We are leaving Kawaguchiko station with the first bus going to Mt. Fuji 5th Station at 9:40AM. It's already quite late since the regular season is just over (ends on August 31st). For the same reason, the last bus leaves rather early too, so we cannot go up and return on the same day, which means we have to stay on the mountain. Weather and mood are good, so we start to climb up about 11AM. The trail starts gently and there are many many mostly young Japanese people on the track. After about one hour we have a first rest, talking to some monks sitting in the morning sun and smoking cigarettes (funny, ain't it?). They have just returned from the summit, and tell me how to breath the best on the way up, proving me some Oxygen spray for the worst case.
The more we get up, the steeper the trail gets and by far, we are not as fast as we thought initially. Air gets thin, and I'm happy breathing the way the monks told me. Talking to some of the Japanese on the way, I learn that some of them would be climbing up already for the fourth time, but for most of them it is the first time. For Japanese, it is sort of traditional requirement to climb the highest mountain in the country once. Fortunately, the weather becomes more cloudy, so instead of hiking in the burning sun we walk in thin clouds. By 4PM we still have some 400 metres altitude left until we reach the crater. We sign in for a overnight stay in a hut for 6500 Yen incl. diner and climb up the remaining piece of steep trail, which takes us another 90 minutes. I'm totally exhausted, however I am totally happy I reached there. Sun is shining again, and underneath us there is the clouds. Just before sunset, we get more and more clouds and a stiff chilling breeze. So we get back to our hut, have diner and try to sleep until 2:30AM when all the others will start hiking to reach the peak for sunrise.
Having hardly slept at all, I happily climbed up with my mates to see sunset on tho top. An endless snake of headlights of climbing up people. Incredible... Nice talking to some of the fellow climbers. Sunrise on Mt. Fuji on my 34st birthday, a long kept dream becomes reality.