If you're considering trekking Mount Fuji this year, look sharp — just four weeks remain of the official open season. But if you're making last-minute plans for an ascent of those conical 3,776 meters, think carefully about what you're taking on. Unless, that is, you've always pictured yourself summiting on all fours during a white-out, drenched to the skin. As I did.

I'd lived in Japan for six years but had never quite got round to climbing its national icon, although I'd absorbed all the lore: that Fuji was a doddle; that busloads of sprightly Japanese centenarians hiked it every year; that the summit at sunrise was the most beautiful sight in all Japan — if not the universe.

I also knew the famous proverb about climbing the mountain — and I'm going to attempt a world-first in Fuji-hike literature by not including it here.