Who’s ready to eschew their manky long johns and worn-out Gore-Tex for some fun costumes, great music and pitchers of PBR? It’s that time of year again. The Dirt Bag Ball is just around the corner.
Ahow, me hearties! The theme this year is Pirates, Hags and Scallywags. So weigh the anchor and hoist the mizzen. This is the party of the season, and you do not want to miss it!
The Dirt Bag Ball is an annual fundraiser for the Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol. Every year the patrol and members of the Royal Court of Dirtbags vote on the season’s biggest dirtbags (aka ski bums, lifers, first-in-liners, B Lot denizens, and overall rock star locals) and crowns the King and Queen for the following season.
Get your tickets at the ski patrol office near the base of the gondola or call 360-663-3060 to reserve yours. The raffle this year is filled with booty. Get your raffle tickets from a patroller to support the avalanche dog program.
Saturday night Crystal patrol crowned the Dirtbag King and Queen for the 2016-17 season. Every year, we vote on male and female candidates that best embody what it means to be a “Dirtbag.” In the parlance of our ski area, being a “Dirtbag” is a good thing. A very good thing.
It’s more than simply being a ski bum. You could be a ski bum at any number of ski areas with far more options–more couches to surf, more singles to date, more bars to frequent. At Crystal, you have to be dedicated to the sport. You also have to be dedicated to the lifestyle. To be a ski bum here truly means that you’ve given up other *ahem* amenities in favor of dedicating yourself to skiing at Crystal. But in my humble opinion, there’s no better place to be a dirtbag.
This season’s honorees are no exception. These two have both dedicated their lives to Crystal. Your new DB King is Arlington Ashby. You know him from the Snorting Elk, where he has either a) served you a drink at the bar with an enviable efficiency and/or b) showed you the door because you 1) danced on a table and tried to swing from the chandelier, 2) got a little too rowdy with the shotski or 3) let your dog come inside and drink from your beer stein. Either way, Arlington did his job with a thousand-watt smile and a generosity of spirit that demonstrates one thing: Arlington loves this place. When not slinging drinks at the bar, Arlington can be found snowboarding, alpine skiing, telemarking or touring in and around Crystal. He’s a man of many talents with true dedication and a kindness that pervades his every move. We on the ski patrol and within the royal court are so pleased to welcome Arlington into the fold. Congratulations Arlington on your dedication to this place. You’re going to make a great King.
Your new DB Queen is none other than the amazing Kate Markquart. You know her from her Airstream Trailer–the one with the wood stove–that can often be found in either B Lot or F Lot. Kate and her husband Nate spend most of their nights camped in that trailer (leaving only often enough to fulfill the USFS policy of 14 consecutive nights camped within the boundary.) Kate can also be found riding (or skiing) the mountain on any given day, that shy smile and blond hair carving a wake of beauty and grace. Kate has the face of an angel and a heart of gold. Just try keeping up with her. To know Kate is to love her, and she’s going to make a great Queen. Congratulations Kate!
We consider the DB King and Queen to be ambassadors for the patrol, and we take their role seriously. We honor their dedication to the sport we all love. It takes many years to become part of this Royal Court. For those of you that have ever given up something in your life–a mortgage, a better job, a girlfriend/boyfriend that just didn’t get it–in order to pursue your passion for skiing or snowboarding, then you understand a little of what it takes to wear the crown (or Wapiti Woolies Dirtbag Hat in this case). When you see Arlington and Kate out on the hill, throw them a high-five. They deserve it.
A couple of new royals have been crowned here at Crystal Mountain. Congratulations to Tara Simpson and Nate Markquart for becoming our 2014-2015 Dirtbag King and Queen. Some of you often ask, “what does it take to become royalty.” The short answer: it isn’t easy. Just take a look at all that Tara and Nate as examples.
Tara has skied at Crystal for 28 years, and most years she skis 120+ days every season. That’s more than some of us on the patrol! When the lifts close, she keeps skiing all year on the mountains and glaciers of the PNW. For five years in a row, she made turns all year (that’s skiing at least once every month of the year).
She lives full time in Greenwater with her husband Carl, who she regularly skis with at Crystal. She’s lost count of how many first chairs and first gondola cabins she’s been on. She has even worked her professional life into 40 hours on the weekends so that she can ski Monday through Thursday every week.
Tara says it best when she explains why, “My happiness and freedom is found in the mountains. It’s what fills me up.”
Nate Markquart has had a season’s pass at Crystal since 1998. He stays in his 1968 Airstream trailer with his wife Kate and their two labs. He’s also lived in the clubs, and in Steve Fratella’s trailer over the years, but finally purchased the trailer four seasons ago and they haven’t looked back.
Nate is known in B Lot as the host with the most. He and Kate regularly host dinners and after-ski parties at their cozy trailer complete with a wood stove. Nate is known all over the mountain as a generous and positive force.
While Nate has many favorite runs at Crystal, when the snow is light and powdery down to the road, he loves to ski Left Angle Trees. Even this season he had one great run in Left Angle that he claims made the entire season worthwhile.
Look for Nate and Tara next season in their Wapiti Woolies Dirtbag hats. Our members of the royal class often act as informal liaisons between patrol and the public. So feel free to reach out our King and Queen if you have any questions or concerns. They deserve your respect. These two are certainly the real deal. Welcome to the Dirtbag world you two.