The Pacific Northwest has no shortage of nature's bounty—the Cascade Range, the Pacific Ocean, Columbia River Gorge, and more mountains, lakes, streams, canyons, and waterfalls than you can count in a lifetime serve testament to that. But while there are many places in the Pacific Northwest that could go on any outdoor enthusiast's List, there are also just as many outrageous events. One of these events goes down every March at Washington's Crystal Mountain. The Dirtbag Ball is a dance party put on by the Crystal ski patrol, but it is better described as one of the biggest gatherings of ski bums in the country. Not “ski bums” in the liberal sense of the word, but people who have actually made a living off doing whatever it takes to get some good powder turns. One past winner spent a winter in the employee housing for free, convincing everybody he was a "grooming inspector," only to later admit he was never actually employed (by anyone).
Despite the rough-around-the-edges stories, these bums know how to have a good time, and welcome anyone else who likes to do the same. I was lucky enough to wander up to this year's Dirtbag Ball to celebrate another successful ski season in the PNW, and let me assure all the skiers and snowboarders in the Seattle area (and that's a lot of you), this is one party that you don't want to miss.
After a night of raucous dancing, and an unbelievable collection of fellow dirtbags, I already can’t wait until next year.