Climbing Mt. Fuji
Bundled up in wool sweaters and thick coats, and we watched (16) the sun setting on Mt. Fuji in Japan. It was August and our clothes were stifling, but we would have needed(17) the warmth from our bodies sealed around us as we hiked into the high altitudes. Three friends and I stepped away from the crowd of other hikers and spoke our intention: “Sunset at the
base, sunrise at the top.” [A]

As we hiked, a patchwork of clouds swept across the darkening sky, hiding all traces of our surroundings outside our flashlights’ beams. The trail gradually changed from compact dirt to a jumble of volcanic rocks. [B] We tried to steady ourselves with our walking sticks but slipped and stumbled because of the jumbled rocks we were slipping on.(18)

Every thousand feet, we came to a small station constructed of tin and cement, barely able to block the wind. At each one, we noted the roof piled high on(19) fallen rocks and felt both unsettled and reassured by this evidence of the station’s protective ability. We rested uneasily for a moment as a clerk burned the station brand into our walking sticks which it was proof of (20) our progress through the darkness.

As we neared the summit, the whole group of hikers—thinly spread across the mountain for most (21) of the route—condensed, forming(22) an illuminated line along the trail. [C] Our pace slowed. Progressing along the trail,(23) we reached the summit just five minutes before dawn. [D]In the half-light of the rising sun:(24) we began to make
out the dark lines of the cliffs’ at the crater’s(25) edge. We crouched down on jutting pieces of rock and waited for
the shifting clouds to clear. We waited for the sun. (26)

Generally(27), a sudden gap in the clouds left us blinking as the sunlight squelched out(28) the severe landscape of gray volcanic rock. We leaned against each other, spent. Perhaps there is truth in the old Japanese saying: A wise man climbs Mt. Fuji, but only a fool climbs it twice


  • B. even though we used our walking sticks. 

  • C. despite any efforts to remain steady. .

  • D. with each step