Fuji-san: summit

September 11, 2011

我々はついに富士山頂に達した! After climbing Fuji-san all night in the dark until sunrise, all of the JAXA folks who started made it to the top! Morita-san had a harder time than he’d anticipated, so upon reaching the top he promptly turned around and jetted back down the mountain. The rest of us followed Dan-chan clockwise around the caldera rim.

The thing that impressed me most about the summit of Fuji-san was the diversity of basalt colors: red, black, brown, ochre, yellow, grey. These rocks are at least a thousand years old, and over the millennia, they maintained their intense hues.

Spelling something

We were trying to spell out JAXA but the cold had addled our brains.

Clouds grew to the southwest as viewed from near the summit.


Stuck into torii posts were coins, making the vertical sections look like strange mountain cacti.



It’s much farther down than you think! See how tiny the climbers are?


Twisted basalt.


山頂からの眺めは壮観だった。 Kawaguchiko to the north.


And as part of our occasional “vintage photography” series, here’s Yamanakako from 1907 to the east-northeast from the summit of Fuji-san, taken by Herbert Ponting. Imagine lugging that camera equipment up to the summit! In the last 114 years, there’s been a significant amount of development in the area; scarcely any flat areas near Fuji-san are pristine.

Lake Yamanaka from the summit of Mount Fuji

Fuji-san rests at the triple junction of three plates, including a subducting ocean plate, so we’d expect Fuji-san to be composed of andesitic rocks. Indeed, the first eruption that formed Fuji-san produced andesite; however, later eruptions came from material beneath the subducting oceanic plate and produced everyone’s favorite mafic rock: basalt, like in mid-ocean ridges and the Hawaiian volcanoes. The volcanoes which result from magma originating below oceanic plates are rather explosive in their eruptions, spewing ash, pumice, and eventually, viscous flows of lava. The high viscosity means steeper slopes, and steeper trails for intrepid hikers!


Incoming clouds from the south.


Vegetation line.




Empty structures.


Toward the tallest point. その山の頂上に塔があった。


Weathered torii.


Shrine, closed for winter.


Spot Mio-chan, being cute.

Napping at the omiyage shop.


This “pond” apparently has a name. Does anyone know the name of the lake at the summit of Fuji-san?


Stone figures.


Knitted cap.


Lava heads? Sakaue-san couldn’t explain.


Summit weather.


我々は山頂に立った。 We made it all the way to the summit, proper.

Summit crew!

Summit crew: Ijima-san is perpetually serious. Hayashiya-san shows we made it to the very top. Tani-san is a tourist. I'm pleased as punch. Dan-chan remains content. Mio-chan remains cold.

Tani and Hayashiya skipped down from the summit along the reddish trail of basaltic scree.


My polarizing filter decided to masquerade as a day-for-night one.


Back toward the summit where we’d taken the group shot. Some bits of green lichen clung to the rocks in the relative protection of the caldera walls.


There was still snow in the caldera, 火口 (fire + mouth, かこう… I love kanji).


Basaltic arch.


Black basaltic fence along the caldera rim.


A wall made of stacked basalt.


And thus began the descent of Fuji-san. Even so, 富士山に登った!

More photos from the summit.

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