To the top of Mauna Kea

From tropics to ice and snow in eight hours: a trip to the top of Mauna Kea on Hawaii's Big Island 2011.
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The lines of the corrugated iron and wooden battens made me think this hut was heading for the earth.

The lines of the corrugated iron and wooden battens made me think this hut was heading for the earth.

It had been the wettest December in years so we didn't get the clear sky we'd hoped for. Within seconds, the clouds begin to swirl.

It had been the wettest December in years so we didn't get the clear sky we'd hoped for. Within seconds, the clouds begin to swirl.

The sun starts to set and we watch, silent and open-jawed. It may be corny, but it is stunning.

The sun starts to set and we watch, silent and open-jawed. It may be corny, but it is stunning.

This is what we all come to see....

This is what we all come to see.

One of the strangest landscapes I've ever seen.

One of the strangest landscapes I've ever seen.

At the summit of Mauna Kea.

At the summit of Mauna Kea.

Why are there observatories on top of a ice- and snow-covered volcano in Hawaii? Because the air is dust-free and clear, giving astronomers the best chance to detect signals from distant planets.

Why are there observatories on top of a ice- and snow-covered volcano in Hawaii? Because the air is dust-free and clear, giving astronomers the best chance to detect signals from distant planets.

No, they didn't shoot the sign. Without the holes, the high winds would topple the sign within minutes. Yes, that is ice.

No, they didn't shoot the sign. Without the holes, the high winds would topple the sign within minutes. Yes, that is ice.

The first of the 13 observatories on the summit of Mauna Kea.

The first of the 13 observatories on the summit of Mauna Kea.

That zigzag road around the edge of the mountain is where we're heading.

That zigzag road around the edge of the mountain is where we're heading.


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