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.