|A good approach trail heads up the north fork of Jones Creek.|
|Mount Church is visible relatively early in the proceedings.|
|Donaldson Peak (right) comes into view near the head of the valley.|
|Some bleached bones attest to the dangers of long approaches up creeks.|
|There is a lot of rubble to ascend when climbing Donaldson Peak and Mount Church.|
|This unnamed peak south of Mount Church sits between the two forks of Jones Creek. Some parties camp near the trees at bottom right.|
|A short headwall is breached near the pour-over at left.|
A tarn in the upper basin makes for a nice bivy site.
Leaving the solo hiker and the tarn behind, I next tackled a 300-metre high headwall leading to the col between Donaldson Peak and Mount Church (this "col" is not the actual low point of the connecting ridge between the two peaks, but it is nevertheless the common point of access for both peaks). Following a beaten path, I went straight up treadmill rubble to the base of some big cliffs which can be circumvented to climber's right on a ramp. The terrain above the ramp is both steep and loose, and I found it easier to climb more solid slabs where possible. Although it was tempting to keep scrambling directly upward from the ramp to the top of Donaldson Peak, I opted to work my way back toward the original line of ascent above the cliffs. Upon reaching the col, I turned right and easily hiked up to the summit of Donaldson Peak in about 10 minutes.
|There is more rubble above the tarn, but the slope is steeper here. At the base of the big cliffs ahead, the route heads out of view to the right.|
|Here is the southeast face of Mount Church. The true summit is not visible here.|
|The upper part of the headwall is full of loose rocks.|
|A natural arch can be seen near the col (upper right) between Donaldson Peak and Mount Church.|
|From the col, Donaldson Peak's summit is only about 70 metres higher.|
|Sonny reaches the summit of Donaldson Peak (3670 metres).|
|Mount Church and its east ridge grab all the attention to the west. At far right is Leatherman Peak.|
|Mount Breitenbach (far left) and Lost River Peak (distant right) round out the view to the east.|
A large group descends the east ridge of Mount Church.
|The east ridge of Mount Church offers a variety of scrambling challenges.|
|Sonny stands on the summit of Mount Church (3720 metres).|
|Mackay Reservoir is barely visible through the haze to the south.|
|In this view to the northwest, Bad Rock Peak sits in the centre in front of Leatherman Peak. To the left of Leatherman Peak is Mount Idaho, and to the right in the far distance is Borah Peak.|
|An unnamed tarn sits in the basin to the north of Mount Church. The peak at distant right is Mount Corruption.|
|Donaldson Peak and the rest of the Lost River Range stretch away to the east.|
|Not far below the summit of Mount Church, this cornice resembles a crashing wave.|
|This is looking down the headwall from the col.|
|A hazy sun is reflected in the tarn in the upper basin.|
Here is a last look at Mount Church late in the day.
I managed to stick mostly to the main trail on the hike out the north fork of Jones Creek, but despite my best efforts, I still lost the trail once or twice along the way. Daylight was fading fast by the time I returned to the trailhead, and after changing into some fresh clothes, I drove back to the highway and headed for a nearby campground to eat dinner and get some sleep.
As it turned out, I was too spent to attempt another peak the next day and ended up observing the total solar eclipse from the campground before driving all the way home to Calgary. Regardless, this was still a hugely successful and memorable weekend for me, and I look forward to returning to the Lost River Range in the future to tag some more Idaho 12,000ers.
Distance: 14.4 kilometres
Round-Trip Time: 11 hours 18 minutes
Total Elevation Gain: approximately 1660 metres