Column #470 Climbing Mt. Fiji

Monday, September 1, 2014
Column 470
Climbing Mt. Fiji

If you follow darts (if you don’t but do follow Dartoid’s World then you’ve been caught red-handed ogling Double Out girls) you’ve probably heard of Stacy Bromberg.  She’s been US #1 for 39 of the past 16 years, has raised $40 million for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and (in addition to hundreds of other tournaments) won the WDF World Cup Ladies’ Singles in 2009 and the PDC Ladies’ Worlds in 2010 (in straight sets over Phil Taylor, who was wearing a cute little number from Victoria’s Secret).  Of course, she was screwed out of defending her WDF title in 2011 (no thanks to then president, Buddy Bartoletta, and the ADO).

Never controversial and always quiet (like me), Stacy has blazed a trail at the line second to none (unlike me).

And now, she has climbed a frickin’ mountain!

Climbing Mt. Fiji, by Stacy Bromberg

I recently travelled to play the Japan Open. Having never been to Japan, I cautiously planned 10 days for the 2-day tournament… just to make sure I didn’t miss anything! Besides Kyoto, and Tokyo, I planned to ‘take a shot’ at conquering Mt Fuji! (Yeah, pun intended…)

It was originally David Flowers’ idea… I NEVER would have come up with it! BUT, a challenge is a challenge and I do know that preparation is a major factor for endeavors such as this – so I started doing some research online.

Okay… the first article I read said, “…about 300,000 people climb Mt. Fuji a year and only a handful perish,” so I liked my odds. Another article said that the climb can be done with no problem by the ‘recreational hiker.’ So, I started walking a few miles a few times a week in my neighborhood and on beginner trails at Mt. Charleston, about 30 minutes from my home in Vegas, in preparation for Mt. Fuji…

Then, a few months later, I headed to Japan with my new hiking boots (slightly worn in), thermals, a couple of bandanas, and very high hopes!

The original plan was, after the Japan Open (in which I was fortunate enough to finish in the semis even with the severe neuropathy in my hands!), for David and Shingo, my friends from here in Vegas, Jason Wong from California, and Jinta, who lives in Japan, and I to attempt the climb! Keep in mind, I knew NOTHING about climbing until David suggested this possible adventure, and only then did I do any research about it. EVERYTHING I found online led me to believe this was ‘just another fun challenge.’ Not knowing any better, I said, “Sure, let’s climb that mountain!” “Why?” you ask. “Because it’s there!”

When all was said and done, it turned out that we’d gathered a climbing party of 10 people – all set to take on the heights of Mt. Fuji! The original 5 mentioned above were joined by Akai and Yoshi, employees of Jintas – GREAT guys, Tsuyoshi, who is now named “Troy,” Terry Maness from Laserdarts, and Mayomi Ouchi, Japan’s top lady darts player! Group photo with Fuji in backgroundAnd so we set out…

After driving a couple of hours from Tokyo, going to the wrong entrance at the mountain, then parking and taking a 30 minute bus ride, we finally arrived at Station 5, the furthest point on Mt. Fiji you can go until ‘the hike/climb’ begins.

First things first… after some photos in the parking lot with Mt Fuji in the background, we all ‘double checked’ ourselves and then set out. The start of the climb actually goes downhill for awhile… VERY deceptive! About 20 minutes into the climb, Tsuyoshi (Troy) and I both agreed we didn’t think we’d make it! From the start, Troy and Terry hadn’t even planned to make the climb. At the very last minute, they both just seemed to start walking with the rest of us… and kept walking! The ‘path’ was fine for the first hour or so. Then it started getting narrower… and rockier… and MUCH steeper! Before I knew it, I was climbing on all fours on hardened lava… and it got steeper and steeper! VERY steep!

Now, as I’ve said, I had done A LOT of research before setting out on this adventure! I was aware of the altitude issue, but it was a much bigger factor than I’d thought. Luckily, Jinta bought a bunch of oxygen canisters for everyone which were priceless! From the start, Jason had been feeling ill… nothing to do with the climb… just an unfortunate thing to happen. Terry and Troy were hiking in tennis shoes and Terry was carrying a Coach purse rather than a backpack, but it worked for her!

After 4 hours of hiking, we arrived at Station 7 where we all stopped for some curry. David did some ‘calculating’ and figured that, at the pace we were going, we were on schedule to arrive at the top about 3 hours AFTER the sun rises! Since seeing the sun rise from the mountain top was the MAIN goal of the climb and I was the slowest climber, I told David and the others that I was content to stay at Station 7 while the rest of the party continued on to the top. Group photo at station 7So, after some discussion, Jason, Terry, Troy and I stayed at Station 7 while the other 6 carried on.

It was nice that technology was present. About an hour later, we got a text telling us that the climbing party had seen a bunch of shooting stars, and having never seen one, I stood outside in the cold until I finally saw my first one! I made a wish on it, and it came true! (Everyone was safe and sound at the end of the climb!) Then Terry, Troy and I grabbed some sleep with Jason ‘passed out’ on the ‘sleeping pad’ next to us.

At 4:30 a.m. we got up to watch the sun rise from Station 7… we told ourselves that we were watching the same sunrise as the others, and while it was magnificent, I’m certain there was something missing in that we were not at the top (Station 10) like the others. I’m sure it must have been an incredible feeling of accomplishment for them… even along with the terrible leg cramps that David said he’d been experiencing since his 2-hour rest on the way up at Station 8.

As a ‘non-hiker,’ I’m happy with how far I got and glad I didn’t know how difficult it was before setting out because I’d probably not have made the attempt! My walking stick only had 6 stamps on it since I had not reached the top, but it was MY accomplishment and I am proud of it! Jinta pointed out that by my simply making the commitment, and walking in preparation of the climb and making the attempt, it was something of which to be proud!

After the sunrise, we began our descent. At this point, I had a terrible headache, probably from the altitude. It seems you can get altitude sickness even while sleeping. I never knew that but found out the hard way that it was true. About 2 1/2 hours later we arrived back at the bottom – Station 5. By this time, Terry had a huge bag of garbage she’d picked up along our hike to keep the mountain ‘just a bit more tidy’! You can take Terry out of Kansas City, but you can’t take the ‘hippie’ out of Terry – or something like that!

A few hours later, the successful part of our party returned, joined us and told me they’d named themselves ‘Team Stacy’ for the remainder of the climb! Successful 7 at topJinta, who suffered from altitude sickness part of the way, said he finished the climb FOR ME! And Mayoumi told me she said a prayer for my health at the shrine on top of the mountain and brought me a ‘health charm’ from the top, which I now keep in my darts bag Jinta gave me!

I then wanted to check out the others’ walking sticks which were stamped with all the progressive stamps of the mountain including the ‘coveted red stamp’ that can only be obtained at Station 10 at the top of the mountain. As it turned out, Jinta had taken an extra ‘short’ walking stick to the top, had it stamped all along the way, and presented it to me as a gift on our last night! And the fact that he wrote ‘Team Stacy’ and his name in Japanese on it makes it a treasure I will keep forever!

So, while I didn’t make it to the top of Mt Fuji this day, I felt like I was on top of the world! I really do have the BEST FRIENDS IN THE WORLD! And, for this, I am blessed and grateful!

Aragato!

Next stops: MACHU PICCHU and EASTER ISLAND…

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Dartoid
Author of the column that since 1995 has been featured by Bull’s Eye News, the American Darts Organization’s (ADO) Double Eagle and numerous other darts publications and websites around the globe.