Old People and Mount Fuji

Today I climbed Mount Fuji. Apart from the sense of achievement this gave me, and the fantastic views, something I gained from the experience was a new angle of respect for my wife’s parents. You see, they are both in their seventies and climbed Mount Fuji two years ago and what I can’t help wondering is how on earth they managed it.

For a young or middle-aged person it’s not that hard provided you have good weather and enough time, but it’s not a walk in the park either and I cannot for one second imagine my own parents making it up there. The flanks of Fuji are gravelly and slippery underfoot. I fell on my arse comedy fashion twice on the way up, crumbling into a heap and instinctively raising my arm and yelling ‘Daijoubu!’ at nobody in particular. Coming down, my feet seemed to want to get away from my body any chance they could get and several times I startled people who were on their way up by charging quickly at them with the gait of a newly born foal. On a couple of occasions I had to pretend I meant to do a bit of arse tobogganing and at one point, when an elderly woman commented that I was ‘genki’, I just didn’t have time to shout over my shoulder as I passed that I really, really didn’t want to be running at all.

So, what I wonder is how these old people do this? I thought old people broke their hips falling over in their kitchens and stuff. How come these people seem more sure-footed than me? The evidence today suggested it’s not just my in-laws. I saw plenty of people as old as them, both on the way up and on the way down, and not once was one complaining that they’d fallen down and can’t get up. At some points I was not so much breathing as snoring, yet they seemed to be doing just fine!

Of course, there are plenty of old people who have no business being on a mountain at all, but for those that are clearly able and willing, I salute you. I can only hope I have your physical stamina and sense of balance when I am in my sixties and seventies. I doubt I will, though. My knees struggled to carry me up the stairs in my house tonight.

So there it is then – a little blog post on Mount Fuji. And one that doesn’t mention that a wise man climbs Mount Fuji once but only a fool….Oh shit!



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8 Responses to Old People and Mount Fuji

  1. You always put a smile on my face. I envy you your exploits.

  2. Tom says:

    That is a pretty amazing feat for an elderly person to accomplish. I’ve read about old people still walking part of the Shikoku pilgrimage. Japan must put something in the water that gives them super strength.

  3. Gavin says:

    Suspect my father-in-law would probably embarrass me if we ever did Fuji-san together. We (me, J-wife, and F-i-L and the M-i-L) all went up Takao-san back in Oct 2010. Not in the same difficulty ballpark as Fuji-san, but it was no problem for them. Only the mini-Dasschunds that they dragged only were complaining about the climb!

    Ahhh, must climb Fuji-san one day. But since we only tend to visit Japan during Autumn or Spring… looks like it will have to be if, NO when, we move back to Japan (fingers crossed)

  4. tranh says:

    They were doing that in the 50″s. Amazing. Kudos to them.

  5. Jeffrey says:

    Can you please explain why everyone insists on climbing Fuji in August? Seems to me that October would be a much better month – cooler temperatures (Fuji isn’t even that cold in the middle of winter) would mean firmer footing, it would most likely be drier and there should be no crowds to speak of.

    • The snow usually comes in October and conditions at the top are generally a bit more dangerous. Also, the rest huts and vendors etc are all closed after the season ends. September might be better than October (but again the huts will be closed) but typhoons often hit in September. You’re right in that it’s not Everest cold or anything, but it can still get pretty cold up top, well below freezing, and Fuji climbers are often inexperienced day-trippers!

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