A few years ago we headed north to Idaho to a magical small ski area named Pomerelle, and it was amazing. We were grateful for the soft snow and playful terrain around the resort. But, the million-dollar question of the day was “Would we be able to get into the backcountry?” Throughout the morning, the snow and clouds came in waves, making visibility challenging. If the freezing fog didn’t dissipate soon, we would have to call off the mission. Then, the moment we had hoped for happened. The clouds parted enough. The sun poked it’s head out a bit, and so it was go time to do some Idaho backcountry skiing in the Albion Mountains!
The Pomerelle Backcountry Awaits
As we lounged lazily over lunch nursing our Sockeye beers, we suddenly looked over to the main door and saw it swing open. It’s Zack! With a big smile on his face, he looked over to us and said, “You ready?” He told us to grab our backcountry gear from the truck and meet him at the maintenance garage.
Plan Run-Down And Beacon Check
Scurrying over to our rendezvous point, Zack introduced us to Jared Pratt, another local. The plan is to head over to the zone just past what they call the “Playground” which is more protected from the wind and generally lower avalanche danger. From there, we would take a look and determine if the snow conditions were ideal for some Idaho backcountry skiing.
Realization Of Why They Call It The Playground
Hopping onto the back of two snowmobiles, we zip out of the parking lot and make a left onto the trail head. The trail slowly ascended and the trees began to thin out until we were above them. As we made a sweeping turn, Zack pointed to the left and remarked, “That’s the Playground!” My mouth drops. I immediately understand why they call it that. The terrain looks like something you would see at a Kirkwood or Squaw Valley resort. It was filled with massive cliffs, pillows, and chutes all for the taking if you have a way to get out there. Unfortunately with fresh snow, this terrain was a no-go on safety, so we continued on our way to our planned final destination.
The Snow Is Good & So Are We
Taking switchback after switchback, we continue our ascent until we suddenly come to a halt. How the heck did he know where to stop? Answering my internal question, Zack pointed to a broken tree and said, “That’s how we know where to stop.” Stepping off our steeds, we get onto the snow and take a gander. The snow is soft, and you can tell it has consolidated well. We all agree cautiously that we’re good to go to sample what Idaho backcountry skiing has to offer.
Watch Out For That Cliff!
Jared hops back onto one of the snowmobiles and races down the trail to pick us up at the bottom. With only the sound of ratcheting bindings, we stand up and look toward Zack. “Alrighty folks. Whatever you do, follow my tracks to get in. To the left is a cliff that you do NOT want to go over.” Zack drops in first and veers slightly right making sweeping turns. Jaime and I drop in next, timidly but excited. The snow is perfect! After months of hard-pack conditions in Lake Tahoe, the feel of bottomless powder is like a glass of cold water in the Sahara. A dozen or so turns later we meet up again with Zack standing at the top of a massive glade. He points through the trees straight down to Jared. Standing at the bottom of a big, white meadow he waves towards us. That’s our mark… it’s go time!
Powder Shots Galore – Best Run Of The Season!
Turning his head back towards us, Zack pulls down his neck gaiter and says, “We’re far enough away from the cliff so… let ‘er rip!” Not hesitating, I drop in. Taking huge massive arcs through the trees, the snow is amazing. Turns come easily as cold smoke pow billows around me. Turn after turn of the softest & deepest snow I’ve seen in months, I open my mouth and yell at the top of my lungs, “YEEEEWWWW!!!!!!!” Flying down the pitch onto the flat meadow, I show up to Jared slapping high fives. Unstrapping, I quickly look back up to see Jaime and Zack get after it. I then hear Jaime’s yells echo off the terrain “WAHHHOOOO!!!!!!” as she makes her way down the slope.
Rinse And Repeat
“Wanna go again?” Is that a question or statement? Of course we do! We take run after run after run with Jared and Zack switching on who would shuttle. As the sun begins to set, we know it’s almost time to head back. Taking a moment at the bottom, we slowly look around. This HUGE bowl really is the perfect place for people to learn terrain options and backcountry skills. If this is what Idaho backcountry skiing is about, we’re in love. To get a taste of the goods, check out our video below from our adventure:
Catskiing At Pomerelle
We come to find out from Zack that the original plan was to create a Pomerelle catskiing outfit, shuttling people out here to enjoy the terrain. Nearly all the permits were good to go. Unfortunately, the person who did all this hard work passed away and so they were back to square one. Will it happen? Possibly, but only time will tell.
We Need A Miracle…
With our muscles sore and the sun continuing to set, we knew it was time to leave. Giving our goodbyes and thanking them for an incredible time, we made our way back down the mountain road and headed towards our next destination – The Miracle Hot Springs. There’s nothing like a good soak to get the mind and muscles right after a hard day on the slopes.
Another Hidden Gem – Miracle Hot Springs
Out of the Albion Mountain Range and back onto the plains, we continue past Twin Falls on Interstate 84 until we exit at Hagerman Avenue. Flying past dairy farms and grasslands, we wonder if we’re going in the right direction. Finally a sign appears beckoning us to make a left. Score! Tucked away in a tight canyon, the hot springs compound is another hidden treasure in Magic Valley.
An Opening We’re In Luck!
Talking to the front desk, they tell us they have an opening for a couple’s massage. Was it luck or destiny? Looking at each other, we have the same thought. You only live once right? Sure! With our reservations made, we make our way over to the main pool and hop in. Soaking in the hot springs, we let our minds begin to wander and absorb the past few days. Like everything we’ve experienced in Magic Valley, you can’t judge a book by its cover but instead must explore with an open-mind. Talk about an exciting escapade! Just like our other adventures, the couple’s massage isn’t like what I thought it would be. It was a great way to introduce myself to a relaxing massage in a way that is comfortable and reassuring for both.
Twin Falls Sandwich Company
After a carefree soak, a rejuvenating massage, and a long day of shredding, our stomachs were grumbling so we knew where we had to go next: Twin Falls Sandwich Company. Owned by Shane Cook, an avid kayaker and great ambassador for the Snake River region, we had to make sure we checked out his restaurant… and we weren’t disappointed.
With local brews on tap, tasty sandwiches, and an awesome interior, we understood why so many in the city consider this place the “anchor” of the downtown revitalization. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu but one of our favorites was the C. Alan, named after one of his friends. A slight twist on the Reuben, the sauce is sweet & tangy which goes well with the homemade pastrami served on a warm crispy marble rye.