Tag Archives: Outdoors

Dedication to the Sport

Takes one to know one. Sid Kurtz, Dirtbag King

Takes one to know one. Sid Kurtz, Dirtbag King

I recently caught up with Sid Kurtz, reigning Crystal Mountain Dirtbag King, and asked him what it took to be a member of the royalty. He said, “It’s dedication to the sport, man.” To be a true dirtbag, according to Sid, you have to be here when it rains, when it doesn’t snow, when the conditions are firm, when everyone else finds fix-it projects around the house.

I love that.

It got me thinking about dedication to skiing. It takes all kinds. There are the dirtbag types–those that surf couches in exchange for shoveling snow. There are fathers teaching their sons to sky–like the man I rode the Forest Queen chairlift with on Sunday. His young son watched jibbers hitting the Sasquatch Park and told his dad he thought jumping was awesome. The dad reminded him that controlling his skis was the first step. Once he learned how to stop and turn, then he could try out the jumps. Later, the son asked if the “wire moved” on the lift. His dad explained in painstaking detail how the chairs detached from the cable when coming into the bull wheel in order to slow down. He explained it better than I could have.

Not every day is bluebird.

Not every day is bluebird.

Then there’s the weekend warriors that fill B Lot with their RVs. Campfires flicker in the wind, illuminating these temporary abodes. Every Friday night the RV lot fills with the same vehicles, spots are staked out and neighbors chosen. By Monday morning the RVers have returned to work and left B Lot empty.

So what does it mean to be dedicated to your sport? I’ve had the opportunity to interview athletes and adventurers for my upcoming book, and every one of them is dedicated to their sport. I’ve been noticing what it takes to be dedicated to skiing.

Dirtbag Royalty, like Sid, are obviously dedicated. RV families that book a slot every weekend are dedicated too. So is the dad that carefully explains the workings of a detachable quad to his son. As is the mom that parked in Employee Housing with her daughter, rode the shuttle, rented skis, and finally got on the lift nearly an hour later. The midweek pass holders with the slopes to themselves on weekdays are dedicated. The CMAC parent that laps the race course, taking video of her son every weekend knows what it means.

To be a snow sports enthusiast, you have to put in some effort. Anyone that chooses skiing as their sport, arriving dutifully to the slopes every Friday/Wednesday/Sunday or whatever day of the week, regardless of the weather, knows what I’m talking about.

Skiing isn’t easy. Neither is snowboarding (although some might argue with me on that). It takes a little effort to get out on the slopes. But it’s worth it. The effort and dedication are worth it.

What do you think? What does dedication to the sport mean to you?

Don’t Be a Pig


Almost as beautiful in the summer

I took a hike this weekend at Crystal Mountain to enjoy the views and start getting my quads back in shape for skiing. Thanks to CMAC Ski Racing, and their annual ski area cleanup day, there’s very little garbage on the slopes. Every year countless bags of beer cans and bottle caps, ski pole baskets and plastic baggies are dragged off the mountain thanks to these volunteers. You can now walk most of the open slopes, ridges and bowls and find very little trash. It’s a beautiful thing.

However, when I got off-trail the other day–traipsing through the thick trees off Toilet Bowl–I came upon some astonishing garbage. Apparently I stumbled upon a popular “safety meeting” spot, and the leftover evidence was pretty disgusting.

Ask most ski area users why they come to the mountains in the winter time, and most will say the same thing. They come to the mountains for the fresh air, to ski/ride and to be in a beautiful place. The winter wonderland of the Cascades trumps the rainy concrete jungle of the city any day. We come to the mountains to get away from the humdrum and find some special.

Dear Mr. Keystone and Ms. Bud Light: Please don’t be a pig

So why leave your garbage behind? Why be a pig? Why, if you carried those full beer cans into the woods, can’t you carry the empties back out again?

I’m probably preaching to the choir here. Most of you readers would never throw your empties off the chairlift, or into the deep woods. You would never steal a closed sign to sit on while you chucked a six-pack of Keystone or Bud Light, with your back up against the trunk of an alpine fir.

You, dear readers, are not pigs. You are not litter bugs. Most likely, many of you were the very volunteers that picked the trash a few weekends ago. And if you ever do drop a piece of accidental trash, you chase after it, trying to step on it before it skitters under that pickup truck in the parking lot.

But just in case Mr. Keystone or Ms. Bud Light happens upon this page while googling “how not to be a jackass” here’s a few pointers:

  • Everything flows downhill

    If you must drink alcohol while skiing or riding, don’t throw your empty cans into Mother Nature’s lap. It’s bad karma. Carry a bota bag instead.

  • Go ahead and find a cozy spot in the woods to throw back a cold one with friends. But just remember: PACK IT IN, PACK IT OUT. And don’t steal our closed signs just to have a dry place to sit your ass down. That’s what Gore-Tex is for.
  • Respect Mother Nature. Beautiful places are all too rare. Don’t turn this beautiful place into a garbage dump.
  • When in doubt, follow the Dirt Bag Code of ethics. Don’t know what that is? Just look around at the guys and gals that have made Crystal Mountain (or any other ski area for that matter) their home, who live in their van in the parking lot, and have eschewed the city life in order to be here on a powder day. Do what they do.
  • And if you don’t remember anything else, remember this one thing: DISCRETION. Just because you’re crushing it and you’re the biggest badass on the whole mountain, doesn’t mean you have to be a jackass.

And for those of you that already take care of the world’s pretty places, thank you. Feel free to pass on these words of wisdom to those that could use a little extra. And don’t be afraid to remind those litterbugs that you noticed that Snickers wrapper that they dropped from the chairlift. It takes a village, people.

Women in Adventure Sports Film Festival


CMPZ Productions is debuting their first ever Women in Adventure Sports film series, and this promises to be pretty high on the awesome-o-meter. Featuring stories on climbing, mountaineering, mountain biking, kayaking, surfing and more, the films focus on adventure, community, culture and environment and on the intimacy and passion women have for their sport. This is right up my alley, so I wanted to share it with you. Their website states that they

“want to highlight women’s achievements, and support women filmmakers whenever possible.”

The films include “Send it Sistah” about highlining the Ritson Gap in Annecy, France. Remember from my earlier post about slacklining, highlining is just slacklining, but across impossibly high gaps. It’s crazy, in other words. And coming from me, that’s saying something.

Another film, “Heart of the Sea”, is about Hawaiian surfing legend Rell Sunn, who died of breast cancer in 1998. A pioneer of women’s professional surfing, Sunn was known not only for her physical power, grace and luminous beauty, but for her leadership in a community that loved her as much as she loved it.

In addition to the the lineup, they are also hosting a contest.Here’s the dope from their website:

Well … it’s not really a contest, it’s more like a “look at me!”

We want to involve local women in the film festival, and one way that we are thinking about doing it is to have a picture gallery and to show your picture sometime during the festival. So go through those 1000’s of shots and find your best action shot of you doing something related to adventure sports … crazy and fun is also good.

Hey, a prize may be involved … but it’s a secret.

Email us your easily readable image file (high resolution jpg please!). One is enough – don’t go overboard!

Get your 5 seconds of fame!

So check out this upcoming film festival. More information is still being loaded onto the site, and they have not yet posted a comprehensive schedule. Who knows, with a little encouragement, they might be willing to bring the festival to a theater near you.