Escape from Kamp K2
Admittedly, I should have known better than to go to a Kamp, spelled with a “K” and hosted by a ski company in the middle-of-nowhere Washington. When they used a halfass temptation like “DJ Mullet is gonna be there!” I should have avoided it at all costs. But no. I’m a serious journalist and I’d been put on the media list so I had to go.
I arrived at Crystal Mountain at 10 pm on Friday to find a drafty pop-up tent blasting bad alternative music and skiers playing beer pong like zombies. One terrifying lap and I was headed to get back in the car, but an enthusiastic K2 employee noticed me before I had the chance. I was stuck.
I was escorted to my room, which I’d be sharing with four skiers, and fellow media nerd Mary Walsh. I tossed my gear a top the firm top bunk, but it wasn’t time to go to sleep quite yet. I located the five other snowboarders, who hunkered down in a hotel room filled only with gross snacks and cans of Coors Light to avoid the mob of skiers. To pass the time, Nick Dirks was painting tattoo flash art at the table, while Pat Bridges, Harry Hagan and Mary were reading questions off Trivial Pursuit cards.
The sound of ski boots clomping around and Van Halen blasting from the tent were the official wake up call. We had to hustle out of our
cells rooms to breakfast in the Washington drizzle, as it ended in 30 minutes. I filled my plate with bready flapjacks and dry scrabbled eggs but only managed to down a half a pankcake. It was here I was issued my tracking device – a lanyard with my ski pass and schedule.
Faced with the reality there was absolutely nothing else to do here and “shred” (on the rock it was called recreation time I think) was scheduled from 9-noon, Mary and I met up with two of the other snowboarders — Josh from EB and Justin from Ground Zero — and headed up the hill, despite the ominous rain cloud hanging over the gondola. The limited terrain was mostly moguls, with a few long flat stretches which the slush was too slow and we had to unstrap. Even though I was soaked through in an hour, the “shred” portion would definitely turn out to be the highlight of the experience.
At dinner time we headed to the mess hall, where we found skiers being forced to mingle over pitchers of Coors light and dry pizza. Enthusiastic K2 employees circulated, hob-knobbing and rubbing elbows with owners of ski shops and encouraging everyone to get “as wasted as possible.” Sure that my tracking device would inflict damage if I tried to leave, I sat through an hour or so of “industry talk” before finally making a break for it.
In the room I found a sick Jake Kuzyk (who’d just arrived), Dirks and Harry watching the new Gremlinz video on a lap top. It was the scheduled “chill” time and we were all happy to get a break. But almost as soon as the 40-Year-Old Virgin came on TV, the door was thrust open with the announcement that the K2 boss guys wanted everyone in the tent. We were lined up by a kid in a mullet wig and K2 shirt announcing, “I’m the K2 intern, it’s my job to make sure you’re all partying!”
We trudged obediently down to the tent, where skiers huddled together in the cold, and the kegs barely pumped out flat beer. We’d been pre-assigned teams for the big beer pong tournament and the MC called out names, “Team Slayblade! Nick Dirks, Brooke Geery, come on up!” I did my best to hide from the calls, but they grabbed Nick and shoved him at a table before he could refuse. In my corner, I found a belligerent skier with bottles of booze offering to make “anything you wanted.” As long as it was whiskey or Pepsi.
I thought about making a break for it right away, but my drinking had already commenced for the day — I couldn’t make it for a four hour drive. We managed to escape back to the room, and sat there stoically watching as Steve Carrell finally had sex. Around 11 pm we were still hiding out when, someone burst into the room. Terrified we were going to be forced to go back to the tent we shuddered, but it was just a random drunk skier. “Hey, is there any beer in here?! They ran out at the tent!” Beers in hand a fresh 24 pack on the counter we all turned in unison, “No!”
I don’t remember going to sleep that night, but before I knew it the ski boots were clomping again. I projected myself off the bunk, pinching my elbow in the process of grabbing my buzzing phone. It was Dirks and he needed to get back to Portland. This was it. My excuse. My big journalistic opportunity to get the fuck out of Crystal mountain. I didn’t care if my tracking device sounded. I was making a run for it. With all my stuff I turned my Subaru key for my triumphant return to freedom. Nothing. The battery was dead.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get out of Crystal Mountain.