Mack Prioleau Skiis on Mauna Kea | Mack Prioleau | The Outdoors
Mack Prioleau on Skiing on Mauna Kea
The state of Hawai’i has always been one at the top of my list of places to visit. From my research i have learned that it is more known for its beaches and tropical rain forests, the state is home to very high peaks, including the volcano Mauna Kea on the island of Hawai’i.
Mauna Kea measures almost 13,800 feet. But because its base lies 19,000 feet underwater, it’s actually the highest mountain in the world when measured from bottom to top. The variations in elevation make for interesting climate and weather differences. The name “Mauna Kea” means “white mountain” in Hawai’ian, and the snow covers the volcano’s peak during winter. Between November to April, temperatures can reach as low as 24.9ºF. But because of the altitude, the wind chill can make it seem a lot colder.
At first glance, Mauna Kea could be one of the best skiing spots on the planet, with over 100 square miles of terrain covered with fine white snow, which locals call “pineapple powder”. While Mauna Kea’s summit is dotted by the numerous astronomical observatories that take advantage of the clear weather, there are no lodging facilities or ski lifts on the summit itself. Despite this, a few friends of mine have gone up to the summit on a rented SUV, planning to go skiing down the summit. In lieu of ski lifts, one of us acted as the designated driver for each trip up and down the slope, picking up skiers at the bottom of the snow line.
They told me that the scenery more than made up for the effort we exerted just going up to the summit. But Mauna Kea is not for beginners – it takes a certain degree of courage to even go up the highest peak in the world. Something I plan to do in the near future
Interestingly, while there are zero ski facilities on Mauna Kea, there is a ski shop on the Big Island that rents skis and snowboards. They’re not always open, but when they are, you’re sure that there is just enough snow on the summit for you to play on.