Mauna Kea: driving to summit

Regional discussion and conditions reports for Oceania and the Pacific Islands. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the Oceania Climbing Partners section.
User Avatar
forjan

 
Posts: 391
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2001 5:26 pm
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

Mauna Kea: driving to summit

by forjan » Fri Sep 15, 2006 2:10 am

Can a regular 2WD car make it to the summit area of Manua Kea?

User Avatar
johnm

 
Posts: 438
Joined: Wed May 03, 2006 4:29 am
Thanked: 43 times in 28 posts

by johnm » Fri Sep 15, 2006 2:27 am

Check here:

http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/mko/visiting.htm

Visiting Mauna Kea Observatories

If you would like to visit Mauna Kea Observatory we recommend that you begin at the Visitor Information Station of the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy at the 9,000-foot level on the Mauna Kea access road. At the center you can learn about the mountain, the telescopes, and the Universe, buy souvenirs and view the stars after dark through our portable telescopes.

You can also drive to the 14,000-foot summit of Mauna Kea to view the domes of the main observatory itself, but you need to be aware that;

* Ordinary vehicles cannot cope with the steep, unpaved road; you will need to obtain a four-wheel drive vehicle, or take a commercial tour

User Avatar
regolithe

 
Posts: 57
Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2006 4:01 am
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

Depends on the vehicle

by regolithe » Fri Sep 15, 2006 4:04 am

I've been there....

I disagree. While I certainly wouldn't take a small low clearance vehicle, I did take a two wheel drive to the summit. It was a truck, but it was stock. Like a Toyota Tacoma or something. I think they post that clause in those publications because the rental agencies don't like their vehicles driven on the saddle road. It is a sketchy road, but it's paved almost the whole way to the summit, and IS paved all the way across the island from Kona to Hilo, albeit the paving looks like it was done when Lincoln was in the white house...

Just take it slow, and you'll be fine.

User Avatar
Scott

 
Posts: 8274
Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2003 1:03 pm
Thanked: 1124 times in 584 posts

by Scott » Fri Sep 15, 2006 4:56 am

Just take it slow, and you'll be fine.


I agree unless the road has gotten rougher. If you have a rental, don't tell them about it though. We made it up in a Ford Escort back in 1995, but it's possible that the road may have gotten rougher?

User Avatar
forjan

 
Posts: 391
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2001 5:26 pm
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

by forjan » Wed Sep 20, 2006 2:55 am

Scott Patterson wrote:
Just take it slow, and you'll be fine.


I agree unless the road has gotten rougher. If you have a rental, don't tell them about it though. We made it up in a Ford Escort back in 1995, but it's possible that the road may have gotten rougher?


Thanks, Scott. I'm not sure what I'll get from the rental car company in Kona, but I guess it will probably be a Chevrolet Cavalier, Mitsubishi Mirage or similar.

User Avatar
Matt Worster

 
Posts: 388
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 12:08 pm
Thanked: 10 times in 5 posts

by Matt Worster » Wed Sep 20, 2006 9:20 pm

I have heard the same as David. I plan on being there in two weeks, though, so I need to run down the same info. forjan, when do you plan on being there?

User Avatar
moneal

 
Posts: 41
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2005 12:48 pm
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

by moneal » Wed Sep 20, 2006 10:40 pm

I drove up it a few years ago in a Chevy Blazer. I was amazed at how I had it floored and yet was only going 25 mph. I saw several small'ish cars that made it all the way to the top, though I was much happier in the SUV. The road is really in pretty good shape. And yes, don't tell the rental company about your plans. I think I took that SUV to everyone of the banned locations in the rental agreement. It was so bad I took it through a car wash before returning it. Make sure you visit the true high point while you're up there. Also consider sticking around at night for the free astronomy nights at the visitor center at 9,000 ft.


Mark

User Avatar
SkydiveKen

 
Posts: 100
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2005 1:11 am
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

by SkydiveKen » Thu Sep 21, 2006 12:12 am

I was up there last year and saw 2wd on top even the workers were using 2wd pick ups. I rented a 4wd blazer and the rental agreement specifically to stay off the saddle road. The roads to the beaches were much worse. Take it easy on the brakes coming down.

User Avatar
forjan

 
Posts: 391
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2001 5:26 pm
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

by forjan » Thu Sep 21, 2006 6:56 am

Matt Worster wrote:I have heard the same as David. I plan on being there in two weeks, though, so I need to run down the same info. forjan, when do you plan on being there?


Thanks everyone for your comments.

Matt, I will be in the Big Island right after Thanksgiving. My actual plan is to start from the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy (OCIA) parking lot (9,200') and hike the standard Mauna Kea Trail to the summit......meanwhile my friend will drive the rental car from OCIA and meet me at the summit for a ride down.

--Miguel Forjan

User Avatar
RomaK

 
Posts: 75
Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2005 6:26 pm
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

by RomaK » Thu Sep 21, 2006 7:38 am

It is possible to make it to the summit in a 2WD car, even if it's not especially high clearance. You have to be much more careful with a 2WD car, which means not stopping in particularly steep sections on the way up, etc.

User Avatar
Herb

 
Posts: 12
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2005 10:42 am
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

2WD vs. 4WD

by Herb » Thu Sep 21, 2006 9:12 am

I was there in 2004 - very nice trip...

Officially it is not allowed to drive up the Saddle road to Mauna Kea with "standard" rental cars (so you shouldn't tell them, if you do so...)

There is one company specialised in 4WD rentals: "Harper Car and Truck Rentals" in Hilo and Kona (all details you can find in the web: http://www.harpershawaii.com )

We rented a car there - the service quality was good and the price reasonable.

You can go up with a 2WD without problems (we even saw a convertible on the highest point of the street) - the fun factor with a 4WD is obviously higher ;)).

The street quality (even in the rougher and steeper sections) is not the problem. Of course you should have some experience in driving on mountain roads!

The only problem could be the setting of the carburetor because of the height: the mixture of gas and air might be not balanced, if the setting is for sea-level and your car might break down...
But - we haven't seen a single car in troubles.

Anyway - whether you do it with a 2WD or a 4WD: enjoy your trip!

Regards,
Herbert
Last edited by Herb on Thu Sep 21, 2006 9:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

User Avatar
Corax

 
Posts: 1242
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2004 12:13 pm
Thanked: 16 times in 8 posts

by Corax » Thu Sep 21, 2006 9:30 am

Not answering the original question really, but on a side note I can mention; A friend of mine cycled all the way to the summit. He said it was a fantastic ride, going all the way from sea level to 4200m in a day. Not a thing you can do in many places on earth. It was warm when starting and freezing cold in the end. He also had a short spell with altitude headache on the way down.
A simple map on Volcanic Seven Summits page


Return to Oceania and Pacific Islands

 


  • Related topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests