Saturday, December 13, 2008

Canyonlands Hike

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Indian Creek, Part Two

After a few days at the Creek, Jim Donini invited me to drive over to Ouray on Sunday, climb in the afternoon on the pool wall with him and Dan and some others, then have dinner together at the Bon Ton. It was a nice drive over the desert and through Old Lasalle, Paradox, Naturita, Norwood, and Ridgeway to Ouray. We climbed with Eric Weihenmayer, Chris Archer & Sarah Spaulding, Rob Raker and his wife, Annette Bunge. It was a really nice day on the rock, and I was glad I had made the trip. At dinner time I called Charlotte Fox who just happened to be driving over from Aspen and was just at the junction in Ridgeway. She drove her snowmachines to the house and joined us at the Bon where Dan treated us to a great meal.

The next day Jim headed to the Black Canyon with Dan, and I headed back to Indian Creek for another week of climbing. Once there the whole climbing world descended on Creek Pasture camping site. Charlotte was there, and I called Dr. Debbie Wheeler who drove her camper over and joined us. Jay Smith and Kitty Calhoun arrived. I had a nice campsite at the north end where everyone could camp. Kristin arrived and climbed with Charlotte. Many others, too numerous to name arrived, including Micah Salazar, Mark Soot & Kay Fisher, Tom Engelbach & Karla Shaw, Jordan Campbell, Kirra ?, and tons of others.

Christian Beckwith, the day after Alpinist Magazine folded, joined us and I ended up climbing with him and Jay Smith the next day. Here Jay Smith belays Christian:
Jim Nigro was camped next door and climbed with us the next day:

It was a great day of climbing!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Indian Creek, Part One

Every year I have made a point of traveling south from Alaska to the warmer climes of Indian Creek to climb the cracks with old friends. It's my favorite journey of the year. Jim Donini has always been the gracious host, guide, and guru, and living in nearby Ouray, is always up for a trip to the "Creek" at a moment's notice.

The standard campground for the gang is "Creek Pasture", and Donini had asked me to save a large campsite, since the whole tribe would be arriving for the weekend. I arrived without a climbing partner, so the next morning I decided to take a hike and made friends with Erin and Grant who were camped next door.

We searched near Sparks Wall for Anasazi ruins, but were skunked, having a great day nevertheless. Donini came in the evening with his friend Dan from Kentucky. Around the campfire, we made more friends. It's my favorite camping spot on earth.

By morning we had a posse ready to lay siege to the Cat Wall.

Jim, the master of Indian Creek, on "Unnamed".

After a few morning climbs on the Cat Wall, the sun started to cook, so we hiked back down across to the shade of Reservoir wall. Tom Engelbach, Karla Shaw, Mark Soot, and Kay Fisher had already wandered across.Donini found a hard crack and showed us all up with a tense ascent while I looked on with admiration. The evening brough even more friends. Next morning Jim and Dan were off to do some classic cracks; Tom, Mark, and Karla went to Lightning Bolt Crack on North Sixshooter; I headed to Supercrack Buttress with Kay Fisher. I had only been doing half climbs up to now, being the first time I'd climbed this year due to an accident on a fishing boat in June. But today, it was a fantastic time for me, climbing on "The Wave", and "Incredible Hand Crack".

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Christmas cactus blooms

The Christmas Cactus bloomed this past few weeks and now has about a hundred blossoms, with buds ready to open at the end of every succulent segment, perhaps another hundred blossoms by the end of the month. It is the most beautiful blooming in the history of the plant.

Another view, but it is hard to do it justice with a photo; all of the blossoms are much richer and darker than this pale semblance. I don't know what I've done, probably benign neglect, rather than knowledgeable care, has done the trick.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


After a week climbing at Indian Creek, I drove to Mancos, CO, to visit Fred and Sheri at the Alpacka Factory. Here's the Alpacka Factory on the right.

The Alpacka Factory sits on Sam Perry's ranch, a half of the giant shop in back of the homestead. Here Fred stands at the front door ready for work.

Sheri, owner, designer, and entrepreneur, at the sewing machine.

The new taping/sealing machine shows how professional the new factory is. Here the boat sections are bonded together.
Nick is cutting the silky silicone-coated nylon for the stuff sacks on the 16' cutting table.

A raft in the making: after the tubes are assembled, a floor is attached and spray skirt sealed to the top.
Grab loops are attached with the RF welder.

In the evening Fred took me to his beautiful new home nine miles to the north.
The house is beautiful, inside and out. Here is a beautiful table in the living room. Fred is a master cabinet maker and is building a shop in the back of the house.

As the sun set out his front porch, we enjoyed this great view of the lake in the foreground. It was a wonderful visit.

Monday, September 29, 2008

MCA Ice Festival

It was a great weekend! The weather was perfect: cool, calm, sunny, and the perfect temperature to keep the ice firm for climbing and hard enough to hold the ice screws from melting out. I drove up to the Matanuska Glacier on Friday, set up camp, had a fantastic steak dinner compliments of Harry Hunt and Dani Evenson. The next morning our group met at the parking lot overlooking the glacier. Rob Litsenberger was my co-instructor for a great group: Jacob Absalon, Ed Serrano, Chelsea Rembert, Alyssa Rembert, Kim Kawaguchi, Josh Carter, and Vicki Schrader.

Here we are set up at the belay with the mud lake and toe of the glacier in the background. Ed is belaying as Kim watches from behind him, with Alyssa, Chelsea, Jacob, and Rob in checking it out.Chelsea ready for action.

Alyssa, tearing it up on the overhanging wall.

Vicki glued to the wall with her ice tools.

Kim, high on the face!

After two great days, Rob, Ed, and Josh in more comfortable clothes ready for the trip home!!

You can click at the top title or below for a link to my Picasa page for all the photos of our group:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Walker-Turner Lathe

Last Fall when I was in Boulder, Paul Sibley gave me an old Walker-Turner lathe from 1938. I have cleaned it up and started to restore it. I'm getting an old motor, a new Tailstock live center. I built a bench for it, and am looking forward to turning some wood!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bob and Marcia's new home

Sunday afternoon, Rebecca and I went to Sis's Antiques where I bought an old Griswold #7 frying pan to add to the collection. Afterward, we stopped by Bob and Marcia Blaszak's new home in Wasilla.
This is a photo of the home from the road.

Rebecca Case, in the classic Sarah Palin pose, surveys the dining room off the kitchen area. Bob has completed the heating in the floor, the sheetrock and plaster work is completed, awaiting painting this week.
Bob's pride and joy, the hangar in the driveway.

Denali Park House

Twenty five years ago we built a log home in Denali Park, AK. Over the years, many people have rented the place, and it has been a great home to all. It was showing signs of age, so this summer I traveled north 0n several weekends and did maintenance to the place, getting it ready for sale. The photo above shows the driveway from the garage and the home in the trees.

A view from the front of the house at the front steps and front door to the arctic entryway.

After a coat of log oil, it looks remarkably better. Rebecca Case came up for the weekend and helped me sand and oil the logs. We cleaned the property, took two dump runs, and hauled all the old insulation out of the garage.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


A few weeks ago I read the Sunday edition of the Anchorage Daily News and was caught by an article on Geoff Roes' record-busting run in the Resurrection Pass 100-Miler; he beat the course record by nearly four hours. I know all the Alaska races are tough: Mount Marathon, the brutal jump-fest run up and back by Bill Spencer in 1981 in 43:11 and Nancy Pease in 1990 in 50:30; Crow Pass, a marathon over mountains and through a glacial river; the Alaska Wilderness Challenge, the multi-day race that only the "Alaska Crazies" enter. So it was with great interest that I noticed how Roes had smashed the 100-mile race record. I recommend you read the whole inspiring article at:

Near the end, Roes points to his training regimen and mentions that he uses a website for his training log, and anyone can look it up:
This inspired me to train a bit harder and actually use the same orienteering training site to log my activity. The book "Cycling Past 50" recommends cycling at least 5 days a week, however I also love to hike, so I've interspersed the hiking and cycling. Those are just about the only two activities I've done this summer, with a dislocated shoulder. The site has a slight motivational factor for me, so I could actually wear a heart monitor, start setting goals, and be a bit more professional about the training. However, I've never been big on regular exercise, not a routine person, but rather a free spirit who loves to follow his whims.

If you are interested, you can read my embarrassingly short entries at:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


The gorgeous old Legnano, my first great road bike, bought in 1970 from Bob Stout at Transition Sports in Salt Lake City, UT. I handed him three $100 bills for it, full Campagnolo equipped, 57cm. In spite of current trends, I tossed the old leather "Italia" seat and have a more comfortable Terry on it. It has hand painted aluminum fenders, the chrome is spalling off the front fork because I ride it in the rain so much. It still performs beautifully.

The 54cm French Stella is very light...possibly the lightest steel bike I've ridden. It has poor workmanship, crummy looking lugs, the paint is a little old, components are all bolt on with actual hex-bolts, Stronglight crank, Weinemann brakes, Huret derailleurs...all English/French threads, so it's impossible to get new parts for it. I love to ride it on errands.

I got the 54cm Ciocc at a garage sale for $25; it had never been ridden, still had the original tape, and not a speck of dust. Even though I have newer and faster bikes, it is a fantastic ride!! The lug work is amazing, but the pink and white paint job is tough for an Alaska guy.

The 54cm Cervelo is the epitome of a road bike, way too much for a geezer like myself, but riding it is a joy. It's so light it responds instantly. Whenever I ride, I can't make myself go slowly, so it's always a workout!!

When I got the Bianchi "Pista" track bike, with a fixed gear, everyone thought I was crazy, until they gave it a spin. I ride it every day. It just flies, and my legs get a super workout. The geometry is very different from a road bike, and it has a totally different feel from the others.

A great light-weight 29er, single speed: the Gary Fisher "Rig", my newest bike, and the only one with a shock. Never knew mountain biking could be so fun!

The old Novara mountain bike. No shocks, no frills, no clips, just a great bike to leave at a trailhead or bridge for the return trip on a hike or river run. Only weighs 50 pounds or so...not a one handed lift, for sure. It's seen a lot of miles over the past 20 years.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cast Iron Cookery

Over the years the scullery has filled with a large number of heavy pieces of cast iron cookwear. Either I'm obsessive/compulsive, or the stuff just works, because I use all of it for cooking; none of it's for show. Most of the pieces are fairly old, ranging back from now to the 70's, 60's, 50's, 40's, 30's, and even the 20's. None of the pieces are older, although fine cast iron was made well before the turn of the last century.

Some is very modern, like the contemporary Lodge red enameled dutch oven. Easy to use and clean; and it's beautiful!

Lange is a Danish company that made the beautiful red enameled stove in the Denali Park house. This little Fondue Pot is a green enamel on the outside, white in the middle. Lots of Swiss Cheese has melted in this pot. I bought it in about 1978,

Hibbard must have been a forge somewhere, but I have yet to find any information on this old dutch oven lid.

Four little cast iron kettles for beans, puddings, soup, or what not. They have a trivet leg set underneath. No markings of origin.

How about this old Griswold 10 1/2 inch Chicken Fryer, not made by Griswold because it doesn't say Erie PA. But, it's a fun old piece. It probably dates from the late 50's or early 60's.

The Platt Pan was made by Jotul. I cook the little unleavened pancakes like I did in Finland 45 years ago. In fact, I own two of them, so I can get a bunch of lettuja going at once, so they are ready at the same time for breakfast. Cooked in lots of butter, sprinkled with powdered sugar and a squirt of lemon, they are a treat.

I've used the old Norwegian Jotul waffle iron for over 30 years. The little heart shaped waffles are my favorite. It sits over a gas stove on a ring with a ball to swivel on. Spring steel handles allow the sides to be squeezed for a bit.

Three 6" pans I paid $2 each at a thrift stores over the years. They are great for one-person meat dishes.

The bottoms of the three pans are all different: the first one has a heat ring and the words: 'No. 3 - 6 5/8 inch' , the second has no marks, and the third the first one says '6 1/2" Skillet - Made in U S A'.

Although modern, the little 8" pan is very useful for making cornbread in the oven and dinner for one. It's a contemporary Lodge piece.

Last weekend I found this old Griswold No.7 Cast Iron Skillet at Sis's Antique store in Wasilla, AK. It was slightly rusty and a bit the worse for wear, but after cleaning and seasoning, it's a beauty!!!

Through the old rust, I could see the italicized "Griswold" in the large cross with the words "ERIE" below, and 701 with a "0" below it. This piece probably dates from 1895-1020.

My old 10 5/8:" frying pan is my favorite. I've cooked on it for over 35 years. I'm not sure who made it or where I got it, but it has the "heat ring" for use on a wood stove, so it may be fairly old. No company logo to be seen anywhere on the pan

My largest frying pan, a new Lodge 12" with the signs of lots of cooking in it.

The old frying pan is 11 1/8" with the small Griswold logo on the bottom. The small logo means it was likely made after 1957 by the Wagner company which bought the Griswold rights.

This piece is a Griswold dutch oven. The first photo is of the oven with the lid on and the wire handle up. The second photo shows the underside of the lid which has a ceramic dove gray coating, The third photo shows the underside of the oven with the large GRISWOLD cross and ERIE PA and the words, "Tite-Top" Dutch Oven. It likely dates from the 1940's when the logo still said Erie, PA, but the Griswold was not italicized anymore. Its a beauty, with a golden tone to the seasoning.