Ascent of Mauna Kea on 2009-07-17

Climber: Caj Svensson

Others in Party:Eva
Date:Friday, July 17, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mauna Kea
    Elevation:13796 ft / 4205 m

Ascent Trip Report

Early morning on our second day at the Big Island, we went for an attempt to climb Mauna Kea. Well... climbing is a bit of an over statement. The trail is good and easy to follow, but it is 14 miles round-trip and involves an elevation gain of about 4600 ft. So, I guess it's more like a strenuous hike.
Anyhow, at 5 am Thursday, July 17, we loaded the Jeep with our gear and headed off to the mountain, reached the trail head 1h15m later and were ready to head up the hill at 6:45 am. We had earlier decided to do this as a hike-up, instead of a drive-up, which is the most common way to reach the summit. We just thought that being our last highpoint we couldn't just take the car and drive to the summit. That would not give us the same feeling of accomplishment reaching the summit in that way.
Since we had not really acclimated to altitude at all, we expected some hard work beeing ahead of us, and we were right. It was a tough and slowgoing climb, but what a landscape... Like on the moon. The trail winded around cinder cones going up, up, up. Everywhere we looked around us was lava, and more lava, and looking down we saw the cinder cones from above. Most of them had perfect circular cones on the top of them. You have to see it!
After about 6 mi on the sandy trail we merged with the road, and the last mile to the summit is actually on the road. There was almost no cars at all, and the road is nice and with a wide shoulder. When reaching the top of the road the wind picked up and we geared up before hitting the last section of the trail, about 1/4 miles, to the true summit.

And... at 11:30 am we reached the summit. After 7 yrs 10 mns and 16 days from our first high point (PA Sept 1, 2001) we had reached no. 50! A tear or two could be seen in our eyes.
We hang out at the summit for half an hour, taking pictures and enjoying the views. We headed down to the telescopes and found a nice calm spot for lunch, and left the top of Mauna Kea 12:30 pm. We reached the visitor center again @ 2:45pm making it a 14 mi, 8 hour round trip.

Well back at the hotel we celebrated with some champagne - the big celebration (with steak and beer) took place in Leadville, CO, with all our hiking partners from other peaks. And of course, with Daryl Harmon, a really good friend of ours who attempted he's 50th highpoint, Mt Elbert, about ten days later.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4556 ft / 1388 m
    Total Elevation Loss:4556 ft / 1388 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4556 ft / 1388 m
    Distance:7 mi / 11.3 km
    Start Trailhead:9240 ft / 2816 m
    Time:4 Hours 45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:4556 ft / 1388 m
    End Trailhead:9240 ft / 2816 m
    Time:2 Hours 15 Minutes

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