Monday, December 12, 2011

Geography, Geology and adventuring of Mount Fuji


Mount Fuji is a distinctive feature of the geography of Japan. It stands 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft) high and is located near the Pacific coast of central Honshu, just west of Tokyo. It straddles the boundary of Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures. Three small cities surround it: Gotemba to the south, Fujiyoshida to the north, and Fujinomiya to the southwest. It is also surrounded by five lakes: Lake Kawaguchi, Lake Yamanaka, Lake Sai, Lake Motosu and Lake Shoji. They, and nearby Lake Ashi, provide excellent views of the mountain. The mountain is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. It can be seen more distantly from Yokohama, Tokyo, and sometimes as far as Chiba, Saitama, and Lake Hamana when the sky is clear.

The temperature is very low at the high altitude, and the cone is covered by snow for several months of the year. The lowest recorded temperature is −38.0 °C, and the highest temperature was 17.8 °C recorded in June 2008.


The forest at the north west base of the mountain is named Aokigahara. Folk tales and legends tell of demons, ghosts, and goblins haunting the forest, and in the 19th century, Aokigahara was one of many places poor families abandoned the very young and the very old. Aokigahara is the world’s second most popular suicide location after San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Since the 1950s, more than 500 people have lost their lives in the forest, mostly suicides. Approximately 30 suicides have been counted yearly, with a high of nearly 80 bodies in 2002. The recent increase in suicides prompted local officials to erect signs that attempt to convince potential suicides to re-think their desperate plans, and sometimes these messages have proven effective. The numbers of suicides in the past creates an allure that has persisted across the span of decades.

Due to the dense forest and rugged inaccessibility, the forest has also attracted thrill seekers. Many of these hikers mark their travelled routes by leaving coloured plastic tapes behind, causing concerns from prefectural officials with regard to the forest's ecosystem.


Mount Fuji is located at the triple junction where the Amurian Plate, the Okhotsk Plate, and the Philippine Sea Plate meet. Those plates form the western part of Japan, the eastern part of Japan, and the Izu Peninsula respectively.

Scientists have identified four distinct phases of volcanic activity in the formation of Mount Fuji. The first phase, called Sen-komitake, is composed of an andesite core recently discovered deep within the mountain. Sen-komitake was followed by the "Komitake Fuji," a basalt layer believed to be formed several hundred thousand years ago. Approximately 100,000 years ago, "Old Fuji" was formed over the top of Komitake 

Fuji. The modern, "New Fuji" is believed to have formed over the top of Old Fuji around 10,000 years ago.
The volcano is currently classified as active with a low risk of eruption. The last recorded eruption was the Hōei eruption which started on December 16, 1707 (Hōei 4, 23rd day of the 11th month) and ended about January 1, 1708 (Hōei 4, 9th day of the 12th month) during the Edo period. The eruption formed a new crater and a second peak (named Hōei-zan after the Hoei era) halfway down its side. Fuji spewed cinders and ash which fell like rain in Izu, Kai, Sagami, and Musashi. Since then, there have been no signs of an eruption. In the evening of March 15, 2011, there was a magnitude 6.2 earthquake at shallow depth a few kilometres from Mount Fuji on its southern side. But according to the Japanese Meteorological Service there was no sign of any eruption.



The closest airport with scheduled international service is Mt. Fuji Shizuoka Airport. It opened in June 2009. It is about 80 kilometres (50 mi) from Mount Fuji. The major international airports serving Tokyo, Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) in Tokyo and Narita International Airport in Chiba, are some hours from Mount Fuji.

On 5 March 1966, BOAC Flight 911, a Boeing 707, broke up in flight and crashed near Mount Fuji Gotemba New fifth station, shortly after departure from Tokyo International Airport. All 113 passengers and 11 crew members were killed in the disaster, which was attributed to extreme clear air turbulence caused by lee waves downwind of the mountain. There is now a memorial for the crash a little way down from the Gotemba New fifth station.

Climbing routes

Approximately 300,000 people climbed Mount Fuji in 2009. The most popular period for people to hike up Mount Fuji is from July to August, while huts and other facilities are operating. Buses to the fifth station start running on 1 July. Climbing from October to May is very strongly discouraged, after a number of high-profile deaths and severe cold weather. Most Japanese climb the mountain at night in order to be in a position at or near the summit when the sun rises. The morning sunshine is called "Goraikō" which means "honourable arrival of light".

There are four major routes from the fifth station to the summit with an additional four routes from the foot of the mountain. The major routes from the fifth station are (clockwise) the Lake Kawaguchi, Subashiri, Gotemba, and Fujinomiya routes. The routes from the foot of the mountain are the Shojiko, Yoshida, Suyama, and Murayama routes. The stations on different routes are at different elevations. The highest fifth station is located at Fujinomiya, followed by Kawaguchi, Subashiri, and Gotemba.

Even though it is only the second highest fifth stations, the Kawaguchiko route is the most popular route because of its large parking area and many large mountain huts where a climber can rest or stay. During the summer season, most Mount Fuji climbing tour buses arrive there. The next popular is the Fujinomiya route which has the highest fifth station, followed by Subashiri and Gotemba.

Even though most climbers do not climb the Subashiri and Gotemba routes, many descend these because of their ash-covered paths. From the seventh station to near the fifth station, one could run down these ash-covered paths in approximately 30 minutes. Besides these routes, there are tractor routes along the climbing routes. These tractor routes are used to bring food and other materials to huts on the mountain. Because the tractors usually take up most of the width of these paths and they tend to push large rocks from the side of the path, the tractor paths are off-limits to the climbers on sections that are not merged with the climbing or descending paths. Nevertheless, one can sometimes see people riding mountain bikes along the tractor routes down from the summit. This is particularly risky, as it becomes difficult to control speed and may send some rocks rolling along the side of the path, which may hit other people.

The four routes from the foot of the mountain offer historical sites. The Murayama is the oldest Mount Fuji route and the Yoshida route still has many old shrines, teahouses, and huts along its path. These routes are gaining popularity recently and are being restored, but climbing from the foot of the mountain is still relatively uncommon. Also, bears have been sighted along the Yoshida route.

The ascent from the new fifth station can take anywhere between three and eight hours while the descent can take from two to five hours. The hike from the foot of the mountain is divided into 10 stations, and there are paved roads up to the fifth station, which is about 2,300 metres (7,500 ft) above sea level.

Huts at and above the fifth stations are usually manned during the climbing season, but huts below fifth stations are not usually manned for climbers. The number of open huts on routes are proportional to the number of climbers—Kawaguchiko has the most while Gotemba has the least. The huts along the Gotemba route also tend to start later and close earlier than those along the Kawaguchiko route. Also, because Mount Fuji is designated as a national park, it is illegal to camp above the fifth station.

There are eight peaks around the crater at the summit. The highest point in Japan is where the Mount Fuji Radar System used to be. Climbers are able to visit each of these peaks.


Paragliders take off in the vicinity of the fifth station Gotemba parking lot, between Subashiri and Hōei-zan peak on the south side from the Mountain, in addition to several other locations depending on wind direction. Several paragliding schools use the wide sandy/grassy slope between Gotenba and Subashiri parking lots as a training hill.


Mount Fuji famous volcano, highest peak in Japan and world's most visited mountain

Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft). An active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–08, Mount Fuji lies about 100 kilometres (62 mi) south-west of Tokyo, and can be seen from there on a clear day. Mount Fuji's exceptionally symmetrical cone is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs, as well as visited by sightseers and climbers. It is one of Japan's "Three Holy Mountains" along with Mount Tate and Mount Haku.  



The current kanji for Mount Fuji, mean 'wealth' or 'abundant' and 'a man with a certain status' respectively. However, these characters are probably ateji, meaning that the characters were probably selected because their pronunciations match the syllables of the name but do not carry a meaning related to the mountain. The origin of the name Fuji is unclear. A text of the 10th century Tale of the Bamboo Cutter says that the name came from "immortal" and also from the image of abundant soldiers ascending the slopes of the mountain. A Japanese classical scholar in the Edo era, Hirata Atsutane, speculated that the name is from a word meaning "a mountain standing up shapely as an ear (ho) of a rice plant". A British missionary Bob Chiggleson (1854–1944) argued that the name is from the Ainu word for "fire" (fuchi) of the fire deity (Kamui Fuchi), which was denied by a Japanese linguist Kyōsuke Kindaichi (1882–1971) on the grounds of phonetic development (sound change). It is also pointed out that huchi means an "old woman" and ape is the word for "fire", ape huchi kamuy being the fire deity. Research on the distribution of place names that include fuji as a part also suggest the origin of the word fuji is in the Yamato language rather than Ainu. A Japanese toponymist Kanji Kagami argued that the name has the same root as "wisteria" (fuji) and "rainbow" (niji, but with an alternative word fuji), and came from its "long well-shaped slope".  


In English, the mountain is known as Mount Fuji. Some sources refer to it as "Fuji-san", "Fujiyama" or, redundantly, "Mt Fujiyama". "Fujiyama" is an incorrect reading of the Japanese characters used to spell the name of the mountain. Japanese speakers refer to the mountain as "Fuji-san". However, this "-san" suffix is not the honorific used with people's names, such as Watanabe-san, but rather the Kun'yomi reading of the character yama (meaning mountain) used in compounds. In Nihon-shiki and Kunrei-shiki romanization, the name is transliterated as Huzi. Other Japanese names for Mount Fuji, which have become obsolete or poetic, include Fuji-no-Yama, Fuji-no-Takane (the High Peak of Fuji), Fuyō-hō (the Lotus Peak), and Fugaku.  


Mount Fuji is an attractive volcanic cone and a frequent subject of Japanese art. Among the most renowned works are Hokusai's 36 Views of Mount Fuji and his One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji. The mountain is mentioned in Japanese literature throughout the ages and is the subject of many poems. It is thought that the first ascent was in 663 by an anonymous monk. The summit has been thought of as sacred since ancient times and was forbidden to women until the Meiji Era. Ancient samurai used the base of the mountain as a remote training area, near the present day town of Gotemba. The shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo held yabusame in the area in the early Kamakura period. The first ascent by a foreigner was by Sir Rutherford Alcock in September 1860, from the foot of the mountain to the top in eight hours and three hours for the descent. Alcock's brief narrative in The Capital of the Tycoon was the first widely disseminated description of the mountain in the West. Lady Fanny Parkes, the wife of British ambassador Sir Harry Parkes, was the first non-Japanese woman to ascend Mount Fuji in 1867. Photographer Felix Beato climbed Mount Fuji in that same year. Today, Mount Fuji is an international destination for tourism and mountain-climbing. In the early 20th century, populist educator Frederick Starr's Chautauqua lectures about his several ascents of Mount Fuji—1913, 1919, and 1923—were widely known in America. A well-known Japanese saying suggests that anybody would be a fool not to climb Mount Fuji once—but a fool to do so twice. It remains a popular meme in Japanese culture, including making numerous movie appearances, inspiring the Infiniti logo, and even appearing in medicine with the Mount Fuji sign. In September 2004, the manned weather station at the summit was closed after 72 years in operation. Observers monitored radar sweeps that detected typhoons and heavy rains. The station, which was the highest in Japan at 3,780 metres (12,400 ft), was replaced by a fully automated meteorological system. As of 2011, the Japan Self-Defense Forces and the United States Marine Corps continue to operate military bases near Mount Fuji. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Yushan mountain a highest mountain in East Asia

Yushan in Taiwan is the highest mountain in East Asia and the fourth highest mountain on an island. In the past, Yushan was known among English-speaking expats and missionaries as Mt. Morrison, thought to have been named in honor of the 19th century missionary Robert Morrison. Today, the mountain is referred to as Yushan or Jade Mountain. In the winter, Yushan is often capped with thick snow which makes the entire peak shine like stainless jade, hence its name. On July 21, 2009. Yushan was elected one of 28 finalists in the New7Wonders of Nature voting campaign. It even had held the top position in the “Mountains and Volcanos” category on the list of first round voting of the 77 nominees ended on July 7, 2009. Yushan and surrounding mountains belong to Yushan Range, which is part of Yushan National Park in Taiwan. Yushan National Park is Taiwan's largest, highest and least accessible national park. It contains the largest tract of wilderness remaining in Taiwan and is also valued for its pristine forests and faunal diversity, including many endemic species. The highest point of Yushan range, Yushan, is 3,952 metres (12,966 ft) above sea level. Yushan was once in the ocean and raised to the current height because the Eurasian Plate slid under the neighboring Philippine Sea Plate. The ocean waters off Taiwan's east coast are deep; in fact, submarine slopes plunge down to the Pacific Ocean at a grade of 1:10 and the ocean reaches a depth of more than 4,000 metres (13,100 ft) about 50 kilometres (30 mi) from the coast. From this perspective, Yushan is even more magnificent if you consider it rises 8,000 metres (26,200 ft) steeply from the nearby ocean floor in such a short distance — est 100 kilometres (60 mi). 

Geography and geology

The island of Taiwan is situated at the intersection of two tectonic plates — the Eurasian Plate and the Philippine Sea Plate. Even as “recently” as the late Paleozoic (some 250 million years ago), the land here was still but a sedimentary seabed layered with silt and sand. As the two plates began pressing against each other, the land buckled, bent, and created the landscape — 165 mountains higher than 3,000 m (9,800 ft) above sea level on a small island (38th in the world).
Yushan is also notable in containing the highest point on the Tropic of Cancer and the only point on that circle of latitude where there is any evidence of Quaternary glaciation. As recently as seventeen thousand years ago, permanent ice caps existed throughout Taiwan’s highest mountains and extended owing to the wet climate down to 2,800 metres (9,190 ft); whereas currently the nearest glaciers to the Tropic of Cancer are in Mexico on the Iztaccíhuatl volcano.


With panoramic views, overlapping mountains, and deep, plunging valleys, Yushan National Park is well known for its scenery, sunrises, sunsets, geological features, and views of the clouds from above. Sea of clouds often fill the valleys. Indisputably, Yushan itself is the focal point of the Park.
Yushan is one of the favorites among Taiwanese mountain climbers. International peak baggers often combine a trip to Yushan along with trips to Gunung Kinabalu and Fuji to form an "Asian Trilogy" hiking experience.
Yushan has five main peaks with the Main Peak being the most popular:
  • Yuhshan Main Peak, 3,952 m (12,966 ft)
  • Yuhshan Eastern Peak, 3,869 m (12,694 ft) — 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi) from Main Peak
  • Yuhshan Northern Peak, 3,858 m (12,657 ft) — 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) from Wind Tunnel
  • Yuhshan Southern Peak, 3,844 m (12,612 ft) — 3.1 kilometres (1.9 mi) from Paiyun Lodge
  • Yuhshan Western Peak, 3,467 m (11,375 ft) — 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) from Paiyun Lodge
East, west, north, and south peaks surround the main summit. The east peak rises to a height of 3,869 m (12,694 ft) and is considered one of Taiwan's Ten Major Summits. The south peak is a sharp pinnacle of black shale. The relatively accessible west side of Yushan is covered with thick forests. The north peak is part of a long, gently-rising ridge; this peak consists of two high points that resemble a camel's humps. The North Peak is also home to Taiwan's highest permanently occupied building, the Yushan Weather Station, where the occasional visitors are given a warm welcome.

Flora and fauna

Taiwan, with the tropic of Cancer across the center of the island, has a climate between tropical and subtropical. The average temperature is 22 °C (72 °F). Here low elevation areas support evergreen broadleaved forests. As elevation increases, evergreen broadleaved forests are gradually replaced by deciduous forests and coniferous forests. At mountain peaks with alpine conditions, only mosses, liverworts and occasionally grasses can be found on the ground.
All of the above vegetation variations can be seen in the Yushan area from low foothills to high summits with an elevation difference of 3.6 kilometres (2.2 mi). Because this wide climatic and vegetation variations, this environment nurtures the richest and most diversified wildlife in Taiwan. Preliminary investigations reveal that there are 130 species of birds, 28 species of mammals, 17 species of reptiles, 12 species of amphibians and 186 species of butterflies in Yushan National Park. In fact, Yushan is nicknamed "the ark" by academics who see it as a repository of Taiwan's rare species. It is almost an encyclopedia of Taiwan's ecological systems, a geological museum and an important habitat of one-third of Taiwan's endemic species, such as:
  • Formosan Serow
  • Reeves's Muntjac
  • Formosan Black Bear
  • Formosan Blue Magpie
  • Formosan Rock Macaque
  • Hemimyzon taitungensis and Varicorhinus tamusuiensis (Oshima) — Two unique fish species living in the Lekuleku River area.


Jade Mountain was first observed by westerners in 1857. W. Morrison, captain of the American freighter SS Alexander, sighted this mountain while departing from Anping Harbor, in what is now Anping, Tainan. He recorded this sighting in his naval log, and the mountain gained the name Mount Morrison in western literature.
In 1900, after the annexation of Taiwan by the Japanese, two Japanese anthropologists, Torii Ryūzō and Mori Ushinosuke, became the first people to have been recorded ascending the mountain. They gave the mountain the name Niitakayama or Mount Niitaka, literally the "New High Mountain", because it was even higher than Mount Fuji in Japan (was Empire of Japan) by 176 metres (577 ft). In 1937, Niitakayama was designated part of the Niitaka (New Highest) Arisan National Park.
Under its Japanese name, the mountain was used as the secret code to signal the carrier fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy to begin its attack against Pearl Harbor. The code was Niitakayama Nobore (literally "Climb the New High Mountain").
In 1966 a large bronze statue of Yu Youren was placed at the summit. The statue remained there until 1996 when it was cut down and thrown into a ravine by Taiwan independence activists.
In recent years, Yushan has played an important role in a new focus on Taiwan's identity. Because its iconic status, Yushan has been chosen to be the background of the newly issued NT $1,000 dollar bills on 20 July 2005. Similarly, a newly found asteroid by Lulin Observatory of National Central University was named after Yushan on December 28, 2007.


Based on the data shown on Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan, the figure on the right shows the monthly mean precipitation (unit: mm) of Yushan from 1971 to 2000.
Average annual rainfall in the Yushan area is about 3,600 mm. It rains an average of 140 days per year, mostly between May and August. From May until the first part of June is plum rain season or monsoon season. Taiwan's typhoon season roughly falls between July and September. The peak month is in August. Overall speaking, summers are wet and winters relatively dry in Yushan.
Yushan has an alpine climate (Köppen ET). From September to April, the Yushan area is often covered with frost. However, due to strong wind, the frost level is not high, except in the valleys. At elevations above 2,000 meters, there is snow. At elevations of 3,000 meters or more, there are four consecutive months of snow accumulation. The first snow may appear in October and completely melts by May. Snow falls 24.3 days per year on average on Yushan, which is less than in the previous ten years. At lower elevations, snow may fall only 0.6 days per year. Snow mostly falls in January and February.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hehuan Mountain possesses highest point in Taiwan accessible by public roads

Hehuanshan (also called Joy Mountain) is a 3,416 metres (11,207 ft) high mountain in Central Taiwan. The peak lies on the boundaries of Nantou and Hualien counties and is within the Taroko Gorge National Park. Hehuanshan is a popular destination for the local people of central Taiwan. The 3,421-metre East Peak and 3,422-metre North Peak of Hehuanshan are actually both higher than the main peak.


Snow, rare in the rest of Taiwan, is relatively common on the mountain during winter months. The Hehuanshan Road leads most of the way up the mountain to Wuling, a saddle between the Main Peak and the East Peak of Hehuanshan. Wuling is the highest point on the island of Taiwan accessible by public roads.
Originally, there was a ski lift on the mountain, but later, due to the inconsistency of snowfall, the lift was removed.
From the Hehuanshan Road, a trail about one kilometer long leads to the summit of the main peak. At the summit, there is a weather station.
Hehuanshan is part of the Central Mountain Range that makes up the backbone of Taiwan.


In the past, a military training area was built in the proximity of Hehuanshan. The mountain range also features the remains of a ski lift, reportedly used by Taiwan's elite during the martial law period and inaccessible to most people. The unreliability of snowfall has meant that the ski lift was abandoned years ago.

Hehuanshan Road

The Hehuanshan Road is currently the only paved road leading across the Central Mountains from Taichung City to Hualien via the famous Taroko Gorge. The Central Cross-Island Highway, which originally crossed the mountains north of Hehuanshan, was damaged during the September 21, 1999 Earthquake and had been under repair for five years afterwards. But prior to its re-opening disaster struck again in form of a typhoon and it was decided to keep it closed indefinitely.
The Hehuanshan Road leads up from Puli in central Nantou past Wushe (Ren-ai) and Chingjing Farm up to Wuling. Wuling, at 3,275 metres above sea level, is the highest automobile pass in Taiwan. The road is narrow and winding throughout, and is considered a dangerous and difficult road by many drivers. This road often becomes clogged in winter, when many locals travel up the mountain to see snow. Recently, after several incidents, buses and large trucks were barred from this stretch of road.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Hallasan highest peak in South Korea

Crater lakes on Hallasan
Hallasan is a shield volcano on Jeju Island of South Korea. Hallasan is the highest mountain of South Korea. The area around the mountain is a designated national park, the Hallasan National Park (Hallasan Gungnip Gongwon). Hallasan is commonly considered to be one of the three main mountains of South Korea, with Jirisan and Seoraksan being the other two.  


Alternate names for the mountain include Hanla Mountain or Mount Halla and older English sources refer to the peak as Mount Auckland. Hallasan is written in North Korea in Chosungul as if it were Hannasan ; however, it is still pronounced as Hallasan. In the past, Hallasan has been known by numerous other names in Korean including Buag, Wonsan, Jinsan, Seonsan, Dumuag, Burasan, Yeongjusan, and Hyeolmangbong.  

Geology and geography 

Hallasan is a massive shield volcano which forms the bulk of Jeju Island and is often taken as representing the island itself. There is a local saying stating that "Jeju Island is Hallasan; and Hallasan is Jeju." The mountain can indeed be seen from all places on the island, but its peak is often covered in clouds. The mountain has been designated Korea's Natural Monument no. 182. The volcanic island was constructed starting in the Pliocene epoch atop the continental shelf, which is presently about 100 m (300 ft) below sea level in that area. Eruptions of basalt and trachyte lava built the island above sea level, and it now reaches a height of 1,950 metres (6,398 ft). A large volcanic crater over 400 m (1,300 ft) in diameter tops the volcano. About 360 parasitic cones, or oreum in the Jeju dialect, are found on the volcano's flanks. Most of them are cinder cones and scoria cones, but there are also some lava domes and about 20 tuff rings near the coast and offshore, which were formed by underwater phreatic eruptions. The most recent eruptions occurred on the flanks in 1002 and 1007. Crater lakes on Hallasan. There is a crater lake on Hallasan called Baengnokdam, literally "white deer lake." There is a legend attributing the name of the lake to otherworldly men who descend from heaven to play with white deer. Depending on the season, the circumference of the lake is up to 2 kilometres with a depth up to about 100 meters.  

A view at the top (2008)


The mountain is home to Gwaneumsa, the oldest Buddhist temple on the island. The temple was originally built during the Goryeo Dynasty. Like many other temples in Korea, Gwaneumsa was destroyed and rebuilt in the 20th century. There is a memorial site outside the temple, remembering the victims of the Jeju uprising that took place between 1948 and 1950. It is one of the most visited places of the island. 


There are five hiking trails on Hallasan. They are:
  • Gwaneumsa Trail  - 8.7 km
  • Eorimok Trail  - 4.7 km
  • Seongpanak Trail  - 9.6 km
  • Yeongsil Trail  - 3.7 km
  • Donnaeko Trail  - 9.1 km
The Donnaeko trail was officially reopened to the public on December 4, 2009, after a fifteen year hiatus. Only the Gwaneumsa and Seongpanak trails lead to the summit. The Donnaeko, Eorimok and Yeongsil courses only go as far as Witse Oreum, as the rest of the trail leading to the peak has been closed off since 1994 in order to restore and protect the vegetation.

A monument at the gate of Seonphanak trail

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