Give Me Risk

And the Mountains Oblige

By Alice Schenk

We pull into the trailhead at dusk, planning to set up camp for a 5 a.m. start on a climb up Donaldson Peak (the eighth-highest in Idaho at 12,023 feet) and Mount Church (third-highest at 12,200 feet) in the Lost River Range. This will be the last two summits my friend Todd Slusser must complete to have conquered all nine peaks above twelve thousand in the state. I’m thrilled to have been invited, because I want to re-climb them all, having achieved the feat from 2010 to 2015 [see “Step by Step,” IDAHO magazine, November 2017). I’m well on my way to that goal—until we take a wrong turn.

One other vehicle is parked at the trailhead when we arrive. As Todd goes over to visit I say, “Wouldn’t it be great if we knew them?” 

He and the others in our group laugh.

“Ask if her name is Rachel,” I say.

Todd laughs again and shakes his head to signal he’s not even going to ask.

After a minute, I head over to the vehicle.

“Hi, are you Rachel?”

“Yes,” she says.

Todd looked so surprised!

OK, I knew she had planned to climb this weekend. I’d told her earlier I had friends who were climbing also, although at the time I didn’t think I’d go. I knew I’d need a lot of help on Mount Church’s ridgelines—because even though I’ve climbed a fair bit, scary ridgelines still are not in my skill set—and I didn’t want to be a bother. But Todd said come along, so I did.

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