31 Aug 2012

Spirit Monkeys and Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers, or let me qualify this statement, the handful of climbers that I have met since I've been in Huaraz, boast a great affinity for monkeys. To a rock climber the reasons are obvious, but for regular humans like myself, any similarity between monkeys and rock climbers had never crossed my mind (Hell, rock climbing itself just entered my radar within the past three weeks).

During my brief stint as the startled and unexpected caretaker for a spider monkey (also in Huaraz before the little dear got herself lost), I begin to see the similarities in styles of movement and to admire a monkey's kinetic creativity just like a climber. While undoubtedly strong all around, a monkey's legs generate most of the momentum and force it uses. Its lean arms work hard but in brief stints in between resting positions when its two footholds are safe and sound. A monkey scissors between flexing and stretching positions as it flits its weight from foot to hand, then opposite foot to opposite hand, making an impossible vertical staircase out of just about any surface.

One group of mountain climbers I came across all call themselves by nicknames that reference monkeys in some way. Mono is the spanish word for monkey and among this group of friends there is a Monoco, a Monaco, a Monono as well as a handful of other blokes called by different, monkey-related nicknames. Each of them sports a gorilla/monkey keychain on the backpacks they use when they brave up white peaks or along sheer rock faces.

The hostel I have been working in for these past weeks is called Monkeywasi, meaning the house of the monkey in Quetchua. It's colorful owner is nicknamed Mono, another climber whose rigged up an indoor/outdoor climbing wall within the hostel's back garden.


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