Blister covered feet accompanied leg muscles burning with lactic acid, I was beyond exhaustion after my first ride up Fitz Roy. I inhaled a lungful of dust due to following Scott too closely down the trail as we tried to make it down to El Chalten before dark.
Ben Lepesant, my new friend from Luxemburg, and I just finished climbing The Regular Route on Half Dome in a quick 7 hours and 20 minutes. We ran down the Death Slabs and I again was following him too closely on the loose and poorly defined trail. That similar taste of dirt in my mouth took me back to Patagonia, and I was mesmerized by the vivid flashback.
It was my first time roping up with Ben, and we made good time on the route despite the tricky logistics of passing three teams in the chimneys before big sandy ledge.
The mission took us 14 hours Camp 4 to Camp 4, and it felt casual. Due to all of the monkey work* that I have been getting, my legs and back are in good shape. I carry heavy haul bags for people that want to climb big walls, but don't want to carry all of their heavy gear.
*Monkey: a climber committed to the 'climber life'. A term commonly used in the valley.
*Monkey Work: jobs that require the use of monkeys.
Because of the technical aspect of getting to the top of the big formations in the valley, only climbers can get hired for these jobs. Most of the monkeys that are currently in the valley are rather unmotivated, and has left me with all of the work. Let's just say I have made enough money to pay for my next big climbing trip this winter.