The mountain claimed another vehicle this afternoon.
A rented Nissan Altima parked at the Hoku Kea telescope rolled off the ridge, a steep cinder slope about 400ft high. Fortunately neither passenger was hurt, the woman in the passenger seat exited the vehicle when it began rolling, her companion was already out. Witnesses describe the vehicle rolling several times as it descended the slope.
Now the Mauna Kea Rangers have the unenviable task of removing the vehicle and cleaning up the mess. The rangers report indicates that the vehicle does not appear to be leaking any fluids. Hopefully the vehicle can be removed without further damage to the summit. OMKM’s Natural Resources Manager and an entomologist are being consulted before removal.
Just another reminder to take our mountain seriously…
Despite millions of dollars spent repaving, or outright rebuilding this road, some of the old Saddle still exists. While the road is vastly better than is has ever been, no amount of rebuilding can completely eliminate the hazards of dense fog, wild animals, and the other conditions that make this road unique.
This particular curve seems to claim at least one car each year. I have seen three other wrecks here, including at least two other vehicles upside down within feet of where this Toyota rests. And those are only the ones I have seen, not counting the number of times the fence has been crushed amongst a litter of vehicle parts. At least this time the injuries were mostly inflicted on the vehicle, the police officer I spoke with indicated that the passengers were quite lucky.
I have a fair collection of wreck photos taken along the commute up and down the mountain. A reminder to take the roads of Mauna Kea seriously.
There is a way to leave Sitka without entering the open ocean, a sheltered waterway that leads to Juneau and the rest of Alaska. The passage from Sitka to the open waters of Chatham Straight is in places very narrow, a series of passes and straights that lead inland, the last section found on the charts as Peril Straight. The passage is plied by dozens of vessels daily including the Alaskan State Ferry.
In a narrow passage just north of Sitka, a place called Neva Straight lies the wreck of a tugboat, a vessel that failed to make the journey. A rusted reminder to be careful in navigating these waters.