Distance: 12 km
Elevation gain: 1040 mView mapDownload GPS track
This is the most strenuous and most spectacular snowshoe trip we've completed to date.
The trailhead is the Evan Thomas parking lot off Highway 40 and the trail initially follows the Evan Thomas trail - the same trail as for the Evan Thomas snowshoe
trip or Old Baldy Ridge hike
. To head for Volcano Peak, turn left at the T-intersection about 2 km in. About 5 minutes later the trail (road) turns to the right and descends slightly, passing the flagged Old Baldy Ridge trail on the left. After another 200 m or so, keep an eye out for a clearing to the left through the trees. When you spot it, head towards it and intersect a man-made firebreak from an old burn. At the end of this clearing is Volcano Peak. This appears to be the most direct route and the firebreak makes for good snowshoeing, although others ascending the same peak have initially taken the Old Baldy Ridge trail and intersected the old burn much closer to the peak.
We followed a week-old snowshoe trail that tackled the peak at the center of the view from the firebreak. While this was initially quite easy, shortly after entering the first and widest band of trees the route became an incredibly steep, miserable bushwhack. At times we were literally hauling ourselves up by one bush while getting whacked in the face by another. Going down was similarly painful, although the pain was due less to being smacked by branches and more to falling down onto them. In retrospect, a potentially better route heads up the peak slightly further to the left, following the burn for as long as possible before turning to the right for a much shorter bushwhack. From below this looks good, but as I haven't done it I have no idea.
Once clear of this steep bushwhack the ascent eases slightly and the expanding spectacular views compensate for any residual suffering. From this point forward simply continue ascending. While we were following an old snowshoe track, a general piece of advice would seem to be to tend slightly to the right as you ascend; then again, perhaps my mental compass was slightly damaged from getting whacked by a branch. While other batches of trees are encountered, there is no bushwacking involved and the views continue to improve the higher you go.
The ascent finally eases a few hundred meters from the summit; be aware of huge cornices off the east side. The view of the summit from this mini-plateau resembles a volcano - hence Volcano Peak - and the views all around are spectacular.