White Queen is an incredible snowshoe destination in the Whitewater backcountry. Starting near Hummingbird Pass, the route winds up the western ridge to White Queen with stunning views and snow-sculpted trees all along the way.

Summary
Trailhead: Whitewater Ski Hill Road
Distance, round trip: 8.32km
Elevation: +691m
Difficulty:  Moderate
Total distance: 8903 m
Max elevation: 2176 m
Min elevation: 1484 m
Total climbing: 692 m
Total descent: -676 m
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Trailhead and Driving Directions

Drive 6.9km up Whitewater Ski Hill Road to park at Hummingbird Pass (before the main ski resort area). The road will widen with a large pull-out on the left for parking.

This post describes the main winter snowshoe route to White Queen. There is an alternate summer hiking route up via the Silverking ski lift which is suitable from April to November.

Heading down from the road, you’ll pick up a trail leading right. Follow it down to the kiosk and review the important safety information, including the map of avalanche terrain and landmarks. You’ll see the route to White Queen marked on the map.

Safety
Avalanche – the White Queen route stays within Simple avalanche terrain; however, you could easily wander into more hazardous terrain if you start following the wrong track. Traversing simple terrain requires common sense, proper equipment, first aid skills, and the discipline to respect avalanche warnings.

Navigation – it can be easy to lose landmarks on this forested route or follow the wrong track. Backcountry users often need rescue in the Hummingbird Pass area. If you’re not confident with navigating this route, do not attempt.

Review the safety information at the kiosk

Above Hummingbird Pass

The first 2km will follow the same track as the Mount Beattie route. Leaving the trailhead, pass through the chain-link fence and begin following tracks that lead towards Hummingbird Pass.

Passing through the gates, White Queen’s summit is above on the right

Do not go directly through Hummingbird Pass. The route that you’ll follow traces an old mining road and climbs above to the right of Hummingbird Pass. This area is popular with backcountry skiers so there will be several tracks to follow – make sure you’re on the right one!

Hiking higher, White Queen is on the left and Ymir Peak in the far distance to the right

As the route contours above Hummingbird Pass, the track should start wrapping around to the right. You’ll be passing above the remains of an old mining site with tailing piles buried under deep snow (a big snow hill on the left side of the track). Around this area, at 2km, there should be a junction in the track with the left branch heading around the tailing piles towards Mount Beattie and the right branch beginning to switchback up the ridge towards White Queen. Take the right branch.

Up the Western Ridge

It’s time to climb. The route will begin switch-backing up and should trace the highest parts of the ridge, staying in simple avalanche terrain.

Who puts in those tracks anyways? Other backcountry users. Hopefully they went where you want to go, but pay attention incase the track starts to drop off into a ski run. If it recently snowed, you might have to break trail to put the track back in towards White Queen summit.

Switchbacking up the ridge

As you ascend, views will start to open up through the trees! It’s a gorgeous route with deep snow and snow-ghost trees.

There are a few false summits or bumps along the ridge-line where the track will dip down and then keep climbing.

A bluebird day on White Queen
Winter trees along the track

White Queen Summit

As you near the summit, the trees will thin into gently rolling snowy slopes.

Final ascent to the summit

Reach the summit at about 4.2km and look for the radio tower. It’s a steep and steady climb and took us about 2.5 hours from leaving the trailhead.

White Queen Summit on a clear day

On a clear day, Ymir Peak is the main landmark crowning the view to the East. Looking North, spot the snowy peaks in the Kokanee and Valhalla Ranges. To the west, Toad Mountain and the Bonnington Range.

Heading Home

Turn around and follow your track back down the western ridge. Taking shortcuts on this route can take you into areas with increased avalanche risk.

Heading down the track

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[…] This route is a great snowshoe trip in November and April with winter-wonderland views and no avalanche exposure. However, once Whitewater Ski Resort starts their operating season, this route will no longer be accessible via the ski runs. Instead, you can take the main snowshoe route near Hummingbird Pass. […]

Mike P
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Mike P

Nice! Thanks Abby.

Clayton
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Clayton

Great website. So funny to see someone else use the phrase “bluebird day”. I coincidentally used that phrase to describe my trip up White Queen a few days ago, and two people had never heard it before! I was sure I didn’t make it up…. After reading your report, now I am certain I didn’t. – Clayton

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[…] added yellow safety boxes to highlight some of the additional hazards on these routes (see White Queen – Snowshoe Route). I welcome feedback about how to handle snowshoe routes and the trips I’ve posted so far! […]