Champ Magazine © Monique Kawecki
The ascent continues | Photo: Champ Magazine © Monique Kawecki
The camaraderie of Mount Fuji hikers | Photo: Champ Magazine © MK
Climbing Fujisan is a pilgrimage for many | Photo: Monique Kawecki / Ala Champ
The right equipment is necessary for the climb | Photo: Monique Kawecki / Ala Champ
Climbing in the footsteps of millions of earlier pilgrims, all united in their devotion to Fuji San is really something special.
Women weren’t allowed to climb the mountain until the Meiji restoration period in 1868, now all different types of people embark on the pilgrimage to tap into the energy field of dedication to this sacred mountain.
Read our full feature now on Champ Online and with our friends at UnownedSpaces.
Champ Editor Monique ascending Fuji-san (with Helinox Passport Trekking Poles and Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX shoe, Salomon Waterproof Shell Backpack, Arct'eryx Alpha SV Jacket) | Photo: JK / Ala Champ
Key Tools - Helinox Tekking Poles | Photo: MK / Ala Champ
Mt Fuji hiker wearing jika-tabi
Mt Fuji hiker wearing jika-tabi
The various flora found on Mount Fuji | Photo: JK / Ala Champ (2022)
The ascent continues | Photo: Champ Magazine © MK
Fellow hikers descending | Photo: Champ Magazine © MK
Depending on weather, there can be blistering sun or heavy rain and winds| Photo: Monique Kawecki / Ala Champ
Plant life on Mt Fuji changes as the altitude increases | Photo: Champ Magazine © Monique Kawecki
A diverse range of flora on the mountain | Photo: Champ Magazine © Monique Kawecki
Even flowers bloom on the mountain | Photo: Champ Magazine © Monique Kawecki
Rich colours of red and burgundy volcanic ash and rock remain on the mountain from the volcano’s last eruption in 1707 | Photo: Champ Magazine © Joanna Kawecki
Close to the Summit | Photo: Champ Magazine © Joanna Kawecki
The volcanic ash and stone found on Mount Fuji | Photo: Champ Magazine © Monique Kawecki
Inside Mount Fuji’s crater | Photo: Champ Magazine © Monique Kawecki
The moon illuminated | Photo: Champ Magazine © Joanna Kawecki
Reaching the summit at 3,776m in elevation, the highest point in Japan (Champ EIC Joanna Kawecki here wearing Salomon) | Photo: Champ Magazine
Colder temperature on the summit requires reliable outerwear (Champ EIC Monique Kawecki here wearing Snow Peak) | Photo: Champ Magazine © Joanna Kawecki
Dusk falls quickly | Photo: Champ Magazine © Monique Kawecki
Read more of our hiking stories in the Swiss Alps here and Mt Fuji here