Winter Accidents on Mount Fuji Show No Sign of Abating (News)
Kōfu, Yamanashi Pref., Feb. 15 (Jiji Press)—The official climbing season on Mount Fuji lasts only for the snow-free summer months, but Japan's iconic mountain also attracts mountaineers who brave the wind-swept peak out of season.
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Accidents occur almost every winter on the nation’s highest mountain, including one last month that left two people dead and one injured.
As the 3,776-meter-high mountain, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is an independent peak, not part of any mountain range, weather conditions are severe in the winter, with strong winds blowing from all directions.
“From the eighth station and up, it’s the toughest mountain to climb in Japan,” said Furuya Toshitaka, 66-year-old chairman of the Yamanashi-ken Mountaineering Federation, who has been climbing mountains for some 50 years.
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Furuya, who has taken part in several winter rescue operations on Mount Fuji, says that icy conditions turn climbing trails into “slanted skating rinks” that are difficult to scale with even specialized equipment. A representative of the Yamanashi Prefectural Police explained the risk of serious injury or death, saying that a single slip can lead to climbers sliding several hundred meters down the ice-covered slope.
Furuya recalled search efforts several years earlier to locate a climber who tumbled from the ninth to the sixth station. The person is thought to have survived the fall, but succumbed to the elements after rescuers were unable to locate him. His body was recovered several months later. “The temperature can drop to twenty below zero even at the fifth station,” Furuya said. “If someone is injured and unable to move, it can quickly be fatal.”[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd. Content edited and added by the Nippon.com editorial team.]