I was mainly motivated to do this write up because I have read very little on this forum on Pebble Creek, a resort located just south of Pocatello, Idaho.
This trip was supposed to be a 3 day trip with two days skiing Big Sky/Moonlight Basin and the last day at Grand Targhee. Unfortunately, I had some things come up at work so it turned into a two day trip which was going to be a Jackson/Targhee trip but ended up with a day at Targhee and a half day morning at Pebble Creek. I’ll spare you the details on how that happened.
I arrived in Driggs, Idaho about midnight Friday with the temperature gauge on my car reading 13 below zero. My friend from Boise had arrived several hours earlier and was raving about the foot of new powder he had skied at Big Sky earlier that day. After a crummy night in the motel (I would not recommend the Super 8 in Driggs) we arose to sunny skies and what proved to be a beautiful day. No snow had fallen overnight. It became clear on the drive up that the snow that had fallen a day earlier had largely been skied out. After taking Freds to the top, we traversed skier’s left to take a look at the Tetons and noticed a fair number of people hiking up Mary’s Nipple which apparently had not been open the day before. It only took a few moments to realize it was going to get tracked out pretty quickly so we took our place in line and started climbing. It turned out to be a good choice worth about 20 good turns for 20 minutes of hiking and the best run of the day. We spent the rest of the day skiing mostly crud all over the mountain with a little powder left in a few places. The best snow we found was in Medicine Bowl and Headwall. I had not skied Targhee since they put in the Sacajewea lift. In fact, the last time I was there we had only done the snowcat skiing. It certainly appears that the Sacajewea has taken out a lot of the good snowcat skiing (or at least a lot of the good runs we had skied that day). All in all, a good day.
The next day dawned (in Pocatello) with sunny skies again despite the forecast that called for clouds and possible rain. We arrived at Pebble Creek just as it was opening and found a few cars in the parking lot. After paying for our half day morning ticket (good till 1 pm and costing $29!) we loaded the longer of the two lifts (there is a third lift that services only beginner terrain) and pulled out the trail map. It became clear that the shorter of the two lifts essentially serviced the same terrain. The shorter lift does avoid the slightly steeper top section and would take some pressure off the other lift when needed. The longer lift serves something just short of 2000 of basically continuous vertical (pretty impressive for an obscure area). The mountain has a similar layout to Diamond Peak in Nevada if that helps but is generally a fair bit steeper.
My friend and I had wanted to try Pebble Creek since an experience we had several years earlier in Sun Valley. On a rare 20 inch powder dump in Sun Valley we found ourselves sharing a chair with a professor from Idaho State University (Pocatello) who told us that he skied mainly Pebble Creek and Sun Valley. When we asked him if he liked Pebble Creek he responded, “well, you know what they say, if you can ski Pebble Creek, you can ski anywhere.” Not surprisingly, we had not heard that bit of hubris but kept it to ourselves in the interest of courteousness. We did joke about it later though and wondered how a Squaw or Jackson regular might have responded.
We shared this story with a ski patroller named Mike on a lift ride later in the day. He confirmed that this was a common expression among the area’s loyal clientele and seemed to take our story as a bit of a challenge so he offered to take us on a run. He told us he would take us on a run that was “medium” within the realm of Pebble Creek’s tougher terrain. We ended up on Rattlesnake--one of two runs on the trail map marked with a double black diamond. I can’t say I’ve skied many places that would even mark this as a run. It made its way through an alley of trees where you could never see more than a couple of turns ahead and it probably averaged eight or ten feet wide (lots of jump type turns). Nevertheless, the snow was good and it was quite enjoyable. Mike made great company and had an interesting story to tell (as did many other of the locals we rode with).
We tried to ski all over the mountain and what we found was pretty impressive. If this were my home hill, I wouldn’t have much to complain about (perhaps the snow totals). There is a lot of challenging terrain and the backcountry is very accessible. What we could see of the backcountry looked pretty impressive. There are also a number of fairly steep and long cruisers that were very enjoyable. I am a sucker for concave cruisers so Staceys/Green Canyon stood out in that category but Sun Bowl and Sunshine Ridge were also quite enjoyable. The primary weakness in the mountain is that it is really too steep to have much in the way of transition terrain for those graduating from the beginner terrain.
In all, we had a great time. I would gladly return (and since it’s only about 2 hours from my house, I probably will). Days like this help reaffirm that the joy in skiing is the skiing and that good skiing can be found where you may least expect it. Thanks you Pebble Creek for reminding me of that and taking the sting out of my disappointment of missing Big Sky and Jackson.