>Beaver Creek

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The achievement of building a railroad over Monida Pass was a long coveted goal in linking rail service between Salt Lake City and Butte, Montana. But, during the winter of 1879-1880 the canyon of Idaho’s Beaver Creek, with its severe weather, proved a formidable construction barrier. It was said, “No tongue can tell the wretched life the men of the rails led in their winter quarters at Beaver Canyon during the winter of 1879-80”.
The Stoddard Creek exit of Interstate 15 is 66 miles north of Idaho Falls. This lonely interchange at elevation 6080′ provides a good starting point for ski exploration of peaks on either side of Beaver Canyon. Let’s see if we can find better conditions than the railroad men of yesteryear.
On 3/13/93 I parked at the freeway off ramp and headed east up Dairy Creek, then south up a forested draw to reach Three Peak el 7310′, with its downed Coast Survey triangulation signal.

The descent of this north facing gully of Three Peak offered variable conditions from powder, shown here on this 3/13/93, to eggshell crust. This is the stuff where you try to ‘unzip’ the turns. The subsequent breaking crust then leaves the pleasant auditory sensation of tinkling shattered glass. Round trip time 6 hours solo.
A few seasons later, on 1/19/97, and again from the freeway exit, I headed west for a ski ascent of Picnic Peak el 7547′. This circular route went up Stoddard Creek to gain the ridge north of the Forest Service campground. The descent down the east facing Picnic Hollow was ‘fair snow, a bit crusty and grabby’. Round trip 4 hours.
Thinking we could find better conditions on 3/15/02, Rick W. and I went back for another picnic. Instead, we found winter as the railroad men knew it: low icy cloud deck, ground blizzard, and no place to hide from the wind. While I sometimes revel in the challenge of skiing breakable crust, the descent into Picnic Hollow was no picnic. The difficult, grabby double layer breakable crust defied linked turns. Racing back into the teeth of the wind, the heater in Rick’s truck never felt so good.

Rick W. eyes our objective, Picnic Peak el 7547′, on 3/15/02. It was a hoody day, even on the up trail.

Rick B.
Feb 25,2010

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2 responses to “>Beaver Creek

  1. >Ah, Picnic peak, one of my fondest memories. Another trip where Rick Baugher was kind enough to guide the willing tele-novice into the mountains to share his skills and knowledge of Idaho's mountains. High winds and low visibility made a great background to a cool video I have since misplaced. As I recall the snow on the ascent encouraged us to continue through poor weather conditions for some nice turns. Surprise, death crust. My first time on really hard crust that would only break at the apex of each turn. Stout enough to hurt your shins after the finish of each turn and resulted in another fall. What a way to learn the art of skiing in the mountains! I loved every painful second of it. Thanks Rick! Hopefully there is another adventure in our future.Ricardo (rick w.)

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