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07-11-03, 06:13 AM
Marines, Sailors reach for the top...
Mt. Fuji challenges climbers' bodies, spirits
Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification Number: 200379185731
Story by Sgt. Jason D. Gallentine

MOUNT FUJI, JAPAN(July 7, 2003) -- A large group of Marines and Sailors stood at the base of Mt. Fuji looking up at the peak shroud in clouds and superstition. Each Marine and Sailor, dressed in camouflage utilities, did a final check of their gear before shouldering their packs and stepping out on their climb.

The Marines and Sailors from Headquarters Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group, climbed the 12,389-foot mountain while conducting field training at nearby Camp Fuji to condition themselves.

Mt. Fuji (mountain of warriors) was created over three generations of volcanic activity, giving it the stature of the tallest mountain in Japan. Although still classified as an active volcano, the last and largest eruption occurred in 1707.

The challenge of climbing Mt. Fuji began as a religious pilgrimage. Although for many today, this is not the case, nearly 200,000 people come yearly from around the world to climb during the open season, July 1 to August 31.

While people young and old come to climb this sacred mountain, it becomes quite a challenge for many.

There are three trails available for ascending and descending. Each one offers a different view of the surrounding area. Along the trails there are nine stations where climbers can rest, shop for souvenirs, have their Fuji walking sticks stamped and interact with the local nationals.

According to Pfc. Russell G. Green, armorer, S-4, climbing Mt. Fuji was a great experience and a wondrous sight that he will remember as long as he lives.

"To me it was one of the most challenging things I've done since boot camp," said the Dickenson County, Va. native.

Sgt. Ryan J. Brady, programmer, G-6, said the combination of difficult terrain, cold weather, and altitude made the hike one of the most challenging and strenuous physical training evolutions. However, Brady felt the climb was a great experience for his platoon.

"I feel that climbing Mt. Fuji provided the platoon with exposure to an experience they will not soon forget," said the Sacramento, Calif. native. "Whether it was interacting with local nationals on the trail or providing MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) heaters to hikers ill-prepared for the extreme weather, the Marines and Sailors left and received good impressions with the friendly Japanese people."

According to Brady, he has plans to climb the mountain again with his wife and feels everyone should make the climb.

"This hike is a must for people who seek a challenge and want to push themselves to their limits," Brady said. "Standing at the peak leaves you with a sense of accomplishment and reaching the bottom again with a feeling of relief."


Marines from Headquarters Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion, 3rd FSSG, make their way up Mt. Fuji during inclement weather. Clouds became denser the farther up the company climbed during a conditioning hike.
Photo by: Sgt. Jason Gallentine