PHOTO: Tal Roberts
PHOTO: Tal Roberts

This Old Ambulance Is the Perfect Ski Rig

Because skiing powder is absolutely critical to your health

When Kim and Dave Klopper couldn't get their rig to start after a day of skiing, they didn't bother calling for a tow. Instead, they unfolded two camp chairs, cracked open a couple beers, and watched the sun set over the snowcapped peaks. The ski area parking lot was as good a place as any to spend the night. They'd figure out the rest in the morning.

For the Park City-based couple that met skiing while in college in the Northeast, being able to park it anywhere for the night was a big part of the draw for buying a decommissioned ambulance off Craigslist last winter. After removing almost 600 pounds of superfluous electrical wire, they converted the medical supply cabinets to their pantry and closet, and turned the hose storage into their ski locker. Kim, a real estate agent, and Dave, a sales rep, found a way to keep their day jobs, hit the road with their two dogs, and have now skied for 14 straight months.

Sierra: Why the ambulance?
Kim: We realized pretty quickly if we bought a van, we wouldn't have any money left to travel. Ambulances, however, are meant to get places. They're built like a brick shithouse and everything you're going to need to build it out--cabinetry, electrical, insulation--is already inside.

Say it's a powder day. Ever flip on that siren?
Kim: When they decommission an ambulance, they pull out the siren and the flashy lights. But we have had people pull over when we're driving by, which is just fine by me.

That's a good perk. What else got you hooked on the mobile life?
Dave: We didn't bank on how much fun we'd have at smaller resorts, all these little off-the-beaten-path places that aren't part of all the consolidation that's happening. The vibe is still there. Here in Park City, I know the soul of skiing is being sucked out of this area. It was great to see how cool this sport still is when you get away from all the hype.

How a 21-year-old from the Adirondacks scored more than 100 days on skis last winter while living in his Saab.

Kim: Those are the places we get adopted into the family, and people will say hey, 'Come have some beer with us.'

Any tips on finding these hidden gems?
Dave: At first, we relied on MapQuest and our phones for directions. But we found that if it's on your phone, people have discovered it and put it out there, and that's not what we're looking for. If we're going to spend time in a place, we'll buy the map. That's the best way to go explore.

Paper maps? Next, you'll be telling me you listen to cassette tapes.
Dave: One of the first things we put in was a CV radio so we could listen to truckers on the highway. When we get tired of music, we can kind of eavesdrop. It's mostly truck talk, but we've also radioed the truck drivers to ask if we can pass.

The best gear to pack for the journey to the snow.

What's the driving-to-skiing ratio look like?
Dave: We've gotten good at driving at night, since we're skiing all day. So far we've put over 40,000 miles on the ambulance, and Kim got more than 120 days on skis last winter. Me, a little less.

Sounds like a lot of driving. Why not just vacation in Hawaii?
Kim: Have you ever skied? Skiing and sex are about the best things in the world. I don't understand the question.

This interview as first published in the February 2018 (46.6) issue of POWDER. Subscribe here.