The Dudes

I could have tried to write a great poem, a ballad of sorts for these guys, but my means are humble. Because I opened a parenthesis in my last post, I felt the surge to open wider on the subject.

These guys, the dudes, a term that is too general, but here it refers to a specific group of people, are populating the mountains of the West, the mighty Rockies. You might see them on the east coast as well, and unexplained apparitions were actually reported, but I only think those were either exceptions or just imagination.

The dudes show up at the base of the resorts, and they mix with the public. Most of the times they pass unnoticed in the crowd. But if one pays closer attention, it will distinguish them as they are moving elegantly, skis on their shoulders, among the vacationing skiers. Their outfit seems to be like all the others, but it’s pretty different. To see that, you need a very close and expert look. The most contrasting particularity about that is the way the clothing is worn out, the little scratches, the little patches and the stains of oils originating from some antique installations.

It is well known that skiing is an expensive activity, reserved for those that see over six digits on their annual paychecks. For that reason, the presence of the dudes on top there, close to the skies, is some kind of mystery that is still to be unveiled. I was told that they drive their rusty trucks up the mountain. Some are hitchhiking and some found jobs as crew members in the resorts. But from what I experienced, I think they appear on the mountain from the ethereal air of high altitudes. They materialize from some kind of mixture of low oxygen atmosphere and dry snow flakes. They are, therefore, some kind of mythological creatures of our days of which we might not be yet aware and about whose origin and creation we discovered nothing yet.

The dude’s fundamental skill is apparently sliding on the snow, on skis. Or at least, this is what we think they do based on our personal experience. I spent several seasons, in multiple places in the Rockies, anonymously studying their skill and talents. The main purpose of my study was to find out the secret of their skill, try to theorize it and, if I get lucky, to conclude it, eventually apply it in practice. I was disappointed to see the results of my assiduous work being completely irrelevant. All the data collected ended up in the trash bin because I couldn’t find a conclusion that would have summed up all my observations. The main issue I had was calculating the relationship between the friction of the skis on the snow, the movements of the skier’s body to perform the maneuvers and the resulting trace that skies were taking on the surface. The unknown of the equation was the friction of the skis on the snow. Despite conducting careful measurements, and using the best machines and software to compute the data, the computers were giving a perpetual error. After tens of trials, I gave up, and I just hopped on a chairlift and went up the mountain. I spent a few more seasons hopelessly analyzing the dudes until I finally turned to poetry, one that will never be published. Because this is what the dudes are doing on the slopes, they are transforming technical movements into verses and rhymes.

The above called dudes defy the basic laws of economy and physics. They get to the mountain lacking the most basic means a regular human needs to access the terrain: money. If the powder will call them, they reach to the most expensive resort. The regular individual will have to make plans, write checks and spend extra hours at the office to save time and resources needed to go skiing, and if they are really out of luck, they might actually miss the most important factor they need: snow. The dudes will just materialize on the top of the mountain and find their way downhill with no maps, weather forecasts, signs or marks. They will follow their instincts and ski over the most dangerous and unpredictable terrain. To me, they look like unreal beings dropping from the tallest and the most inaccessible peaks to the valleys where we, the mortals, live.

During one of my rides up on a chair lifts, being a little exhausted from the lack of oxygen and a little drowsy from the blinding witness of the fresh snow, I saw one of these dudes jumping in the air towards the cables, almost colliding with us than landing back on the track in a smooth and elegant way. I looked at the pole we were passing, with the metallic cables hanging and quickly estimated its height: it was close to 40 feet. The chorus of skiers exclaimed their awes in wows and holy shits and moved away with incredulity.

That scene helped me understand the reason of all the failures of the research I was doing: there is no friction between the dudes’ skis and the snow, these guys are flying at low altitude above the ground defying the laws of gravitation as we know them.

You might think the dude is some kind of athlete, the kind you see in the comfortable cities, coming out from the gym, exposing perfect bodies, and superiorly looking over the regular people, sipping rhythmically from their water bottles and thinking disappointingly how wrong and inferior are all those who are not following their routines. You are all wrong! A dude is not an exceptional athlete. The dude drinks only when can find water in a liquid form. They usually eat crude snow judging by their ice clogged beards. The dude can devour the most unhealthy burger in just a few chews or downpour a pint of beer in just one sip. But the dude can also survive on just pure air, and they don’t need oxygen to be added in the mixture. When you see a dude on the slope, turn your head and make a cross with your tongue if you are a churchgoer because the ski dude is a wizard that can put spells on you. You will risk to be forever bonded to the magic of a mountain covered with fresh snow.

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