The next day dawns dark. While blindingly pitch-black, we still see the stars shining and the moon glowing… and yet it’s 7:00 am. Why isn’t the sun rising? Reality hits! It’s because we barely crossed into the mountain time-zone yesterday. The sun just gets up later AND goes to bed later here. Sweet! More daylight equals more exploring after shredding! But first, we’re finally getting a chance to check out Pomerelle Ski Resort. Averaging 500 inches and access to some unbelievable backcountry, we’re excited to go get it. It’s time to fuel up our bodies!
Java – It’s Time To Wake Up & Live!
Our local intel says the spot for caffeination is the Java coffee shop. Located in the back of a nondescript strip mall, we arrive right when they open. From the exterior, you can tell the lights inside aren’t overly bright. They have more of a warm glow giving you a sense of calm to start the day off nice and easy.
We order a Dirty Hippy breakfast burrito and a Croissant Egg Sandwich. The Dirty Hippy is big, flavorful and full of fresh ingredients. A great option if you’re going to be burning a bunch of calories during the day. The clear winner though in flavor is the Croissant Egg Sandwich. MADE FRESH every morning, the croissants pack a big punch in flavor. Flaky and crispy just the way they’re supposed to be. The croissant is layered with perfectly-soft scrambled eggs and bacon that’s super crispy. A combination that isn’t typical when they’re put together at most places.
Their typical coffee is good, but their specialty drinks are what they’re known for. The most famous is the “Bowl of Soul”. A cup of coffee mixed with fresh Mexican hot chocolate, it tastes more like a hot cocoa than a cup of coffee. Grabbing our sandwiches to go, we head out to Pomerelle.
Tip: Learn from our mistake… Expressways in Idaho are fast! The speed limit is 80 mph so instead of dropping your sandwich in your lap and swerving off the road, we suggest get up a few minutes early and enjoy your breakfast in the café.
Albion – Home To Ghosts & Wild Turkeys
Zipping quickly out of town on the fastest interstate I’ve ever been on, we quickly make our way towards Pomerelle. As the sun begins to finally rise, we see in the distance past the rolling farmlands what looks like massive peaks. Their summits are covered in clouds which means it’s snowing! We gleefully exit the expressway, cutting through the towns of Declo and Albion. Right smack dab in the middle of Albion is an entire complex that looks all boarded up and somewhere you’d see ghosts. We later find out Albion is home to the Northwest’s largest indoor/outdoor haunted attraction. It definitely looks like it! Leaving town and rising out of the valley, we make our final right onto the service road leading us to the resort. The brown dirt on the shoulders quickly transitions to small walls of snow.
Pomerelle – Our Private Resort For The Day
Making the final turn, we’re greeted to the resort. It’s a few minutes past nine o’clock and the parking lot only has a handful of cars. Looking above the lodge, we notice the lifts aren’t even turning yet. Where is everyone? *BUZZ* *BUZZ* Looking down at my cell phone, I’m notified Heavenly’s main California lodge is already full. Wow! Talk about a contrast.
Gearing up, we head over to the ticket office and meet up with the Pomerelle crew. We’re quickly introduced to Zack Alexander, director of mountain operations. We ask the burning question of the moment… “Where is everyone and why aren’t the lifts running already?” With a big grin he says that their goal is to open with the highest quality product. What this means is that they start grooming early in the morning and only finish at the last minute. Sometimes, it takes a bit longer to get done, but their customers appreciate it. Wow, talk about a different perspective. Focused on customers over shareholders? My type of resort!
It’s all about the skiing and not about pinching people out of their hard earned money here. Something that I didn’t even know still existed on the slopes. Still needing to finish up a few things around the resort, Zack suggested to meet up after lunch and we’ll head into the backcountry. We enthusiastically agree with the plan. Until then, he suggests getting a few laps with Barry, the Snow School Director. He knew Barry would give us the full scoop on what Pomerelle Ski Resort is all about. He tells us to go hop on the lift and Barry will find us. Huh?!? How? Zack yells back, “Don’t worry he’ll find you!”
The BEST Groomers I’ve Ever Been On
Strapping into our boards, we slide right onto the lift with not a single person ahead of us. Slowly making our way to the summit, we unload and head left. Looking over, we see a trail sign that reads “LIFT LINE.” How ironic! Little did we know this will be the ONLY lift line seen on our ENTIRE journey.
Dropping into our first run of the trip, the corduroy is PERFECT! Soft, creamy and unbelievably carve-able. I can’t remember groomed runs so soft and forgiving in my life. Turn after deep turn comes without any work. The pitch is steep enough to let the board run but not so steep to force you to slow down. At the bottom, we look at each other in shock. Zack is totally right… that’s some of the highest quality groomers either of us have EVER been on. Again, we quickly board the lift to make another run.
Not The Steepest But The Most Entertaining
Exploring the remainder of the resort, we’re blown away by what it has to offer. Sure, there’s only a few pockets of steep terrain but what is lacking in steepness it makes up for in distinct trails. Each trail is cut into the fall line meandering its way back to the base in a unique fashion. Rolling up to the lift line, the liftie who might be 18 or 19 years old shouts at us, “Are you Local Freshies? Barry is lookin’ for you guys.” Jaime responds quickly with a smile, “Is it that obvious that we aren’t from around these parts?” Even through his covered face, you can tell he’s blushing. “Um, no?!? They just told me to look for a girl and guy that were dressed like you.” With a big smile Jaime answers, “It’s all good. I’m just messin’ with ya.”
Pomerelle Ski Resort where Magic Valley comes to learn
As Barry rolls up to the lift, the first thing we notice is how big a smile he wears. Like all life-long skiers, the joy of being on the slopes is enough to keep us youthful in our hearts. While we explore the resort together, he points out that Pomerelle Mountain Resort is where Magic Valley comes to learn how to ski and snowboard.
Their goal isn’t about having the steepest terrain or biggest park but rather a place to get people hooked on the sport and lifestyle. They typically teach thousands upon thousands of people each year. It’s the reason they’re able to stay open during the week! The love and dedication to teaching is their bread and butter. And all this couldn’t have happened without the owner Woody. He’s all about making it affordable so entire families can come up here and learn the sport. Way to go!
Where Pomerelle got its name
On one of our rides up the chairlift, I ask Barry the million-dollar question – “Why the heck is it called Pomerelle?” “I knew you were going to ask me that.”, Barry said with a glint in his eye. You have to look back at the “old” days when the ski area very first started. This area was filled with hardy folk that enjoyed their time in the great outdoors. One of their traditions was to bring up a few cases of Pomerelle Wine and hide them throughout the glades on the resort’s property. Like an Easter Egg Hunt, skiers would forage through the trees in search of these wines which were made from fruits like apple. Though the winery merged and eventually became Chateau Ste. Michelle, this enthusiastic attitude towards the sport of skiing can still be experienced on these slopes.
Grabbing a quick bite to eat and a cold Sockeye beer, we bid adieu to Barry thanking him for showing us the resort and giving us a bit of history. Walking away, he quickly turns back to us and asks:
Barry: “So, is Zack going to take you to the Playground?”
Us: “You mean backcountry?”
Barry: He nods.
Us: “We hope so.”
Barry: “Oh boy, you guys are going to have some fun!”
Stay tuned for our adventure into the backcountry aka the Playground!