story by Charles Nearing; photo submitted by Charles Peng
On July 1st, Canada Day, eight of us (SMU Alumni and Alumna) started up Mount Fuji. We would find out later that the weather was not going to cooperate. We reached station eight at around 8:30 pm for a rest. It was clear enough at that point, above a layer of clouds, to take some photos of the orange and red hues of the setting sun.
Our plan was to reach the peak before 4:36am, in time for the sunrise. At 1:15am we woke and got ready for the trek but we were advised not to depart due to heavy rain, low visibility, and tempest winds. We heeded this advice and rested for another 3 hours. The rain stopped but the visibility and winds maintained.
With renewed determination we began again. Personally, I was going to reach the summit no matter what. Although, I will admit there were a few times I looked behind, down the mountain, and thought maybe I should turn around.
There were several areas with narrow passage ways with no support rail, volcanic rock faces and slippery slopes from the rain and mist. Combined with winds that had powerful unpredictable consistent gusts, enough to blow you off, the risk was severe.
I am happy everyone did their best under the circumstance. I do believe the choice was one of life or death, or at the least serious injury. I am proud of everyone no matter how far you made it. On the way down, as it would be the case, the sky cleared and we were able to capture a beautiful picture of our amazing group with Mount Fuji in the background. Thank you to Charles, Stacy, Kevin, Jennifer, Masaya, Tak, and Oscar for joining this adventure.