Safety Advisory for Visitors to Subaru Telescope

Medical Alert

The Subaru Telescope site is located on the summit of Mauna Kea, at approximately 14,000 feet. Visitors may suffer symptoms of severe mountain sickness. The altitude may also aggravate pre-existing disease and some cardio-vascular and respiratory conditions. Visitors with these conditions are strongly urged to seek medical advice and clearance before visiting the summit. Individuals 16 years and younger or pregnant cannot visit above Hale Pohaku.

  1. Do not be alone. You must remain with your designated Guide and follow his or her instructions at all times.
  2. Don't drink, and refrain from smoking. Refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol at least 24 hours before your ascent.
  3. Avoid Gas-Producing Foods (such as beans, onions and cabbage). They may cause intestinal gas to expand, resulting in flatulence, bowel distension.
  4. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration from pulmonary water losses.
  5. Do not go Scuba Diving within 24 hours of your ascent.
  6. Stop at Hale Pohaku or at Onizuka Visitor Center for at least 30 minutes on your way up to the summit for acclimatization.
  7. Breathe slowly and try applying some pressure to your lungs while discharging the air. Pressure breathing is taking a deep breath, holding your breath for about 2 seconds and applying pressure to chest. Then exhale slowly from the mouth. Repeat this for several times then oxygen level in blood will increase and you will begin to feel comfortable.
  8. Do not move fast at the summit. It may cause hyperventilation.
  9. Do not hesitate seeking assistance when you feel sick.
  10. Do not question the directions given by the observatory staff in charge, while you are on the summit. In case of emergency, there may be no time to explain the action directed.
  11. Protect yourself from Ultraviolet Radiation. At high altitudes, there is less atmosphere to protect you from the harmful ultraviolet rays. Wear sun glasses and sun screen to protect your eyes and skin. Lip balm and lotion are recommended due to low humiditycausing dry skin.

Clothing requirements

  1. You will not be able to enter the Summit Subaru Telescope Facility with unstable footwear like high heels or sandals and inappropriate outfit for climbing the steep stairs in the Dome.
  2. Jackets are recommended due to cold temperatures (it may drop below freezing even during the summer). Slacks are recommended instead of skirts for ladies.
  3. Hard hats are required to enter the Subaru Telescope facility area.

Examples of symptoms of altitude sickness

  • Incoherent speaking
  • Muscle coordination becomes abnormal
  • Lack of balance
  • Impaired eyesight
  • Sleep inducement
  • Inability to make decisions / calculations
  • Intense headaches
  • Difficulty breathing / shallow breath
  • Severe coughing and foaming of mouth

Copyright © 2000-2003 Subaru Telescope, NAOJ. All rights reserved.