You are wise to climb Fuji once and a fool to climb it twice (Japanese proverb)
Posted Jun 25, 2004
Or: Bossel's Adventures, Part II
Climbing Mount Fuji means walking up a steep heap of lava with the occasional rock here and there. Sometimes it also means scrambling over fields of solid rock. The path is sufficiently marked, much effort has been spent into protecting it against mountain slides, and steel cables are provided as handrails wherever necessary.
The official Fuji climbing season starts on July 1. Before that day, bus services from Tokyo are rather sparse, with one bus driving out at 8.45am (to reach '5th station' by 11) and two buses returning from 5th station at 2pm and 4pm. 5th station is the base camp at 2305m and features a couple of houses and the usual tourist traps. There are some 6 more stations further up the mountain, with a somewhat confusing numbering scheme that has 6th, 7th, 9th stations plus two 'old 8th stations' and a 'new 8th station'. All of these are only reachable by foot or helicopter. During the Fuji climbing season, they provide accomodation for those who decide to walk up in the afternoon, stay overnight on a bamboo mat and climb up the rest in the very early morning hours to watch the sunrise from the mountain's summit. Climbing from 5th station to the top takes about 5hrs up and 3hrs down, ie, it takes too long to return on the same day.
Now, on Saturday we (two colleagues and yours truly) set out to mount Mount Fuji. This was well before the beginning of the official Fuji climbing season. Therefore we decided that we'd climb up, walk down, miss the bus and call a taxi to take us to Kawaguchiko railway station which is located at the foot of the mountain. Apart from the usual climbing outfit (solid footwear, weatherproof garment, food, water, torch lights, you name it), we also had a Japanese mobile phone and a portable GPS navigation device. This was deemed enough to get us home safely and in stable mental condition. We determined that everybody should walk at their own pace, that we meet at the summit, and in any case, meet at the bus stop at 5th station.
Things started quite well, the weather was fine and after some 3 hours we had reached the first of several 8th stations. By this time, however, we had already separated. So there was me, alone, some 20 minutes after my two colleagues who carried the phone and the GPS thingie. The cottages at 6th/7th/8th station were firmly shut, but preparations for the season were ongoing on three huts further up the mountain. When I reached 9th station (at 3250m, with 500m remaining), the two were out of sight and my muscles said that this was enough. So, after having lunch break I turned around, climbed back down and reached 5th station at 6pm.
Surprise #1: 5th station was dead and closed. Nobody in sight, all shops closed, all shutters down (later I learned that 5th station would be abandoned right after the last bus had left, ie: shortly after 4pm).
Surprise #2: No public telephone. Not even an emergency (SOS) phone. Thus, there was no way to phone up my colleagues, nor was there a chance to call a taxi.
Nothing continued to happen.
7pm, darkness set in.
Occasionally, some other climbers came down the mountain. I asked them all about the whereabouts of my colleages. Some had seen them, one had met them on the summit, one group had seen them leave the summit on a different route, one said they ought to be here just about any time.
8pm, with more nothings happening in between.
Every once in a while, I saw some blinking lights in the dark distance. But every time, these turned out to be yet another Japanese or foreign tourist getting back to 5th station where they had left their cars.
9pm, and pondering.
Should anything have happened to my colleagues then it must have killed them both. Otherwise, at least one of them ought to show up, or I should be hearing the sounds of a helicopter, or seeing the torch lights of rescue teams working their way through the mountain slopes. None of these was the case.
10pm, still pondering.
As they hadn't arrived yet, they either didn't want or couldn't return to 5th station. In both cases, there was nothing I could do. Did they take cover in one of the huts above 7th station? Should I break a glass of one of the shops, to set off an alarm that would call in the police? Most likely, they would only speak Japanese, and which reason could I provide that would warrant starting a Search & Rescue endeavour? I determined that it was unlikely that they would show up before dawn, there was no way for me to leave the place, and the best thing to do would be to go to sleep.
This was easier said than done.
All buildings being firmly shut, all I could find was a couple of wooden benches, a plastic doormat and a 1m recess under the roof of a building. Arranging one bench as my bivouac and four others as a windshield, I put myself to rest. After all, I was certain that I was the only human being around the place, and I felt confident that the body odours emanating from my clothes would qualify me as 'non-food' for everything else.
[to be continued next week...]
Posted Apr 9, 2004
Finally, after 9 (almost 10) years, I'm moving house. Something bigger, something off the basement, something quiter, something closer to the U-Bahn . Something more expensive, too
My current habitat was intended as a preliminary housing from the beginning, but there you see what being a procrastinator is all about
All that is left here for the moment is a table, a chair and the computer. This is necessary because the telephone&DSL line will be switched over sometime next week. What would I do without?
Credits for triggering the move and finding the new flat go out to h2g2 in general, and to Hell (U171578) in particular . He's living right next door (from the new flat, that is), which makes h2g2 Munich Mini Meets so much easier
Six degrees of e-mail
Posted Aug 7, 2003
A recent study tried to figure out how many intermediate people it would take to send an e-mail from a person A to some other person B, under the condition that each person in the chain would send the initial mail to somebody they knew by their first name.
The result turned out to be this: six 'hops' and the e-mail would be 'there'. Doing some maths (taking the 6th root of an estimated 6,000,000,000 people on this planet, and rounding to the next lower integer), this means that on average, everybody has got...
... the unsurprising number of ...
people in their e-mail address book
Posted Mar 3, 2003
Never heard of that agent before, but it sounds like something *verrrrry* dangerous. For details, just google for 'DHMO' and you shall see.
Posted Jan 26, 2003
Back from the meet
Arrived very early at the bus stop of the A6 service from Golders Green to Stansted Airport. To be precise: arrived at 13:45 and began waiting for a bus. Brochure says there'll be busses every twenty minutes, next one will be there at 13:55. The tour takes about 60 minutes and the flight departure is at 17:35.
13:55 : no bus
14:15 : no bus. hmmm...
14:35 : no bus...
14:55 : no bus...
15:00 : went to the booking office, asked for a A6 service phone number. No such thing. Officer phoned up someone and replies: there'll be a bus in 10 minutes.
The A6 busses start at Victoria station and pick up travellers at 9 stations before finally heading for Stansted. But, once a bus is full, it'll skip all remaining stations and drive through directly. Don't expect that this information was printed anywhere.
15:10 : someone else goes to the booking office and returns with the information that there'll be an empty bus in 10 minutes. A-haa.
15:15 : no bus. Adrenaline level rises.
15:30 : time to take a taxi
15:31 : a bus is coming. Empty, destination Stansted!
15:32 : luggage stowed, entered as the first passenger.
15:50 : finally, after loading luggage, selling tickets, answering questions etc, the bus leaves for Stansted
16:55 : arriving at S.
17:15 : after jumping queues (apologies to everyone) at the checkin and screening stations, yours truly arrives at the gate and is ready to board the plane. Phew!
smooth flight follows
20:55 (German time now) : entering MVV S-Bahn line 8 from Munich Airport to Munich Central Station (HBF).
21:40 : train enters HBF, after having spent a total of 15 surplus minutes just standing somewhere on and between stations. Adrenaline level reaches precarious levels.
21:45 : Due to repair works, there's no S-Bahn between HBF and Marienplatz on weekends. This is a known fact, has been announced long enough before (see also addendum to A506594), there are busses and trams provided to take over. Busses are announced as going at intervals of 10 minutes.
22:00 : bus leaves HBF after just another extra 5 minutes.
22:15 : at Marienplatz. Prior experience tells that walking from HBF to Marienplatz takes 10 minutes.
22:28 : Arriving down under at the U-Bahn platform. A train arrives (not the destination of yours truly)
22:32 : the train is still there.
22:35 : the train is still there, emitting a hissing noise from somewhere in the undercarriage. Driver leaves cabin and starts examinating.
22:38 : now let's see what taxi services are like today.
22:50 : at home! Need a !
22:51 : the craftsmen (who revamped the bathroom over the weekend) have taken out the fuse for the fridge too
This much for today, and this much for the future of the relationship between Bossel and public transport in general, and the A6 bus line in particular.