You read that right, Hawaii’s tallest mountain gets a dusting of snow most winters. Mauna Kea towers over the ocean at 13,796 ft. The “ski area” has no lifts, but a road to the summit provides access to the world-class observatory as well as skiable terrain. When it snows, a 4-wheel drive vehicle is required to reach the summit. Riders can organize their own expeditions, go with expedition group SkiHawaii, or ride with social group Hawaii Ski Club. Sadly there is usually a short window to ski, and weather at the summit is always changing, so trips can be last minute.
Temperatures during winter range from 25-45 degrees F, but the wind chill can really bring that number down. Even during summer see how close the summit is to freezing point. The tropical island of Hawaii gets plenty of rain, so all it takes is a special cold storm to dump a few inches on the summit. They even had a 7 inch powder day in 2015!
Mauna Kea is actually the tallest mountain in the world. If you include the 19,000 ft. below sea level where the dormant volcano begins, it surpasses Mt Everest. Conditions at these high elevations are not hospitable to humans: the sun is intense making eye and skin damage more likely, rapid weather changes can be problematic, and the lack of oxygen can lead to altitude sickness.
SkiHawaii advertises 2500′ – 4500′ vertical runs, depending on conditions. Coupled with the incredible views of the surrounding ocean, skiing above lush tropical vegetation, and the checkoff from the bucket list, how could you not be interested? SkiHawaii calls the slushy terrain that covers Mauna Kea Pineapple Snow, a clear spinoff of corn snow.
Pair a morning ski session with an afternoon surf for a perfect day.