The highest I have ever been without flying is the summit of Mauna Kea, the world's highest mountain (measured base to summit, the base is deep below the ocean). At 13,800 ft the summit is nearly 10 times higher than the observation deck of the Burj Khalifa. In fact, it is so high that people often have trouble breathing up there and have to be taken down the mountain to recover. Unless you have a licensed guide you can't go to the summit, it is too dangerous. Here are some pictures of the top part of the summit road. You can see that it is unsealed, just graded rock. A small bear to help look out for sharp rocks and gullies is a big help to the guide. The scenery on the summit road is spectacular. No plants or animals, just multi-coloured volcanic rock. In the top right photo you can see the road twisting up to the summit where the telescopes are. The bottom left shows some of the many cinder cones that cover the mountain, and that most of the clouds are below us. If you look carefully you can see one of the telescopes of the Millimeter Array. The bottom right proves that we made it! The telescopes in the background belong to many different combines of countries, and include Gemini North, a 'scope that Australia shares time on. I am very proud of making it to the summit, not many small bears ever get there.
Labels: astronomy, Hawaii, telescopes