Accessing the Summit of Mauna Kea Follow Up

Yesterday’s post stirred a blaze of comments over on Facebook, there are 50 shares and climbing fast. While there were those who took both sides of the sign, the majority seem to agree with the opinion I put forth in yesterday’s post. Most agree that the sign is inappropriate and quite possibly counterproductive.

Paul Hirst That sign annoys me, I think it’s ineffective at best, and very probably counterproductive. I too have hiked up there many times, but not since the sign appeared. Though to be honest and having given it more thought now, I don’t think the sign would stop me if I wanted to go again, though it may have dissuaded me in the past at times when I might otherwise have gone.

Summit Access
The sign asking for people to not hike to the true summit of Mauna Kea
The fundamental problem I have with it is that it’s completely un-enforceable, so it has the effect where now the people who do go are the ones who ignored the sign and thus perhaps less likely to respect other things like not disturbing things or leaving litter. Essentially, it reduces the number of people who go to the true summit and take care to have minimal impact on the land, and it has no impact on the number of people who will go up there and don’t care so much. So it just alienates the people who they ought to be befriending as allies in caring for the mountain.

Lynn Paul Richardson I respect cultural sites and always remain within designated walkways. This sign rings hollow to many people who would normally pause at that point.

A fair point was raised in considering the impact that foot traffic has on the summit… Erosion of the area could be an issue. Though I believe this could be mitigated with proper trail maintenance.

Matthew J D’Avella In my opinion people should stay off the true peak for several reasons. Erosion being my number one reason.

Quite a few have suggested that the sign be replaced with something that educates visitors to the importance of the site, request that the be respectful, and stay on the marked trail to minimize the impact to the area.

Chris Runnells Yeah I’m not sure I agree with that. The mountain is sacred to many people regardless of whether or not you’re of Hawaiian ancestry. It’s possible to go to the summit and be respectful without having Hawaiian blood. I think this sign should be replaced with a message to tread with care, pack out what you pack in, etc. I doubt it’s going to actually stop anyone.

I fully agree with different, better signage. This is an idea I should have thought of when writing yesterday’s post, my thanks to those who suggested it. I will probably compile the comments into a letter to Stuart at OMKM, maybe we can get the sign changed. My thanks to the many who commented on this, a productive discussion!

The kerfuffle has served to illustrate the issues that access to Mauna Kea exemplifies. This is a public land access issue. Do you set aside areas as off-limits to the public to appease a specific cultural group. Or should public land be open to everyone, the people of the State of Hawaii? Having had Hawaiian protesters yell at me “Get off our mountain!”, I have to push back. Mauna Kea belongs to all of us, we should care for it, but we can not close access to anyone like this.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

2 thoughts on “Accessing the Summit of Mauna Kea Follow Up”

  1. Sorry, just saw this now (been kind of busy at work). Apologies if I missed the info, but who decided to put the sign up? This is the first I’ve heard (or seen) of this. I’m assuming MKSS actually installed the sign, but it must have come under direction from someone.

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