One thing you should probably know by now is that YES! You can ski in Hawaii!
The Mauna Kea, which name means “White Mountain,” is one of the volcanoes located on Hawaii’s big island. It is 13,796 ft. above sea level, making it the tallest island mountain in the world. It has not erupted for over 4,000 years already, which makes Mauna Kea a dormant volcano.
Mauna Kea has a top elevation of 4,205 meters and the bottom elevation of 2 meters. There are 2500 to 4500 meters vertical runs depending on the weather conditions on the mountain. The summit consists of 971 hectares of ski terrain best for skiers in intermediate and advanced levels. 10% of the trail is at the easy level, 25% intermediate level, and 65% of the trail is difficult. Ski lifts are not available in Mauna Kea, so the summit can be reached using a four-wheeled vehicle.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE SKIING IN MAUNA KEA
This volcanic mountain gets snow mostly during winter. The snow in Mauna Kea falls at the altitude of 3,353 meters, and it usually occurs from October to April. Unlike your usual ski areas, lifts, grooming, and resorts are nowhere to be found on this mountain. To reach the summit, you must drive through the roads that get you to the world-class observatories at the summit. Mauna Kea has the largest observatories, which consist of thirteen working telescopes for optical, infrared, and submillimeter astronomy. When you reach the summit, you will see a skiable mantle of snow. Skiers use cars that serve as their lift in going to and from the summit. They take turns picking up skiers at the bottom of the summit and driving them back to the top. The mountain also offers expedition groups like Ski Hawaii and Hawaii Ski Club to help you reach the summit of the Mauna Kea. Ski rentals are not available in Mauna Kea, so if you want to ski on this mountain, make sure to bring with you your own ski equipment.
SAFETY PRECAUTIONS WHEN CLIMBING MAUNA KEA
Skiing in the mountains of Mauna Kea is not really for people who are experiencing any physical difficulties. You must be physically fit, and you need to be in good shape because skiing here can be kind of extreme activity. Pregnant women, people with heart and respiratory diseases, and children below 13 years old are advised not to travel to the mountain. Altitude sickness normally happens when you try to reach the summit. Shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, and vomiting are some symptoms of altitude sickness. If you feel any kind of discomfort, remember to not overexert yourself and if you are stable enough, proceed with caution.
Weather is also something you should look out for when you decide to ski. The weather in the mountains of Mauna Kea is unpredictable for skiing. Winter temperature ranges from -4 to 4°C, and the mountain’s high altitude can make the weather seem much cooler. Be alert on the strong winds because it makes it impossible to ski in the summit. Make sure always to check the Mauna Kea weather forecast provided by the Hawaii Institute for Astronomy before heading up the mountain to get the condition at the top and for precautionary measures.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT MAUNA KEA
The best time to visit Mauna Kea, especially when you want to experience skiing and snowboarding on the mountain, is probably from the late month of January to the month of March. The enormous volcanoes Mauna Loa and Maui’s Haleakalā Volcano can be seen from Mauna Kea, especially on a clear sunny day. According to skiers, even though the snow conditions are unpredictable, the snow in Mauna Kea is definitely one of the most beautiful and incredible snows in the whole world.
MAUNA KEA IS A SACRED MOUNTAIN
When visiting the mountain, always remember that Mauna Kea is sacred to most of the Hawaiian people. People believed that Mauna Kea is Poli’ahu, the snow goddess’ home. According to them, the summit was the realm of gods during ancient times. It is forbidden to everyone except the highest chiefs and priests. The mountain has a cultural significance to the people in Hawaii, so the visitors need to treat it with the utmost respect. Mauna Kea is also an observatory site for astronomy. Astronomers are doing their work at the summit, so never forget to be mindful of your actions when you travel to Mauna Kea.