Vulcan Peak 7880 by Mount Logan via Easy Pass Trail / 火神峯

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Vulcan Peak is the nickname for Peak 7880, north of the famous Mount Logan. It shares Christmas Tree Col with Thunder Peak above Banded Glacier. Moreover, Fisher Creek via Easy Pass or Thunder Creek Trail offers direct access to this obscure peak.

Vulcan Peak 7880 above Lake 5160
Vulcan Peak 7880 above Lake 5160

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Vulcan Peak 7880 at a Glance

Access: Easy Pass Trailhead
Round Trip: 27 miles
Elevation Range: 3640′-7880′
Gear: helmet, ice ax, crampons
Route Info: Cascade Alpine Guide
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no pets

The Preface

Vulcan Peak 7880 wasn’t on my radar as I planned my summer. But the state’s wildfires made it the only peak on the list accessible until next year. It’d be my sixth and final trip to the North Cascades National Park for a while.

I went up Arches Peak et al. via Easy Pass at the end of July. So I wanted different scenery via Thunder Creek Trail, also to avoid climbing out of the basin again. But it was off-limits due to the lightning-induced McAllister Creek Fire.

Easy Creek Basin to Vulcan Peak 7880
Easy Creek Basin to Vulcan Peak 7880

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Easy Pass Trail

I picked up a self-issued permit in Marblemount and started walking late Friday afternoon. A two-day trip would be doable if camping by either alpine lake below the peak. But it would delay me in picking up the black dog on time.

En route to Easy Pass, I greeted two rangers plus a couple, the last people I saw until Sunday. I aimed to reach Cosho Camp by dark and climb the next day. Meanwhile, I kept my fingers crossed that the smoke would subside.

Smoky west view from Easy Pass
Smoky west view from Easy Pass

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Fisher Creek to Cosho Camp

It was hazy over the pass as I walked down Fisher Creek Trail on the south side. The several photo and video breaks meant it would likely be dark before reaching camp. So I sped up to try and make up for the lost time.

I put on the headlamp a mile before camp and soon waltzed into the empty site at mile 9.5. After scoping out the area, I set up the tent at the flat spot by the water. Glad for podcasts to help calm the nerves; it was a restful night.

Fisher Creek Trail to Cosho Camp
Fisher Creek Trail to Cosho Camp

See more trip photos here.

Vulcan Peak 7880 Climb

From camp, it’s 1.5 miles, including a bridge crossing, to the turnoff south of Fisher Creek. I knew it’d be a long day, so I left right as the sky lit up. Though I would’ve started sooner, I didn’t feel like using the headlamp.

The discreet turnoff 100′ east of the second bridge marked the start of the Banded Glacier route on Mount Logan. I poked around a bit before taking the faint trail. But it soon faded into massive debris over the forest floor.

Hillside view of Ragged Ridge
Hillside view of Ragged Ridge

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En Route to Lake 5160

Soon, I found the path again before shooting straight up the slope with help from branches. The footpath sometimes went through the brush. Then it faded by the cliffs, where I hugged the edge above the ravine.

En route were two spots to view the lovely cascading waterfalls. I took a break to savor the sounds before diving back into the bushes for the final steep part. Then I saw the trail again amid the grassy slope below the lake.

Lower cascading waterfalls
Lower cascading waterfalls

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Lake 5160 to Vulcan Peak 7880 Northeast Slope

The path took me to the tall shrubs by the outlet, where I effortlessly crossed the stream. But the branches made it tough to cross the wetland. So I stepped through krummholz by the lake and soon reached the south shore.

I went straight south, aiming at the visible gully. The grass mixed with rocks made it easier to walk uphill without sliding. Atop the chute was a massive buttress, where I veered southeast and crossed a stream from the snow melt.

Mount Logan above unnamed stream
Mount Logan above unnamed stream

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En Route to the Unnamed Glacier

Scree quickly turned into rocks, followed by boulders and sloping slabs. The low angle allowed me to climb up directly. Soon, I reached the glacier’s edge at 7100′ and saw the fire smoke across the northwest skyline.

I wasn’t sure how much snow I’d find below Christmas Tree Col and debated whether to bring crampons. But glad I had them with me when I saw the glacier. Otherwise, it’d be a super sketchy 400′ climb on ice to the pass.

Glacier below Vulcan Peak 7880
Glacier below Vulcan Peak 7880

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Christmas Tree Col Above Banded Glacier

The thin snow at the edges of the small glacier quickly led into ice. It didn’t surprise me since the north side hadn’t had much sun during the day. Soon, I went up the low-angle incline and bypassed a few crevasses en route.

It was tricky kicking steps into the snow, especially in the last 100′. So I moved east and walked up the scree to the narrow moat. I wiggled upward between sloping slabs and the hard snow with crampons to reach the pass.

Mount Logan and Banded Glacier from Christmas Tree Col
Mount Logan and Banded Glacier from Christmas Tree Col

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Vulcan Peak 7880 Southeast Ridge

I had been waiting to see Mount Logan up and close, and it was satisfying. Before dropping to Lake 6840, I wanted to try the ridgeline. Then I slowly rose to the crest over the false summit, glad it worked out without a hitch.

The ridge grew rockier beyond that point, which forced me off the crest. So I worked through the top of a few gullies to the southeast notch. Then it was class 3 and 4 over unstable rocks up to the bouldered, broad summit.

Vulcan Peak 7880 beyond the rocky ridge
Vulcan Peak 7880 beyond the rocky ridge

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Vulcan Peak 7880 Summit Views

It was the closest I’d seen to Mount Logan, which was beyond breathtaking, above the jade-colored moraine lake. The east face would’ve been just as dramatic. But the low clouds in August had taken away my view from Outpost Peak.

Lower Fremont Glacier was also visible. Sadly, the other “attraction” was the McAllister Creek Fire, which continued to spew out haze. Then there was the cluster of peaks above Fisher Creek Valley, including Natal Peak,

North-to-east panoramic view from Indecision Peak
South panorama from Vulcan Peak 7880

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En Route Back to Cosho Camp

I returned to Christmas Tree Col by retracing my route to a tee. After waving goodbye to the south, I dropped onto the rocks at the glacier’s edge. Then I met the snowfield midway and walked the ice back to the bottom.

From Lake 5160, it was a fast descent by going straight through the brush. I took a water break by the lower waterfalls before finishing the rest of 1500′ to the trail. Then it was a short 1.5-mile walk back to Cosho Camp.

McAllister Creek Fire smoke
McAllister Creek Fire smoke

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Seeing Vulcan Peak 7880 from Easy Pass

My late Friday start left me with lots of time to climb out of Fisher Creek Valley. I enjoyed a morning stroll in the shade and checked out the hidden Fisher Camp. From the signpost, I began the slow 1400′ walk up to Easy Pass.

The morning warmed quickly as I realized I hadn’t filled the water bottle. The bone-dry trail only had one tiny stream below the last switchback. So I took a long while rehydrating in the shade before returning to the pass.

One last look at Vulcan Peak 7880
One last look at Vulcan Peak 7880

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Back to Highway 20 (North Cascades Highway)

From the pass, I glanced back at Mount Logan once last time. But what stunned me immediately was the sight of Vulcan Peak 7880 and my route! Of course, I only knew where to look and what to look for after being up there.

I chatted briefly with a lone hiker on the pass. Afterward, I walked down the basin in the heat and greeted several people and a dog en route. Then I took a long nap along the highway before picking up Connor back in Monroe.

Finding my way home
Finding my way home

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