Mt Fuji climbers to be offered safety gear including helmets

Mt Fuji climbers to be offered safety gear including helmets
The almost perfectly-symmetrical outline of Mount Fuji.

FUJINOMIYA, Shizuoka - About 3,100 climbing helmets will be located at mountain cottages and other facilities on four paths up Mt. Fuji to enhance the safety of climbers, it has been learned.

The move comes in the wake of the volcanic disaster in September on Mt. Ontake, which straddles the border of Nagano and Gifu prefectures. The local governments plan to distribute the helmets by the first day of the mountain's climbing season in July.

About 620 climbing helmets will be distributed on three routes - Fujinomiya, Gotemba and Subashiri - from the Shizuoka Prefecture side. The cost will be covered by subsidies from the prefectural government.

About 115,000 people used the three routes last summer, according to the prefectural government. The helmets are unlikely to cover all climbers, so municipalities will also call for climbers to bring their own helmets.

For the Fujinomiya route, 200 sets of safety goods - each comprising a helmet, mask and goggles - will be distributed. Twenty sets will be distributed to each mountain cottage, and 40 sets will be placed at a rest house located at the Fifth Station.

About 120 sets are planned to be distributed to the Gotemba route, while about 300 sets are planned for the Subashiri route, but the numbers are yet to be finalized. An official of the Gotemba municipal government in charge of the project said, "We want to be ready by the start of the climbing season."

Megaphones will also be placed on the three routes, which will be used to notify climbers in case of disasters.

Yoshimasa Yamaguchi, head of an association that comprises mountain cottages of the Fujinomiya route, says climbers should bring helmets when climbing.

"There are many rocky areas [on the route]," he said. "Helmets can help avoid injuries should climbers trip on something."

About 2,500 helmets are scheduled to be placed on the Yoshida route from the Yamanashi Prefecture side, with 1,500 of them already purchased by the prefectural government.

The helmets, which are currently stored at the government's facility at the Fifth Station, will be divided among nine facilities, including a stand at the Fifth Station and rest areas.

The remaining 1,000 will be distributed to 16 mountain cottages through a subsidy of the Fuji-Yoshida municipal government.

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