Rod didn't get back to the hotel room until 11:30am. I had just finished watching Die Hard: Independence Day on the flat screen and was just getting into Godfather II when he returned from the Fire School where he was schmoozing fire chiefs from assorted Idaho municipalities as part of his job as a sales rep for a fire truck company. For someone accustomed to skiing when the chairs open like me, it's a little frustrating to start skiing so late in the day, but when a man works on commission, you can be tolerant of his choice to spend a Sunday morning trying to make a sale instead of making turns... especially when you're making turns on a small, wind blown mountain in the middle of Southern Idaho's farm country like Pomerelle.
However, Pomerelle Mountain, a 9,600' resort southeast of Burley, Idaho carries some fond memories for me. I spent 2 years with the mountains volunteer ski patrol while I was working at the CBS affiliate in nearbyTwin Falls. After buying our half day tickets for a fraction of what you would pay at a Utah resort, we got on 1 of the 2 chairlifts, known simply as, "The Triple" (guess what the 2 man chair was called) and got off with a 10 foot wall of wind drifted snow staring us in the face, evidence of the extremely generous snowfall and wicked gusts that are the norm for Pomerelle. However, today, the skies were clear and we could make out the Snake River Plain in all it's expansive glory. The mountains, 90 miles or so to the north were obscured a bit, but still, it was a majestic view that reminded me how the pollution of my new home in Salt Lake really can ruin a great view.
We made our first run down Bronc, a groomer that edges around the big open bowl of Punch. It seemed like they had received a few inches of snow in the last few days, and conditions, both on and off the corderoy were great. At the bottom, I approached that day's patrollers and, thanks to most of the faces being obscured in goggles and hats, I tried to recall the names that went with the gear I remember them wearing. A few of them had new jackets, which made things challenging, but soon after I told them it was Mason, they immediately welcomed me back and recognition wasn't a problem. Jeff, a farmer who was a candidate with me (the term for patrollers in training) said I should have called him and he would have got me a comp pass, but paying $28 to one of the few, true "mom and pop" ski resorts left in the nation was hardly something I was concerned about.
Rod and I made a few runs with the patrol, catching up on what's been happening on the mountain and telling them about how skiing has been in Utah. Jeff's eyes got huge when I told him it was my 35th day of the season, a number that would put me in the running for the "Most Days" Award, given every year to the patroller with the most days on the mountain. Randy, an attorney by trade, but a ski nut by nature, retold some of his stories from his ski bum days that I never get tired of hearing. Tales that usually involved sleeping in a car and saving every nickel for a lift ticket. He was also the one that told me that my skiing reflected the added time on the more challenging mountains of Utah. I was more forward on my skis with less sloppy habits, something a skier can hide on a modest mountain like Pomerelle. I appreciated the complement from a guy who, even while complaining that he ruined his legs skiing powder at Snowbasin the day before, skied as hard and fast as anyone half his age.
Rod and I skied until 4pm, taking as much pleasure from the lift ride conversations as the laps we took on Pomerelles limited terrain. It was the first day Rod had skied this season, and it might be safe to say that it will be the only day he skis this season, so I took a bit of pride knowing that had it not been for my 3+ hour drive through nasty weather the night before, Rod would probably not being having half the fun he was having on that little mountain in Idaho. I didn't take any reckless, break-neck laps through the trees, (a pleasant diversion on those slow days I when I patrolled), and the leftover powder in Punch wasn't deep enough for facies, but skiing with friends is reward that I value as much as powder days and thigh killing runs.