File this one under “something new learned every day…”
A personal email request about whether “anyone would stop me” from climbing Mount Fuji sparked my curiosity: I climbed it in September, a few weeks after the end of the official climbing season, and wrote about the experience in Little Snail, Slowly Slowly Climb Mount Fuji. At that time, though a few of the huts were closed and the numbers of climbers were nowhere near what my climbing buddies had experienced when they climbed in-season (every year, something like 300,000 climb Mount Fuji in July and August. Can you imagine?), many of the huts were still open and professional guides were still leading groups of novices up the mountain. Heck, even the Information Center at 5th station was open and handing out maps. Business as usual, right?
Apparently not quite. I wanted to double-check what I thought I knew about climbing Fujisan out of season so i did some research online. This is what I found:
According to this webpage by the Nagoya Information Center, which appears to be a volunteer group providing information in English to residents and visitors, “any one wishing to climb the mountain outside of the official climbing season must hold an official mountaineer license and register with the police beforehand”.
So how does one go about registering a climb with the police?
According to this site, (which includes a list of fatalities on Fujisan dating back to 2003, with an evocative list of “reasons” including “frozen” (5 people), “slipped” (24) and simply “blown away” at the summit (2 – both in 2005)), the appropriate authorities to be contacted depends on the route taken: (note that the link to
Fujiyoshida Police Station: 0555-22-0110 (note that the link to file a climbing plan is broken)
Fujinomoya, Subashiri, Gotemba
Shizuoka Prefectural Police Dept. 054-271-0110
The International Affairs Desk at Fujiyoshida City Hall has a brief but helpful guide to the dangers of climbing out of seasn, plus contact information and downloads of forms for filing a Climbing Plan with police: Risks of Off-Season Climbing. The page explains that “This is not an authorization form but a personal profile to be used in the event that there is an emergency”). Note that the form is a generic one for registering a climb on any mountain in Japan; it requires info such as number of members in the party and equipment carried, but nothing about holding an “official mountaineer license” – a certification I’ve never heard of before, and couldn’t find on a quick Google search.
So there you go. Question=
100% answered but getting there. In sum, based on my experience, climbing a little ways out of season appears to be business as usual. There was certainly no-one there to stop us or the hundreds of others who climbed on a beautiful weekend in September. I’ve also never heard of anyone being greeted by any police or rangers or what-have-you if they’ve climbed deeper in the off-season: nor can I imagine anyone staking out the trailhead to turn back wannabe mountaineers. However, whether or not it’s actually a legal requirement, that list of fatalities reminds us that submitting a Climbing Plan is probably a good idea, if only so that the paperwork is complete… 🙂
What do you think? Have you – “licensed” mountaineer or otherwise – climbed Fujisan deep in theoff-season? How does what I’ve found online jive with your personal experience? Please add a comment and let us know!