White Christmas on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea – *Video*

Mauna_Kea_ObservatoryHere’s the cool thing about Mauna Kea on the big island of Hawaii – it’s not only the state’s highest point at 13,796 feet, it’s also the world tallest mountain!

Yep, if you measure from the sea floor, Mauna Kea is 33,796 feet high = crazy! The volcano is also home to the world’s largest telescope, giving it bonus cool points.

Mauna Kea is one of 5 mountains on the Big Island of Hawaii. The Big Island is the largest of the 7 Hawaiian islands. In fact, it’s twice the size of all other Hawaiian islands combined. It is also the most southerly point in U.S. at 18:54:49 N, 155:41:00 W.

The Big Island is the most volcanic of the islands, with a nearly continuous lava flow since 1983 (on the Kilauea volcano). Mom and I had a chance to explore the lava flow (which unfortunately turned into a “Lava Death March” – but more on that later).

Apparently, Hawaii’s magma is pretty unique since it lies an average of 1.9 – 2.5 miles below the surface. In comparison, Iceland’s magma lies an average of 12 miles below the surface. This shallow depth affects the pressure of the magma and can help scientists determine the timing of the next eruption.

While Mauna Kea isn’t erupting, it is getting it fair share of snow. So in the 3 hours it takes to drive to the summit (including 1 hour acclimatization), you go from frolicking in the sea to sledding in the snow (on boogie board no less – Hawaiian style).

I think the best use of snow on Mauna Kea is the building of snowmen. Apparently guys with pick-ups come to the summit and fill their trucks with snow (we saw a few), take it down to the beach and build a snowman. They then stick beers in the snowman to keep them cold while having a beach party. I like it!

Here’s my Merry Christmas message from the top of Mauna Kea:


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This entry was posted on Monday, January 3rd, 2011 and is filed under Asia Pacific, North America.

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