Easy walk from parking lot, but altitude was noticeable.
Took a break from snorkeling and body surfing (more like getting beat by the surf) on the 85 degree Kona coast to catch one of the world’s best sunsets. Simply amazing mountain, island, and sunset. If driving to the top is cheating, well then we cheated. Still hiked/climbed the last .2 miles to the true summit though! The Big Island is spectacular, where else can you swim with huge green sea turtles and tropical fish and in less than three hours be on a snow-capped mountain. Best sunset I have ever experienced, surreal experience. Hard to leave the Island, can't wait to go back.
Well, we drove up to the top first, but I did walk the trail out to the true summit, which is no easy feat, considering it's almost 14,000 feet and we started at sea level. Take it each step at a time.
Walked from the ocean to the summit. Started at 5am on April 17th, walked to 7000 feet in about 11 hours, covered 32 miles. Rested over night, started at sunrise on April 18th, walked to the vistor center and then took the trail to the summit, took about 6 hours. A friend supported me most of the trip and drove me down from the top. Walking beside the road was a little scary when there was traffic. This was my 50th State highpoint. Happy to be done.
My main motivation for visiting the big island during our vacation in Hawaii was to bag this peak. I started around 7am at the visitors center. The trail was very easy to follow the whole way. I was at the top in just under 3 hours. I spent about 20 minutes on top. I was surprised that I was comfortable in shorts and a T-shirt (poly, of course) on top. My watch said that it was 63 degrees. I scampered back to the bottom in just over 1 hour; stopping at the lake on the way down. I wiped out once on the way down.. :) I was surprised that I had no ill affects from the altitude; no headaches, and only moderate fatigue and loss of appetite. Overall, the hike was pretty boring, but it was great to get in such a workout during my trip to the islands...
Not many places in the world where you can drive up a volcano to 13,700 feet! Two of us, my wife and I, took the Mauna Kea Road to the observatories at the top, then walked the short trail to the actual summit high point. The place is truely otherworldly, and the colors looking down on the tops of the clouds at sunset were spectacular. At one place along the road, the snow plow had cut through drifts 6 feet high (although the road itself was clear), and there was considerable snow coverage on various cinder cones that dot the summit. A couple of folks were snowboarding (having driven up to the top after a morning of surfing!).
Yes, it can snow in Hawaii. Now I have a photo of myself on the summit to show to my city-folk friends who laughed at me when I spoke of snow in Hawaii.
Nice drive up the auto road. I encountered some snow near the summit. Temps were near freezing with 40-50 MPH winds. The views from the top are awesome.
Nice short walk using my rental jeep to get to the observatories then the trail to the summit. But hey I was on my honeymoon. No drinks with umbrellas on this adventure! Still got to see Lake Lake Waiau at 3,969 m (13,020 ft). Great views and unworldly scenery. Jan 2002
Arrived near the observatories early enough to see the Keck with its window bay doors still open. Nice views from the summit.
I rode my bike up the road, then walked over to the top; I don't know if this counts. First I rode up to the cabins in the saddle, then I took a day off to acclimatize. Actually getting to the summit was not so bad, but it was a bit of a slog and I had to walk a short piece of the unpaved section of the road, since I could not maintain traction on the loose surface. This is certainly one of the great bikeable climbs.
How many 13,798 foot mountains can you climb in a rental car!? To be sure, there is the more difficult route from the visitors center at 9000 feet but for a quickie adventure this is tops. The actual summit is a few hundred feet from the observatories and topped with a native Hawiian altar. On 9/5/03 it was about 55 degrees with little wind and great views all around.
My girlfriend and I hiked the trail from the Visitor center, stopping at the Lake for quite a while where we got engaged. Beautiful day. She stayed at the lake while I ran up the trail to tag the summit.
Fun hike. Cool ranger gave us a ride to the Reserve boundary at 10000 feet. I didn't keep time, but I seem to remember summitting 3 hours after we started hiking. The ranger gave us a ride down! Pretty windy all day, temperatures around 35° F on the summit at 11:30.
Very windy at the top. A Spring Equinox ritual the day before left fresh offerings of pineapples, flowers, money, fish, and other offerings on the small shrine at the summit. The telescopes of the observatory seemed to be a natural element of the landscape, rather than a violation of it, as manmade structures often seem to be in high places. Cool! Definitely recommend the hike up. You can see up close the adze quarries where the Hawaiians made their adzes. Kahunas lived in caves (still there) where they made the adzes. Support crews would bring them water and other supplies.
The ascent is strenous, but very uniformly steep (it being volcanic and all), so it is easy to get into a rhythm. Hiking it really gives a sense of the scale of the mountain. You look across to Mauna Loa and really feel a sense of the mass of that peak, considering how much wider it is than Mauna Kea.
Confession: Though we walked to the summit from the trailhead about 700ft above the Onuzuka Visitor Center, we got a ride down from the summit from a University of Hawaii ranger patrolling the mountain. He offered us a ride up, more than once, and we just couldn't refuse his hospitality. The prospect of talking to a native Hawaiin was much more interesting than slogging the trail back for purity's sake. I enjoyed the ride down the mountain because of his insights and information about the history of Mauna Kea to the Hawaiin people, the politics surrounding the observatory, and the condition of Hawaiians in general.
Wow, what a place! The whole island is amazing, it has everything from S. American lush rain forests, to Southwest US scrub brush and desert landscapes, to white/black/green sand beaches, snowy mountains, active volcanoes ... you name it!
Arrived by 4WD vehicle before sunset and drive from 0ft to almost 14,000ft was a bit much, as you can imagine. As long as you took it easy, no worries, move around too much ... at least one guy was throwing up quite bad.
The top was surprisingly calm with absolutely no wind and chilly. The beaches were around 85-90 degrees F and the summit was around 45 degrees F. That all changes after sunset, the temperature dropped like a rock and even 2-3 layers and winter parkas didn't keep the cold away. Remember that acclimitization, which we didn't do, would have helped in body heating since the body can't do it very well up there.
The views were amazing, especially with the cloud cover around the island. All of the major volanoes were visibile, Hualailai, Kohala, Mauna Loa, etc. The observatories were also very interesting and majestic sitting on top of the world here in the middle of the ocean.
Very impressive place, must experience it.
OK, so I didn't walk up it. My wife & I rented a 4-Runner in Hilo & drove up. However, at near top, we got out, froze our arses off, & walked the last little bit to the top where the altar is made on the summit, w/ the US geological marker. Killer views (360 degrees) and an amazing view of Mauna Loa. As a mountaineer, I just wanted to stand (technically speaking) on the highest mountain on earth (from the sea floor to above sea level), considering, I'll probably never reach the summit of Everest. It was a trip, to be in shorts in the warm sun at Hilo, and then literally drive up Saddle Road, and up, up, up to over 13,000 feet from sea level, and see snow in Hawaii! I won't forget this day!
As part of the Sea to Sky relay race I ran the Marathon leg starting at about 1300m asl and then up form there.
I think my end time was something like 4 20 min all I know I finished but I do not remember much past the 3500m mark except there was a truck in front of me all the way up.
I and two chaps from the USMC were the only ones to finish that day. Only about 20~30 runners and most droped out before the peak becuse it was about 35c out and about 100% humidity.
I the two Mariens came in at about the same time and were driven quickly down and after about 2 hours I remember waking up next to the pair of them in an air conditioned ambulace at the bottom to the peak.