Stats include overnight stay and all 3 summits
Elevation Gain: 2898m
Total Moving Time: 17 hours 40 minutes
Date: May 21st, 2022
Ember Mountain is the tallest summit in the remote Fire Spires group and the primary objective of most trips into the area. It’s situated along the north side of the Terrarosa glacier and can be ascended via a non-technical, but steep ridge on the west side. Steven, Phil, Alex and myself had climbed to a valley east of of the glacier the day before to summit Mount Glendinning and stage ourselves for Ember Mountain and Ashes Peak the next day.
We awoke at 3AM from our alpine camp and polished off a cold breakfast before getting out of our tents. Steven had planned it out so that we should hopefully be summiting Ember Mountain right as the sun was rising. As a result, we didn’t waste much time getting ready and started the plod out of the valley and up towards the Terrarosa glacier. Our route started with a traverse across the valley slopes to reach a large chute up to the Terrarosa glacier. Once we reached the base of the chute I found the angle wasn’t too bad and a firm crust presented easy traction on the snow shoes. I lead the way taking us up to the top of the chute with Ashes Peak located directly on the right. Steven took over from here and lead us across the Terrarosa glacier. No signs of crevasses were prevent and I tailed behind to catch some photos of the group plodding ahead.
After 15-20 minutes we reached the base of Ember’s summit ridge and had to skirt around a massive wind feature on our right. Despite the tame appearance from afar, gaining the ridge was a little bit tricker than expected with the slope angle just about exceeding what’s safe to ascend with snow shoes. The steepest part was short lived though and we reached mellower terrain just above and all the way to the summit.
Steven reached the summit first and assessed the cornice situation. The true summit was reachable despite the large cornice so long as we stayed > 2m away from the edge. Thanks to this, we had unobstructed views all around. Most striking to me were The Flames, Flash Peak and Flicker Peak. They looked out of place compared to most of SWBC’s mountains with steep snow curtains draping over exposed rock pitches running the length of their prominence.
Not long after reaching the summit we caught alpenglow over some of the most remote areas of Garibaldi and Golden Ears parks. The temperatures were perfect and we stayed to watch the entire sunrise taking in some of the best views I’ve ever seen climbing mountains. It doesn’t get any better than that really. I could have stayed up there all day, but we had a mission to get on to and so started to prep for our way down. All of us except Alex opted to swap for crampons (Alex was stuck with snowshoes as his were back at camp). Then we started our descent, which proved very easy in the firm conditions.
It wasn’t long before we reached the base of the Terrarosa glacier and Steven took us around towards Matkw Peak. None of us were super keen on heading so far for a minor summit and so we were going back and forth on ideas. Something lit up in Steven’s eyes though and he decided to pull the trigger on The Flames. Alex, Phil and I briefly considered trying Terrarosa, while we waited as none of us were prepared to follow up Steven’s planned route. In the end we decided to spectate as Steven ascended up and then slowly plodded our way up towards Ashes Peak, pausing every now and then to watch his progress.