Camp Fuji Marines, sailors climb a wonder of Japan

U.S. Marine Corps Col. Michael D. Rilley, right, commanding officer, Combined Arms Training Center (CATC) Camp Fuji, summits Mount Fuji alongside over 40 members of his command on July 19, 2019 in Shizuoka, Japan. CATC personnel hiked the mountain to enhance unit-wide morale and provide an opportunity for them to appreciate one of Japan's natural wonders. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Timothy)
U.S. Marine Corps Col. Michael D. Rilley, right, commanding officer, Combined Arms Training Center (CATC) Camp Fuji, summits Mount Fuji alongside over 40 members of his command on July 19, 2019 in Shizuoka, Japan. CATC personnel hiked the mountain to enhance unit-wide morale and provide an opportunity for them to appreciate one of Japan's natural wonders. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Timothy)

Camp Fuji Marines, sailors climb a wonder of Japan

by Lance Cpl. Brennan Beauton
U.S. Marine Corps

FUJINOMIYA, SHIZUOKA PREFECTURE, Japan -- What would it be like to have an active volcano in your backyard? Marines and sailors, assigned to the Combined Arms Training Center, Camp Fuji, wake up every morning to one of the world’s most prominent natural wonders, Mount Fuji.

CATC personnel worked cohesively to reach the mountain’s summit after a challenging six-hour climb to build unit morale.

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Aylicia Stover, a motor transportation operator and a native of Charlotte, NC assigned to CATC, has been stationed at Camp Fuji since September 2018, and has yet to climb the dormant volcano she wakes up to everyday.

“I’ve been looking at this mountain everyday since I’ve been here, so to be here, it’s a once in a lifetime experience and a privilege.” said Stover, as she descended on the Gotemba Trail of Mount Fuji.

Stover said she was very humbled to have had the chance to experience something that so many people travel around the world to see.

“People spend thousands of dollars to be able to experience this opportunity, and I get to live right next to a world-heritage site and see it everyday,” said Stover. “To not take advantage of the opportunity, would be a disgrace.”

Unlike Stover, Col. Michael D. Reilly, commanding officer of CATC Camp Fuji, has been up and down Mount Fuji four times, this being his fifth.

“Our installation is right at the base of the mountain, and climbing season is really short,” said Reilly. It is only about two and a half months. So during this time period, it is absolutely important to take advantage of every opportunity to get the Marines and sailors up here to climb it.”

Reilly said that hikers never know what kind of weather that mountains have in store for them.

“This experience isn't that bad. Its cold, its windy, and a little bit rainy,” said Reilly, as gusting winds and rain fell sideways. “Most folks don't understand that it is a climb more than a hike, hikers may not be ready for the riggers of it.”

First-time hiker, Stover was not going to let the elements stop her from reaching Mount Fuji’s summit.

“I thought it was very challenging,” she said. “At the beginning of the hike, the weather was very nice, but when we got to the halfway point it became very cold and started to rain and sleet. It was tough mentally and physically.”

The 12.6 mile climb up one of Japan’s most famous wonders is no easy feat, especially in one day, according to Reilly.

“This is the highest peak in all of Japan. It’s over 12,000 feet high. It has a great ability to bring out a range of emotions in people. Emotions from joy to utter despair.”

CATC Camp Fuji provides U.S. Forces the premier training facility in Japan, supports operational plans, and strengthens relationships with Joint and Japanese partners in order to ensure U.S. forward deployed and based forces are ready for contingency operations.

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