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Donaldson Peak  

Donaldson from the west at sunset taken by Tad Schafer. This shot received the Editor's Choice award by the IdahoStatesman for the Idaho Camera 2001 Photo Contest.

Donalson Peak from the west


Leatherman, Church, Donaldson, and Breitenbach

Jones Creek drainage

Donaldson, approaching the saddle

Donaldson, at the saddle

Our campsite below the saddle

The pond below Donaldson

The pond

Donaldson in foreground, Breitenbach, USGS, and McCaleb in the background

On top of Donaldson

Donaldson Peak sits at 12,023 feet. It is the 8th highest peak in Idaho. The northwest ridge is a class 3.

Topo of the route

Northwest Ridge

Photos by Tad Schafer

The access to Donaldson and Church is Jones Creek, which is unsigned, leaving US-93 11 miles north of Mackay. A small turnout and cattle guard mark the road. Cross the cattle guard and continue toward the mountains. In 2.1 miles, turn east on a road and continue for 0.4 miles and then turn again toward the mountains. The road becomes rougher as it nears the mountains and the opening of Jones Creek canyon. You will cross a cement trough and metal irrigation pipe. Park next to Jones Creek.

From here follow the Jones Creek bottom on no consistent or apparent trail for approximately 2 miles to 8,440 feet. A huge cirque lies directly ahead guarded by Donaldson, No Regret Peak, and Breitenbach. Watch for a side drainage that waterfalls into Jones Creek. Turn west and climb the hill next to the run-off into the trees and follow the drainage on the right headed for the saddle between Donaldson and Point 10,705. You will cross talus and scree as you emerge above treeline.

Once to the saddle, Mount Church is now visible directly ahead, with Donaldson on the right. Some small campsites are available below the saddle near the springs. Countour around and up to the small pond high in the cirque between Church and Donaldson. The pond is at 10, 800 feet sittin on a small shelf.

From the pond, climb due east toward the large gully. Your goal is the Church-Donaldson ridge. To avoid class 4 climbing in the gully, at the base of the cliffs, head to the right up a talus-ramp and follow a series of talus ramps to the ridgeline just west of Donaldson. From this point, the summit is 15 minutes away.

Once on top of Donaldson, No Regret Peak is east and Breitenbach is south. The connecting ridge to No Regret is passable. Leatherman and Borah are to the north. Taking the connecting ridge to Church is a time commitment of at least a 2 hour round trip due to the steps and exposure.


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