July 01, 2015

"Mount Fuji, which last erupted in 1707, could spew more than a cubic kilometer of ash up to 33,000 feet into the air."

Stars and Stripes Mount Fuji’s climbing season has arrived, and local governments surrounding the iconic volcano — spurred on by intensifying volcanic activity throughout the Japanese archipelago — are taking steps to protect climbers in case of an unexpected eruption. By Aaron Kidd

'Helmets, goggles and dust masks have been distributed by prefectural and city governments at the mountain’s stations and lodges. Supplies are limited, however, and climbers — which can number almost 9,000 on some days — are being urged to bring their own safety equipment. Maps showing evacuation routes will also be available.

'“It is the first time for me to prepare helmets for climbers,” Yoshiko Yamamoto, who has operated Hakuunso lodge at the eighth station for 20 years, told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. “If an emergency occurs, we will lend them to climbers and guide them quickly for evacuation.”

'Helmets are not mandatory, but travel companies that organize trips to Mount Fuji have been asked to encourage guests to bring them and other safety equipment.'

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