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Donaldson Peak Fish Bone Couloir

In a prior trip report on this website, I discussed my list of the 10 stages of my mental state as I pursue these big ski mountaineering objectives.  Number 3 paraphrased is the, “Why am I here” phase.  This phase alludes to the pain and suffering that one endures in order to achieve some of these, (pun intended), lofty objectives.

Some would ask, “Is it worth it”?  Some, including yours truly, would even question my sanity.  Others simply can’t even comprehend the idea.  It is beyond their capacity to even entertain the thought.  Without getting too philosophical, I will confess up front that I climb peaks and ski them because the skiing is a blast, the adrenaline rush is nice and I love the challenge!

There are a host of life lessons that one can learn and apply to our everyday struggles as one spends time in the mountains.  The correlation between the value of the reward and the cost to obtain it is a valuable lesson that is reinforced almost every time I am on one of these ambitious adventures.  Truly valuable possessions are not purchased with cash, plastic or PayPal; they are acquired through diligence, patience, sweat and even some healthy doses of pain and agony.

What are the things that we really value in life?  Do we have our hearts and minds set in the right place?  Are we willing to expend the effort, the sacrifice, the dedication to realize the full value of what we are trying to obtain?  Whatever you do, whatever your “insanity” is, do it with full purpose.  Be willing to lay it on the line and give it your all!

The Fish Bone Couloirs from the summit of Mt. Donaldson have been in my sights for some time now.  This was one of those objectives that drew me in and created that desire to endure some pretty significant physical effort in order to ski this line.  This was a long, arduous day, but the grandeur of these mountains, the feeling of awe and reverence for these places, the peace and fulfillment that it brings to my soul are what makes it worth it.  Oh yeah, and skiing a really cool line that may not have ever been done before is some pretty awesome stoke and motivation!  

We had our eye on what we dubbed, “Fish Bone I & II”.  Both of these couloirs descend from the summit block on the SE aspect of Donaldson.  As it turned out, Fish Bone I had a very large, angry looking cornice guarding the entrance, so we gave it the respect it deserved and went for Fish Bone II.  I would be remiss if I didn’t give a huge amount of credit to Wes Collins for pointing these lines out to me, providing valuable route beta and tons of encouragement.  THANK-YOU Wes!

Just under 12 hours car-to-car, ~10 miles trekked, booted and skied, 4,300 vertical and the upper couloir in the 45+ degree range.  An entry/exit canyon that was nothing short of brutal.  Was it worth it?  Without a doubt!!!

Photos tell the story of the trek.  (Credit to Paul G. for some of the photos).

This is the definition of “bushwhacking”!

Still a long ways to go before we hit snow.

Coming up thru the narrows as the morning sun hits the valley floor.

We are about to hit the sun!

The Fish Bone Couloirs are in front of us now.

Breitenbach from the top of the Fish Bone II couloir.

Church from the summit of Donaldson.

Gettin some corn turns.

Skiing below the couloir.

End of the skiing. Let the 2nd bushwhack begin.

Long day, but all smiles now!

3 comments

  1. Chris

    Nice TR. Thanks! Curious, did you guys approach from the south or the north? Thinking the road that follows the Pahsimeroi River isn’t open yet.

    Thanks!

    1. admin

      We came in from the South, on the Lost River side, and approached via Pete Creek. I am pretty sure that the Pahsimeroi is open now. I have heard reports that it is. You can search for the “Lost River Range Group” on Facebook. They have pretty accurate info and an up-to-date dialogue.

      1. Chris

        Awesome, thanks for the info. Wasn’t aware of the LRR Group on FB so thanks for that too. Don’t get over there often but love it when I do!

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