Ascent of Mauna Kea on 2013-01-02

Climber: Rob Woodall

Date:Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mauna Kea
    Elevation:13796 ft / 4205 m

Ascent Trip Report

I visited this summit on the afternoon of my Haleakala ascent: one at sunrise, one at sunset. The tiny Mokulule plane got me into Kona at 3pm and with an efficient rental car pickup, a pre sunset arrival was suddenly a possibility.

Saddle Road seems to get bad press, but is pretty good nowadays. The initial western section is a little narrow with short single-lane bridges, but the rest of its length is wide and modern, as is the section east to Hilo. The advice is to call at the visitor centre about 6 miles along the Mauna Kea Access Road for road condition information, but as I can see half a dozen vehicles ahead of me and there is no hint of snow, I keep going. The middle 4 miles is unpaved and in places quite steep. My Jeep Liberty manages without 4WD being engaged.

I park by a building opposite the start of the trail N19.82207 W155.47062 and a 5 minute walk gets me to the summit, which is marked by a cairn (N19.82074 W155.46810, 4225m)and a benchmark raised a foot above ground on a metal rod. It is notable that my GPS reads fully 20 metres higher than the expected value: this is well outside expected error range. I wander about 100m southwest along a ridge for a better view of Mauna Loa across a cloud sea. The sunset doesn't amount to much but there is a pink/orange band which sets off the observatory buildings quite nicely.

There are 20 or so folk up there including an Austrian couple and two German lads. I head down at 6 pm, wandering around the back of the observatories, finding a couple more photographic subjects before the light fails and I drive back down. The Jeep feels quite secure on the steep looser sections in 1st gear at the 25mph limit.

I head south to Hilo for dinner, with a Mauna Loa ascent in prospect for tomorrow.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:114 ft / 33 m
    Extra Gain:16 ft / 4 m
    Distance:0.4 mi / 0.6 km
    Route:Summit trail
    Trailhead:Access Road near summit  13714 ft / 4180 m
    Grade/Class:YDS 1
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:5 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:5 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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