Winter doldrums and perhaps an opportune moment to revisit memories of something mostly warm. What was or would be your strategy for an unassisted Mauna Kea ascent?
This was mine. I took the less common route from the west (Waikaloa Beach), which permits a critical pit stop at the State Recreational Area. This is also the dry side. From the top of Waikaloa Rd, go north to Old Saddle Rd. It is much quieter and more scenic than the Inouye Hwy. I chose a road bike with 30c tires and a 3L camelbak. This worked fine, for a while - lolz. Up until the 2nd pit stop at the Visitor Center at 9200 ft., the ride is like a longer range Haleakala. But, the extended dirt section that follows is loose with steep pitches. I suppose it can be done with road tires but only for elite riders. I think most ppl need <= 1:1 gearing and cyclocross tires or wider; which of course, are suited only for this section and less desirable for the long haul up. This is the main compromise to work out regarding equipment. There is some truth to 11000 ft being some sort of physical threshold. I lost a lot of power starting around there and was actively hyperventilating to keep moving. On the descent, the loose dirt section becomes challenging for a different reason as you will be, on the tires of your choice, dodging the many tour vehicles driving up at end of day for the sunset and stargazing. Lastly, further down below the Visitor Center, weather often blows in from the east during late afternoon. So, while the climb may have been clear and dry, the descent may be into fog and rain.