Friday, January 16, 2009

From frigid to frigid

Looks like it's a done deal. Booked airfare to Hawaii last night. We'll be going the first couple weeks of April, a mix of family and friends. In addition to the "normal" things people do in Hawaii, a few "abnormal" Hill Junkie endeavors are planned. My two favorite climbs on the planet are on the islands. These are Haleakala on Maui and Mauna Kea on Hawaii, the big island.

Upper portion of Haleakala hillclimb with numerous switchbacks. 1.5x vertical exageration. Hawaii with Mauna Kea climb in background.

Haleakala gains 10,000ft from sea level in about 35 miles. It is pretty much all up. Know any other place you can coast downhill for 35 miles? The goal is to beat the daily showers up, enjoy the top of the world views before descending back through the clouds with potential brief stint of rain before wrapping around into the rain shadow of Haleakala. I last visited Hawaii in 2005 and did this climb solo. I hope to have some company this time around.

This is not Mars. Summit area of Mauna Kea hillclimb. 1:1 vertical scale. Maui in background.

Mauna Kea gains nearly 14,000ft from sea level in about 58 miles from the Kona side of the island. In 2005, I climbed it from the wet Hilo side, a short 42-all-up-miles climb. Climing time alone took over six hours. From Kona, there are some nearly level spots at the lower elevations. Staying dry should be much easier, although bombing down through tropical 80F rain at 40mph hardly makes you cold. What is cold, especially today, is the summit of Mauna Kea. It is winter in Hawaii too, as it is in the norther hemisphere. Today it is below freezing with 90mph winds at the summit. I've done Mt Washington with 60mph gusts, but 90mph is simply not doable. I hope the weather settles down in a couple months. It seems many of trips to warm places involve snow. Sometimes I travel to places not associated with snow when there is no snow in New England only to encounter snow at my warm destination. Of course, that snow is earned by biking up obscene vertical.

Mauna Kea today, Januarary 16, with 90mph wind at <0C temp. Hard to tell where snow stops and clouds thousands of feet below start.

Other rides planned are the classic loop around West Maui on tandems. Off-roadies cannot visit Maui and not do the Skyline Trail either. There are very few legal places to ride off-road in Hawaii. What is cool, the most incredible place you can ride off-road is legal, and that is off the back side of Haleakala. We may shuttle this ride, as a 7000ft paved climb with MTB's may be a bit much. So "earn your vertical!" you say? I have many thousands of earned vertical feet in the bank. I'm entitled to cash a little out once in a while. This past year alone I banked at least 8000ft on Mt Washington and Mt Equinox where we must take cars back down.

Dodging craters on Skyline Trail off "back" side of Haleakala.

Anyway, booking airfare always seems to be the most stressful part of trip planning for me. Once you pull that trigger, you stop stressing over whether you should even go on an expensive trip. The rest - cars, hotels, activities becomes easy to fill in. Right now it looks like a week or so on Maui and the last three days on Hawaii. I've been wanting to go back to Hawaii a couple years now. I'm psyched. Need to start training for my vacation!

1 comment:

Mookie said...

Alright, I'm jealous.