| Unofficially named, Mount Church is the 3rd highest peak in Idaho. Ranking behind Leatherman Peak and Borah Peak, it is oddly unnamed and is not triangulated. Its summit altitude is somewhere above the 12,200 foot contour. What makes Mount Church so great is nature of the climb. It combines intense scrambling with incredible views. Positioned in the middle of the Lost River Range you can see many of the other high peaks from the summit. |
A climb of Church usually involves a summit of Donaldson Peak to the southeast. It is a hard class three and the ridgeline scramble between Church and Donaldson is a little sketchy but not too bad. Other routes on the mountain are extremely exposed and have loose rock. The roundtrip mileage is about 7 miles and 4,500 vertical feet ascent.
Mt Church is unoffically named after the late Idaho Senator Frank Church who is responsible for the creation of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in the Salmon River Mountains which is the largest designated wilderness in the lower 48.
The most common approach is via Jones Creek, which is also used for Mount Breitenbach. Another recommended approach is the next drainage to the west. Less bushwacking is involved and I think it is more direct .
Drive north from Mackay on US-93 and take a right hand turn and head through the open range below the range. There are several different roads that lead to the same location. Make sure to orient yourself to the map and you should be okay.
Like all of the Lost River peaks there is nothing required but your sense of adventure and a tolerance for scree.
When To Climb
Typically from the middle of June to the end of September. Winter ascents are possible but access is hard and the area is prone to avalanches
There is camping at the base. Very limited water. Hard to find a flat space, but there is no one else.
There is a nice flat spot between Church & Donaldson that is even shaded from the wind. No water access once the snow is gone though.
Lost River Ranger District
P.O. Box 507
716 W Custer
Mackay, Idaho 83251
Office Hours: Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 4:30 pm