Where “summer school” bags you backside sevens and a goggle tan.

Everyone comes to the gear sale held near the High Cascade skate ramps in Government Camp, Oregon. It goes down every session: diggers, coaches, and other industry people set up a black market of sorts where campers score street deals on product usually fresh out of packages from sponsors. It’s a mini version of New York’s Canal Street-kind of. And never is it more happening than on an evening in early July, with the pavement cooling off from the afternoon heat and the air smelling like giant pine trees and charred hamburgers.

By the time I show up around 6:00 p.m., the mayhem is in full swing. Scotty Wittlake’s huge camo truck is parked at an angle and draped in Holden gear, with Andy Forgash out front soliciting business street-market style: “How much did you buy those goggles for? I’ll sell ya a pair of new Electrics for 25 bucks.” The Airblaster boys have scored themselves a credit-card machine and are squashing other people’s business because of it—why pay cash when you can use your parents’ credit card? The noise of skate wheels on masonite, sharp shouts and laughter, and revving mini-bike engines fill the streets. The outside world seems miles and miles away.

If the legacy of Mt. Hood summer riding starts in the glacier veins below the Palmer Snow Field, it ends on the streets of Government Camp, where a symbiotic relationship between the camps, the pros, and the tiny town has created a strangely perfect little snowboarding biosphere. The town needs the camps to pay rent on buildings and turn the place into the bustling community it is during summer. The camps need the pros for credibility and luring in campers with the prospect of getting coached by their favorite shred. The pros need the camps so they can “train” for free all summer. And everyone-that’s right, everyone-needs the campers. It’s all about the kids and the money and energy they bring to the equation.

Now, Oregon’s highest peak (summit elevation 11,235 feet), Mt. Hood, is a sleeping volcano, and according to geologists, it’s supposed to blow up sometime in the next 75 years. At that time, as great globs of molten lava ooze down the snow field and coaches trample campers in a hurry to escape the torrential mudslides mauling through the glacier veins, you’ll hear a tiny sucking sound-it’ll be the legend of what’s now nearly two decades’ worth of summer snowboarding capsizing forever.

It all started around the late 80s when a handful of snowboard camps sprouted up on the side of Mt. Hood, including the Rebel Snowboard Camp (which went under after the first season), the Chris Karol Snowboard Camp, High Cascade, and Windells. Everyone who was anyone in snowboarding started migrating here in the “off season”—it was a chance to ride without pressure, to shoot ads and catalogues, test product, see and be seen, and (perhaps most importantly) to shred it in the middle of the freakin’ summer.

By the mid 90s, Hood was crawling with five or six camps: USSTC, Mt. Hood Snowboard Camp, the list goes on. An entire community was building itself up around the summertime sessions. It was no big deal to see legends like Jeff Brushie powering down a maple bar at the Huckleberry Inn or Todd Richards skating the ramps over by Multorpor. At night, you could count on catching hooligans like Jimi Halopoff and Shaun Palmer causing trouble down at the Ratskellar—one of two bars in town and the site of many scandalous scenes that will remain for the most part unnamed here in the interests of common decency.

With all this action (that certainly hasn’t diminished over the years), you have to wonder why the only two major camps currently left standing are High Cascade and Windells—it could be mismanagement issues or financial troubles related to the market’s fierce competition. However, the real truth probably lies somewhere in the fact that these camps were the two who understood that their campers are what makes everything go round—that you have to be borderline insane in your efforts to create a certifiable summer heaven (complete with great coaches, trampolines, skate ramps, good food, et cetera) if you want kids to keep coming back. These days, both camps sell out almost every session and process around 1,500 campers each every summer. Think about it—that’s a lot of goddamn pancakes.

Regardless of all that’s grown and changed about Mt. Hood’s summer-riding experience since the beginning, much has stayed the same. You still walk past the gigantic Timberline Lodge (which made an appearance in The Shining with Jack Nicholson) and get on the Magic Mile Chairlift (Oregon’s first chairlift, built in 1939), dangling your board or just your booted-up feet off the lift (depending on how much snow is around). You still smell sunscreen and feel a sharp breeze through your sweatshirt when you get to the top. You still have to hike if you’re riding camp facilities. You’ll still see a crowd of ultra-stoked kids learning backside 360s from Greg Goulet (who’s been coaching at High Cascade for well over a decade). And you’ll still get a chance to legitimately shred when most normal people are stuck in the city developing unsightly yellow sweat stains under their arms.

Where My Diggas At?

Digger crews-without ‘em, we’d be waist deep in slush.

By Chris Coyle

The digger is the unsung hero of the Mt. Hood experience. First ones up in the morning and last ones to leave at night, the diggers make sure all the jumps and pipes are kept in tip-top shape for all the little shredimaniacs. Most kids up there might not have noticed, but over the years, the digger tents have also been breeding grounds for the next group of hotshot shreds-I’m getting ahead of myself, though, so let me explain.

Before the invention of the Pipe Dragon, these boys (and girls) used to dig the pipes at Mt. Hood by hand-no, not the entire thing, you idiot. First, the snow cats would dig a box about ten feet deep. In between every camp session, diggers would spend two days shaving snow from the top of the box (to make vert and the top of the transition), which would fill the bottom of the box and get shaped into the rest of the tranny. Got it? Good. Nowadays, thanks to the Pipe Dragon, most of the work consists of hauling 50-pound bags of salt up the hill and raking out twenty-foot-deep Superpipes. To top it off, the on-hill facilities for most of the camps have tripled in size.

Oh, did I mention that diggers get little to no money for busting their asses? Well, it’s true. Most get a free pass, three hots, and a cot. The majority of their income is from selling “Digger Dogs,” hot dogs cooked up on hill with the help of a Hibachi grill. However, what they also get is one of the few jobs at camp with little responsibility. Once they’re done with their duties, it’s all the backside sevens and misty flips they can hold down. Which leads me back to what I was saying before. If you’re a hot young shred on the come-up, do you want to spend your summer chasing eight kids down the hill or trying to learn that summer’s hot new trick? I think you know the answer to that one.

Here’re a couple of dudes who might’ve sold you Digger Dogs over the years:

Josh Dirksen

Greg Goulet

Keir Dillon

Tonino Copene

Justin Hebbel

Andy Forgash

Chris Engelsman

Chad Otterstrom

Janna Meyen

Scott E. Wittlake

Louie Fountain

Charlie Morace

Sean Tedore

Alexis Waite

Erik and BJ Leines

Eddie Wall

And the list goes on and on …

Boiling Point

At a certain point every summer, things go a little haywire in Government Camp. A collective cabin fever sets in among the staff and residents, causing bad decisions to be made, safety guidelines to be ignored, property to get destroyed, livers to run overtime, and, well, high jinks to ensue. Here’s a brief list of the stupidity that has gone down in the past … at least how it was reported to us.

The infamous “Go-Cart Incident,” in which several camp employees and other cronies stole a go-cart from Ski Bowl and rallied it around Govie late at night. Corey Smith took the fall-losing his camp job and his driver’s license for the scandal.

Andrew Forgash hurled spraypaint cans into the fire pit at the Windells pig roast-the pig was ruined.

After multiple fecal incidents (including spreading shit around the Windells digger limo, which is now the Smith limo), Andrew Forgash was finally fired from camp for dropping a load on the pool table in the Ratskellar.

Casey Lindstrom ran his new truck over a papier-mÉchà‡ dog (the Government Camp mascot), which got stuck underneath the car and then caught on fire from the sparks flying off the wires scraping along on the pavement. The truck burned to the ground with all his belongings inside.

Gigi Ruf spraypainted a chicken on the side of the Forum house.

Mark Welsh continually passed out on the High Cascade skate ramps after partying.

A tree outside the K2 house burned down after Josh Dirksen, Tonino Copene, and crew blasted bottle rockets at the house.

Scott E. Wittlake stole Blaise Rosenthal’s rental car and ran down all the street signs around town-he totaled it.

Jared Johnson lost his High Cascade coaching job for stealing an Alpine sled from Ski Bowl in the middle of the night and steaming down the closed slides.

During late-night Government Camp “fight club,” Janna Meyen managed to beat the crap out of a whole handful of dudes.

Mt. Hood Summer Camps

High Cascade Snowboard Camp

highcascade.com

1-800-334-4272

Windells Snowboard Camp

windells.com

1-800-765-7669

Mt. Hood Summer Ski Camp

mthood.com

(503) 337-2230

past … at least how it was reported to us.

The infamous “Go-Cart Incident,” in which several camp employees and other cronies stole a go-cart from Ski Bowl and rallied it around Govie late at night. Corey Smith took the fall-losing his camp job and his driver’s license for the scandal.

Andrew Forgash hurled spraypaint cans into the fire pit at the Windells pig roast-the pig was ruined.

After multiple fecal incidents (including spreading shit around the Windells digger limo, which is now the Smith limo), Andrew Forgash was finally fired from camp for dropping a load on the pool table in the Ratskellar.

Casey Lindstrom ran his new truck over a papier-mÉchà‡ dog (the Government Camp mascot), which got stuck underneath the car and then caught on fire from the sparks flying off the wires scraping along on the pavement. The truck burned to the ground with all his belongings inside.

Gigi Rà…f spraypainted a chicken on the side of the Forum house.

Mark Welsh continually passed out on the High Cascade skate ramps after partying.

A tree outside the K2 house burned down after Josh Dirksen, Tonino Copene, and crew blasted bottle rockets at the house.

Scott E. Wittlake stole Blaise Rosenthal’s rental car and ran down all the street signs around town-he totaled it.

Jared Johnson lost his High Cascade coaching job for stealing an Alpine sled from Ski Bowl in the middle of the night and steaming down the closed slides.

During late-night Government Camp “fight club,” Janna Meyen managed to beat the crap out of a whole handful of dudes.

Mt. Hood Summer Camps

High Cascade Snowboard Camp

highcascade.com

1-800-334-4272

Windells Snowboard Camp

windells.com

1-800-765-7669

Mt. Hood Summer Ski Camp

mthood.com

(503) 337-2230