Ascent of Mauna Loa on 2013-01-03

Climber: Rob Woodall

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Thursday, January 3, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mauna Loa
    Elevation:13679 ft / 4169 m

Ascent Trip Report

I climbed this the day after Mauna Kea.

I drive to the trailhead at first light turning west off Saddle Road at N19.68835 W155.46280 just east of the Mauna Kea turnoff. The first hundred yards is rough and potholed, doubtless to put off the less determined visitor. Then comes a sign warning that extreme caution is called for when driving this road. In fact it's a paved single track road with plenty of passing places, a few blind bends and summits, and a mostly excellent road surface.

It takes about an hour to drive, mainly due to photo stops. Immediately before the (gated off) observatory access is a signed Public Parking area with room for about 4 cars, at N19.53801 W155.57528, 3394m.

I start hiking at 9 a.m. The "observatory trail" (signposted) starts with an unpaved continuation of the road just driven, heading west. At N19.53518 W155.58160 is a signed turn L (south) with a route ascending lava plates, well marked with cairns and in the early stages, paint. The trail is mostly easy to follow although a few times I get a little off-trail and have to get back across to the cairns. The footing is mostly decent slabby rock although there are a few rubbly stretches, well demarcated.

The trail crosses a rough road early on, then joins another for a few hundred metres before turning south east on quite nice terrain. The trail passes close to the eastern edge of the impressively large crater then detours north and northwest to miss some rough ground. These last two miles are nevertheless fairly rough underfoot with several rubbly sections, but with only about 100 metres of ascent. The summit (N19.47568 W155.60569, 4202m) is marked by a large cairn with a bench mark on the rock at its base. About 30 metres further south is another highpoint N19.47508 W155.60589, just slightly lower in my judgement. The crater edge doesn't look too stable.

The ascent has taken 3 hours and I head down after half an hour. I see a young couple at the point where the trail approaches the east edge of the crater; otherwise I see no-one. I spot another benchmark further down (N19.51779 W155.58509, 3701), also a survey bolt (N19.51839 W155.58498). I make a better job of following the cairns on the way down so the GPS track should be pretty good. But in practice you just follow the cairns.

I'm down just after 3 pm: 3 hours up, 2.5 down. The weather has been nice throughout: hot sun, cool breeze. No snow on the ground: others have commented that's quite unusual.

I have an hour to spare so pack my bag, laze awhile, drive the Jeep back to Kona airport and fly to Honolulu to meet Adam Helman and Laura Newman who have made a very wet ascent of Oahu island highpoint Ka'ala today.

The three of us fly to Lihue on Kaua'i to meet Art Janssen and John Klein and, the following morning, Duane Gilliland, the plan being to hike Kawaikini some time in the next 5 days.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5805 ft / 1769 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5805 ft / 1769 m
    Round-Trip Distance:13.2 mi / 21.2 km
    Grade/Class:YDS 2
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5805 ft / 1769 m
    Distance:6.6 mi / 10.6 km
    Route:From north, observatory trail
    Start Trailhead:Observatory road end  7874 ft / 2399 m
    Time:3 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5805 ft / 1769 m
    Distance:6.6 mi / 10.6 km
    Route:Observatory trail
    End Trailhead:Observatory road end  7874 ft / 2399 m
    Time:2 Hours 35 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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