On June 9 I drove up and camped at the end of the Fire Lake road. The weather was mixed with on and off little showers. I was really
nervous about this trip. In the weeks leading up to the trip I had been experiencing unexplained knee pain and I was worried about carrying a large pack. Despite this I was really excited to explore an area I’d been looking at on Google earth for a so long.
In the morning I woke to light rain and cloud, but I knew the weather was supposed to get better. The rain dwindled and I left the road headed for Flame Peak. The ridge has many little ups and downs but route finding is straightforward. The Fire Lake road is a great access as it gets you pretty much into the subalpine. Its nice to start a trip with so little bushwhacking.
From Flame Peak I could see my route South along the broad subalpine ridge leading towards the fire spires. Several small lakes along the way provide water sources. I made my way from this forested ridge into alpine to a mostly snow covered lake. I continued past this lake south descending into an upper portion of Stanford creek, and then back up to camp on a ridge giving great views of the spires as well as further west to the summits around the Stave and Misty glaciers.
I could still hear the beautiful song of the hermit thrushes on this ridge, and was asleep before dark. I got up once to pee in the night and the stars were amazing. I love seeing so many stars when camping. This was the only time I’d see the stars as I was always asleep before the sunset and didn’t wake until after sunrise for the rest of the trip.
The morning was very warm. I think the forecast called for around 33 degrees in Pemberton. Before 7 am I was walking around in just my underwear! I made my usual mr. Noodle soup for breakfast and packed. I left the ridge camp and descended to a lower lake. From here I had a few brief views of Terrarosa lake below. Now back in the trees I continued south and made my way around Matkw’s West slopes. Soon I was looking up at the Terrarosa Glacier. Wow! It felt great to finally set eyes on this place. I started making my way up the middle of the glacier.
I could see some fine lines in the snow along the glacier and some faint sagging of snow. I’ve heard travel on glaciers in June is pretty safe because there is still lots of snow covering the crevasses. However I was still nervous about crevasses and made way carefully up the glacier. I was alone so If I did fall into something there wouldn’t be anyone to help me out. I trended towards flicker and flash peaks as this seemed the safest way up and turned Southwest to a rocky outcrop of the glacier looking for my second camp. At first nothing really jumped out at me but I found a spot on the far side which gave a great view west.
After setting up camp I descended and headed Southwest across the glacier to ascend Terrarosa Peak. It was a simple steep snow walk to the top and I enjoyed some afternoon views. I couldn’t find a cairn so I built one and also left a summit register.
That evening I enjoyed great views from my camp above the glacier.
The morning of day 3 was also warm but with a cooling wind. There was some strange tracks in the snow that wound their way near my cook area and down to the glacier. The individual tracks were very indistinct but there was an obvious track where multiple animals had made their way thru. Maybe a flock of ptarmigan?...aliens?
I packed a daypack and headed out for Ember Peak. This is the highest of the fire spires and also an easy talus walk to the top. I crossed part of the glacier and then headed up the broad Southeast side. Again great views all around, I found the cairn with a surveyor’s stake in it. I was surprised to not find a summit register in this peak so I tied one to the surveyor’s stake and built the cairn around it.
I glissaded down the south side of Ember and headed south across the glacier to Ashes peak.
From the summit of Ashes I could see Harrison lake and also a pretty little turquoise subalpine lake below. Also a nice view back towards Ember and the glacier.
I made my way back across the glacier and decided to have a go at Flames peak. From the glacier I made my way up steep snow to rock and I was quickly at a col between the western and central spires. I headed to the right towards the central spire and scrambled up to the top. I found a cool summit note from 1984 and enjoyed the tiny summit. The western summit looked to be about the same height and the eastern spire was obviously the highest.
Back at camp the sun had melted away the unidentified tracks. I enjoyed views and set up my tarp as a sun shade which felt super luxurious after being cooked on the glacier all day. In the shade I relaxed, cooked and had a few rum and crystal light cocktails.
On the morning of my fourth day I again found the unidentifiable tracks in the same place... marmots? The tracks were not deep enough to be a heavy animal like mountain goats.
I packed up and my way back down the glacier. The faint lines indicating crevasses on my way up had melted significantly in the two days and the gaps were more apparent now. After descending most of the glacier I left my pack and hiked up Matkw Peak. Here I found another note from 84 and also a note from 2010.
Some weather was moving in and the clouds drifted around the fire spires, but I didn’t have to deal with any rain. I passed my camp from the first night and camped on a ridge overlooking my route back to Flame Peak. I ran out of fuel that evening melting drinking water so there would be no hot breakfast.
In the morning there was an inversion and I was now camped above the clouds! Absolutely beautiful! I descended my last ridge camp into the mist and made my way back to my truck.
That's quite the trip and I honestly had no clue where this was till I had to look it up. Anyone that does this kinda trip for a few days wandering around on glaciers bagging peaks gets my props!! Nice TR.
Interest: Ball hockey, landscaping, tree collecting.
Enjoyed reading this and it's got me excited to get out hiking. Might not get quite as ambitious as this trip, that would take some good planning. Liked the comment on the Hermit Thrushes, they are my favorite summer mountain songbird.