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.