Friday, March 27, 2009


Ascending eruption cloud from Redoubt Volcano and its reflection in the waters of Cook Inlet. View is to the west from the Kenai Peninsula. Photograph by J. Warren, April 21, 1990

At 11:47 pm Thursday night, Mount Redoubt volcano 100 miles SW of Anchorage erupted again. It has been erupting fairly continuously since Monday's first six eruptions. But we dodged the bullet on that one! The ash clouds were blown northwest up the Susitna Valley over Mount McKinley rather than onto Anchorage. Early this morning more eruptions sent ash clouds 65,000' into the sky and the ash cloud was blown southeast depositing its microscopic glass shards in a grey dust on Homer, Alaska. That shut down all Alaska Airlines flights in and out of Anchorage.

But just a few minutes ago, the volcano blew again, and this time the Puff Prediction shows the ash heading for Anchorage at every altitude. Ash is composed of tiny shards of glass, like obsidian, that can be devastating to engines of all kinds, so air filters are at a premium. It can infect lungs and sinuses, so Alaskans are stocking up on face masks. Hundreds of thousands are available at Home Depot, drug stores, and most department stores. If ash falls tomorrow, it can shut down a variety of businesses. The airlines are wrapping the planes in plastic. Car owners are hiding them in the garages. The military has whisked all their planes to other air bases, like Fairbanks.

Here's what we read from the National Weather Service:
1224 AM AKDT FRI MAR 27 2009






It's a big mess, and it could continue for months!


My dad fished or hunted every Friday or Saturday his whole life, at least as far back as I can remember. At age 85, he was just as passionate about the sports as he was when I was young. He was unsteady on his feet, and we worried about him, but had the spunk of a teenager. A purist at heart, he would only fish his bamboo rods, with dry flies, on small streams. He loved to take our mother or any of us with him. Every time he caught a fish he'd shout, "Look, look! Come here! Why don't you just stand right by me and catch a fish!"

One night I got a call from Mom; she was at home in Salt Lake City, I was in Alaska. Mom was very worried about Dad: "He went fishing and promised to be home by dark. It's 9:30 at night, and I don't know what's happened to him." "Call Tony", I said. Tony is my brother who lives close by. So, Tony came over to help, thinking he might have to drive up to the mountains and start a search. Just as he arrived, Dad walked in.

His story, as best as I can remember it ten years later:

"You know Chalk Creek up the the Uintah mountains? I drove up there to catch some of those little brook trout. But, they put up a guard rail on the road, so I couldn't drive the van down to the creek. So, I parked the car by the side of the road, hopped over the guard rail, and slid down the steep embankment to the stream. I fished under a blue sky in that bubbly water that rippled down the mountainside. All afternoon I caught little brookies as I made my way around the bends farther and farther up stream. It was so much fun; I wish you would have been there with me. I'd promised your mother that I'd be home by dark, so I fished my way back down to the embankment where the car was parked.

"It was a steep hillside, so I hooked my fishing rod to my vest, and used both hands to climb up the slippery gravel and rocks to the road. I was almost there; my eyes were nearly level with the pavement when the clumps of grass in my hands broke, and I fell backwards down the hill and landed on a ledge. My knees were so bruised I could hardly bend them, but I tried going up again and couldn't get up the last steep section. I stood on the ledge and screamed at the top of my lungs every time a car came by. Well, after an hour or so I knew no one could hear me, and Mom would be really worried.

"Just downhill from me was a drainage culvert that ran under the road and emptied into the stream below. I figured if I could get through it, I would end up on the uphill side of the road, so I made my way down and over to it and crawled in. My knees were so bruised, I couldn't crawl, and it was really narrow...maybe 18" wide. So I scooched along on my butt, pushing backwards with my hands and feet clear under the highway until I popped out on the other side. There was the car! Much relieved I hauled my battered carcass across the highway to the car, and I just got home. But you know the worst thing of all? I lost those beautiful little fish in the culvert!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


A Brief History
Keystone Canyon
The Valdez Ice Fest was an institution. Dr. Andrew Embick and friends started it in 1982, and the event ran until a year or so ago. Each February, I would take the family and participate in the Friday bonfire at the beach near the Valdez, Alaska, harbor where at least a hundred wood pallets were burned, hot dogs were incinerated, hair was singed, and kegs were consumed. Saturday morning, we would climb the great frozen waterfalls of Keystone canyon: Bridalveil Falls 850', Keystone Greensteps 850', Simple Twist of Fate, or Hung Jury. Saturday night was a giant spaghetti feed at a local restaurant, and afterwards folks would drink more beer or worse at the local bars. There was always a speed-climbing event on the first pitch of 'Greensteps'. It was as much a social as a sport.

Four years ago, Kirsten Kremer had a brilliant idea: organize an all-women's event, 'The Ice Pixies', where women could climb together without the glaring eye and overbearing advice of the men. It turned out to be a whooping success. So much so, that the guys couldn't stay away. Who could stay in Anchorage when "The Whipsaws" were playing rock and roll music for a mob of hot hardbodies in Valdez? So, the guys hung on the periphery, climbing together and meeting in the evening for the dance and free beer.


With this history and vision in my mind, I organized a group of friends to drive over to the 'Pixies' again this year. Cynthia, Amy, and I hopped in Troy's truck, piled in gobs of gear, and headed east on the 5-hour drive along the Chugach, the most beautiful mountain scenerey in Alaska. We breezed throught he cultural desert of Glenallen, Alaska, and stopped for gas and muchies at the "T" intersection, where a left turn would take us through Canada to the rest of the known world. A right turn leads to Valdez, the termination of the Alaska Pipeline, scene of the great Exxon-Valdez oil spill, the phantasmagoric Chugach mountains, the utter beauty of Prince William Sound, and the greatest frozen waterfalls in Alaska.

We had left at 8am, so we had time to climb a short icefall: "Horsetail Falls", a broad cascade of wide steps of ice undulating down the cliff side. The climbs are adjacent the road, so no approach was necessary; we buckled on our climbing harnesses, crampons, and grabbed the ice tools for the climb. The perfectly formed ice gobbled up the tools, and we climbed two moderate pitches up to an old Alder tree trunk festooned with nylon slings from which we would rappel back to the base on our climbing ropes. That evening we ate Mexican food and watched Kirsten Kremer's inspirational slide show charting her perigrinations around the world in search of big mountains, great snow and steep cliffs. With dreams of steep ice and big mountains we wandered back to the inn hot tubs and rest.

Hung Jury

Jazzed by our success the previous day, we headed for Keystone Canyon. Troy and I dropped Cynthia and Amy at the Pixies event, and we headed up "Hung Jury", a wild composite of ice bells formed by the constant winds past the bottleneck turn in the canyon. Sitting in the large room-size bell at the base was a lonely climber, abandonned earlier in the morning by his friends, awaiting the first humans to adopt him. We offered him a ride up the ice on our rope. Climbing over the bulges, bells, and up the vertical 200' icicle was the best, the epitome of ice climbing. It was early afternoon, so time to wander over to the Pixies and check out the action. The women had a line of ropes set up on the ice to belay the beginning and intermediate climbers in safety. Eight hundred feet of ice hung over the event and glistened in the afternoon sun; we sat on our packs in the snow and soaked in the heat, taking pictures of friends and hurling encouragement upward. Bryan Teal arrived with a keg of beer, charcoal grill, and all the fixings; he stuffed us with fine Copper River red salmon all afternoon.

Bryan Teale

The Eagles Lodge

The Pixies had organized a huge potluck at the Eagles Lodge, replete with a keg of Moose's Tooth beer hauled over from Anchorage. Socializing began; I worked the room to find old friends; and the band began to rock. My friend Cynthia asked, 'Do you swing?' Well, I learned to dance in Mrs. Sanderson's 5th grade class, so we did swing! I was on fire; the women were beautiful; the band blasted; and the night was off to a great start.

Attack of the Orcas

At 1:30am the band finally fizzled, and I was absolutely ready to wander back to the hotel. But foggier minds urged us to move to the "Pipeline" for margaritas. The rock and roll band at the Pipeline was hot, so the dancing continued unabated for hours. At 4am (Valdez bars close at 5am), I was still shimmying on the dance floor with Amy and others. A woman the size of an Orca with a drink in one hand grabbed my belt and pulled me smashingly close into her soft rolls. From the back another Orca, also holding a drink in her free hand, pushed into my back, grabbed the belt and crushed me like a hamburger patty. I was finally a piece of meat. As I was groped and grabbed to the beat of the band, unable to gracefully extricate myself from the sandwich, I wondered how I had ever ended up like this. I'd never closed a bar before; hell, I'd never stayed anywhere this late.

As I squeezed out like a bar of soap in a wet hand, two troglodites with long stringy hair and the usual missing body parts slipped off the bar stools and hauled onto the two girlfriends. Another woman walked by, and I sensed bad blood in the mumbled comments. Suddenly it was a slugfest. I had grabbed my coat and was heading out the door, but Curiosity turned my head. Hoping I wouldn't end up like Lot's wife, I stood transfixed at the fracas, watching the bartenders hop the bar and grab the women in the ring to stop the fight. The lights went up and it was clear the bar was instantly closed. My evening was at an end. The hotel was only across the street, a particuar blessing.

Bridalveil Falls
Bridalveil Falls
The morning dawned clear and cold with a 30 knot wind whistling through town. But for some strange reason I slept in a bit, in spite of my love of climbing and desire to get out on the ice with my friends. Breakfast at The Totem is a feast and time stood still. Could it have been that the portions of omlettes and pancakes were blue-collar monstrous? Maybe this is the best part of the trip; I love breakfast. Troy's helping of bacon looks like a side of pork. I think there is a pound of cheese melted in my omlette. I'm wondering how they make pancakes this big. The crowd in the room is a mix: Sunday morning locals, heli-ski clients and guides, and the Pixies.

The wind was howling through Vadez as we drove north; it was 20 F., and Keystone Canyon was brutal. A natural venturi, the wind whistled through driving us back into the truck wondering if we had the umph to get out on the ice. We had come to climb. It was our last chance for the big ice, so we jumped into our warmest clothes and hauled our gear over to the base of Bridalveil Falls where the Pixies were setting up fixed ropes. The purpose of the Pixies was to give women the confidence to climb. So I encouraged Cynthia to lead the first pitch of dripping chandelliered ice, a vertical pillar over a hundred feet high. She was marvelous! With all the confidence of a master, she gracefully floated upwards, sticking the ice tools into the grooves and crannies of the ice, exploiting its vulnerabilities. Slowly, methodically, she reached the anchors, turned, smiled, waved, and lowered off. This was the highlight. This is why we had come, and I had a chance to be a tiny part of it.
Cynthia on lead
In spite of cold temperatures, high winds, and falling ice, we had 'Cheated death once more!'

Sherrie Soltis


My father bought me a little chair when I was three. It was WWII. We were living in Aurora, Colorado, and Dad was a military doctor at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital. The chair had a maroon wool needlepoint seat with a flower pattern. I loved the chair; it was a part of my life and our home as far back as I can remember. It sat in my parents home for thirty five years, and five more children and many grandchildren rubbed their bottoms across its flowered seat. When my son Thor was born, my father gave me the chair which I hauled from Salt Lake City to our log cabin home in Alaska. Thor and Daphne sat on it from the time they were babies. The little flower in the center of the seat finally lost its threads, but the outline remained. Broken many times, it finally came to rest under the crawl space of the house, splintered parts of the back lay separated from the seat. Somehow I managed to keep all the pieces and moved it many times, intending to put it back together.

A few weeks ago, I found the chair under the house, dragged its broken pieces up to the shop and went to work. Most of the glue joints had loosened, so I took the chair completely apart and delicately removed the chunks of glue from the mortises and tenons. The shellac had mostly flaked off, so I lightly sanded the whole chair. The needlepoint had been tacked on. I lightly pried each of the 60 tacks and took it to the dry cleaners to remove the 60 years of crud. Now to reconstruct the chair: several pieces were splintered beyond repair, so keeping as much of the original as possible, I spliced new pieces on with a variety of hand-fitted joints. Next I filled in the dents and gouges with a wood slurry. Originally the wood had been had been stained a red mahogany, so I restained each piece, then coated it with urethane, rather than the original shellac. Finally I glued the entire chair back together, tacked on the needlepoint, and brought it into the living room. A labor of love!
The next day, my friend Rebecca brought her 3-year old grandson by. He saw the chair and made a beeline for it, smiling as he sat down. Kids know a piece that's made for them.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Lance Mackey is nearing the end of the Iditarod Trail Sleddog race. Early this morning he arrived at Elim, a small village along the Northwest Arctic coast of Alaska, 825 miles into the thousand mile race, way ahead of his next competitors. The temperature is -11 F., with wind to 35 mph, bringing the windchill to -35 F. It was worse last night. A following musher, Hugh Neff is reported to have serious frostbite on his face, in spite of the huge parkas with fur ruffs to keep him warm. No one can catch him. He's obliterating the competition. Mackey's dog team is amazingly fast, and he is unbelievably tough. Lance's grandfather, Dick Mackey, and his father, Rick Mackey, were both Iditarod race champions. But Lance is in another class.

Everyone has heard about Lance Armstrong and his bout with cancer, but Mackey is also a cancer survivor, and throat cancer at that. Just competing would have been a major accomplishment. But Lance is more than just a competitor; he has won the Iditarod the last two years. Incredible, yes! But, he also won the 1000-mile Yukon Quest race between Fairbanks, Alaska, and Whitehorse, Canada, those same two years! And, these huge races are back to back. I've been fascinated by the races for my near 30 years in Alaska, having run the Yukon Quest myself three times. I was so tired and done in by the end of one race I couldn't imagine getting back on the sled for a second time a few weeks later. So I'm mesmerized by his performance.

Two weeks ago I stood at the starting line of the Junior Iditarod and watched his stepson blast out of the starting gate with the family team. The dogs, the real champion athletes in this race, had already raced in the Yukon Quest, and now the pulled young Cain Carter to the finish line first, the fourth scion in the Mackey hall of fame.

If you want to read more about his fascinating and inspirational life, check out:

And for race updates and to see his amazing finish:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


"Lost Cord" up Hunter Creek

The first Alaska Ice Climbing Festival was a roaring success! Jayme Dixon (at right below) was the originator and prime mover of the whole event, so I have to give her credit up front.

Many others donated a tremendous amount of time and energy to make the Fest the gala event that it was. I could write a whole blog just on the volunteerism of the folks who assembled to produce the Ice Fest. Julie Perilla was our webmaster who created the site where you can check out all the details:

The event was held in Hunter Creek, Chugach Mountains, Alaska, on March 6-8. Here's a rundown of the events:

Friday night Jamie of the Alaska Backpacker's Inn donated his place for the initial dinner. Tom Devine and Harry Hunt cooked us a great meal of salad and meatball penne pasta. Great Harvest Bread Company donated adult refreshments and cookies. It seemed like nearly a hundred folks came and went over the evening. Sam Johnson, a Black Diamond sponsored local, presented slides of his climbing all over the world: "Getting Steep with Vision: Experiences of a Seeker." Check-out Sam’s blog

Saturday, we met early at Hunter Creek to set up the giant North Face geodesic dome which would be headquarters over the weekend for sign up, equipment rental, and clinics. Jayme Dixon held court here most of the time.

A number of clinics, including: Intro to Ice Climbing, Anchors, Fundamental Footwork, Belaying a Second; and Joe Stock and I taught Basic Rescue Skills.

At noon Harry Hunt had set up a great competition route high on a chossy, overhanging rock wall just to the right of "Lost Cord" ice climb. 20 competitors jumped into the fray. At one point I counted over 75 people in the audience watching the comp. Chris Lindsey was our DJ and had hauled in a generator, speakers, computer, and a PA system so I could announce the comp. The music rocked!

Jay Rowe won the event, just beating the time of second place Scotty Vinchik, with Joe Stock, straight off the couch, coming in third. It was a total crowd-pleaser.

Jay Rowe on the 110 degree overhanging rock wall.

Jay Rowe talks with folks following his climb.

Saturday night we all drove in to the Organic Oasis for a dinner of great food. I was the announcer/auctioneer. The fest made a considerable amount of money from items donated from a number of sponsors, including Black Diamond, Petzl, Patagonia, Mountain Hardware, Ice Holdz, Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking, REI, and others. I even auctioned off my vintage 70's climbing sweater!

Sunday were the day-long clinics, including: Intro to Ice Climbing Clinic, Intro to Mixed Climbing Clinic, Intermediate Ice Climbing Clinic. Troy Roades and I taught the Intro to Lead Clinic. We had a great group, including Mark Boydston, Jeremy Pataky, Jake Wilkens, Andy Mamrul, Greg Encelewski, and Kate Yenik. Our group set up on "Split Decision" and did a mock lead, learning the fundamentals of not falling, rope control, route finding, and other skills.
Kate Yenik leads up "Split Decision", mark Boydston belays with Troy Roades instructing.

Sunday night I was totally bushed! Couldn't move an inch the next morning, only to find out I had bronchitis! It was a fantastic weekend anyway.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Recently in the New York Times, “In Tough Times, Humanities Must Justify Their Worth” (Arts pages, Feb. 25), the author Patricia Cohen argued that because of the hard economic times, the humanities are under increasing scrutiny to justify their usefulness. Otherwise, they are the first disciplines to be cut from colleges and universities.

The reality of this hit home. I had almost forgotten that I has spent eight years of my life in '60s at universities studying Near Eastern languages. At the end of my studies, during president Nixon's tenure, we were suffering through difficult times. It was the end of the Viet Nam war, speed limits were reduced to 55 MPH to save gasoline, and the world was crazy. And, I couldn't get a job with a PhD in my field of study. Life turned out fine for me, and I had a wonderful career. But I have often looked back and wondered what it would have been like to work in my field. It looks like a similar era is imminently upon us.

It is a tragedy that value is placed on knowledge solely in economic terms. Perhaps it has always been this way. Or is it only a product of the 20th century? Much of what we suffer in the nation and in the world is not the result of too little economic knowledge, too little science, too little engineering, or too little business. Will we overcome the staggering losses of the wars in the Middle East with more engineers? Will we regain our sullied international reputation with more scientists? Will we regain our economic footing with more economists?

I cringe every time I hear the current phrase "Human Capital", as if people are like money. Perhaps that is what our leaders, civil, government, and industrial, think of us. And I mourn the loss of "Personnel" departments and grimace when I hear "Human Resources" departments, as if we are lumps of coal in a factory. We are dehumanized daily on television, and on the highway when police officers refer to people as "individuals", as in "I stopped this individual for speeding." And to lawbreakers as "perps", as in "We arrested this perp for breaking and entering." Men and women are now "males" and "females". Flowers can be male and female! Even animals have special names: cow, bull, calf, steer, heifer, to appropriately distinuish age and gender. How much more human and dignified to call us by the special names the English language has available for us as people: men, women, boys, and girls.

We should all know how to read a newspaper intelligently and with a critical eye. When the citizenry is educated and schooled in the humanities, it can make critical judgements based on facts; each citizen can form an opinion on his or her own knowledge using the tools we as a civilization have inherited from our forefathers. We would not need to rely solely on the opinions of others. The study of philosophy opens our minds and gives us the ability to question the statements and opinions of others. The study of the scientific method gives us the tools to constantly examine new discoveries and increase the knowledge base of the humankind. Learning history should help us prevent repeating our past mistakes...perhaps. The study of foreign languages should help us enjoy and understand those of other nations. The love of literature and the arts, the crown of civilization, has always been held as that which separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.

The relegation of the humanities to the basements and attics of ivory towered buildings has allowed us to lose sight of the values we should cherish most: our freedoms, our civil rights, and our humanistic view of our fellow citizens. When we lose the collective knowledge of civilization, we are more prone to accept the simplistic rantings of tyrants and demagogues. We are willing to be led by radical fundamentalists, willing to believe the most simplistic answers to very difficult questions. We begin to look upon education as elitist and not desirable. We are willing to murder our fellow man in the most inhumane ways, through terror and torture. We can then believe that war will solve the problems of the world.

We must never forget who we are; not forget where we have come from and what a long journey the rise of civilization has been. And particularly now that the Earth has, as of March 1, 2009, 6,763,611,245 people to support, mostly in very dense clusters, we must learn to get along with each other better than in the past.

Monday, March 2, 2009

My Alaska Grown Girl

She was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, my skinny blond girl with the high-pitched voice. Her mother, the toughest woman ever, so independent and capable, grew out of the 50's and was so much her own person. And so Daphne learned to be her own woman from the start; she never knew there was anything she couldn't do. At six months old, we wrapped her in caribou hides and a down bag, put her in the dogsled and her 5-year old brother on the back of the runners next to me and mushed across the arctic. It was -35 F. at night. She grew up tough but never knew it. By seven she could jump naked in a glacial river and stay longer than the boys. Daphne could out-hike me going uphill. I've never again caught up.

Denali Park was her first home. We built a beautiful log cabin when she was a baby, and this is the house that comes to her mind when the word 'home' is used in our house. We had 30 sled dogs in the yard, and Daphne would go for rides with me at night after work, sometimes thirty miles up the Yanert river in the sled under the moonlight. As a family we criss-crossed Alaska with the dog team, Daphne on the back of one sled, her brother on the other. Into the heart of Denali she went, to the base of Mount McKinley, sleeping in the canvas wall tent at night, feeding the fire, caring for the dogs. In the summer she floated rivers, hiked mountains, camped in the rain, and swam in the Chena sloughs. One day she tried to touch a wild caribou.

When Daphne was eight, we moved to Kotzebue, Alaska, on the northwest Arctic coast, an Inupiat village where Daphne was part of the ten percent minority. She loved school, made friends with everyone, and made it her home. One day she went swimming in the ocean while the sea ice was just 10 feet off shore. I sat on the sand in a down parka. She swam for half an hour screaming with joy at the water. She learned to drive the Lund skiff, steer a snowmachine, shoot a gun and a bow and arrow. Her mom taught her tumbling and gymnastics; we had a huge tumbling mat upstairs. I taught her to climb rocks and mountains; we had a rock climbing wall from the ceiling.

One Christmas we went to Costa Rica. Daphne spotted birds, played in the ocean, caught sailfish, and spied a leopard. One night we were watching a soccer game, and a black beetle as big as a frog flew and landed in her long blond hair. I picked it up and threw it into the air.

Off to Chugiak, where Daphne really grew up. A dilettante, she could do anything well. The violin became her passion, and she gave the piano a valiant effort. Soon she was first violin in the city-wide orchestra. Music had entered her life and took her for a ride she's still on. With me she went rock climbing at Hatcher Pass, and later she became the best ice climber ever, ascending the frozen waterfalls in Valdez, Alaska, every winter. After her brother left for college, she became my main climbing partner.

In the summers we lived on Lake Clark, the 60-mile long blue gash between the jumble of granite peaks like a hundred Teton ranges piled up on the Alaska peninsula. We flew in single-engine aircraft everywhere, as no roads lead to the lake. Daphne had two African geese, Squach and Bea, who followed her everywhere. With no TV and no radio, I read out loud to the kids every day. "Siddhartha" was her favorite. It lead her to read other great books, like "On The Road", and "The Dharma Bums".

In school she studied hard and did well academically. Gregarious and fun, she joined the cross-country ski team; I remember standing by the trail ringing the cowbell to cheer her on as she rounded the corners at zero degrees, snot pouring from her nose, frostbite on her cheek, and steam shooting from her lips. But volleyball became her passion. As a tall willow with great jumpers, she became the center of the varsity team. I never missed a game, screaming at the top of my lungs for her and the team.

On the weekends she and her coterie of friends would head to Hunter Creek for music fairs, or to Hatcher Pass for camping, returning home covered in dirt and smoke. More and more she spent nights away from home with the friends. I missed her on the weekends.

When she was seventeen, she, her brother, I, and some friends climbed 20,320' Mount McKinley in Denali National Park. She was the toughest and strongest member of the team. It was cold, hard, and steep, but Daphne was so tough. On the way to 17,000' camp the wind frostbit her cheek so badly it turned into a giant blister. Her mother made me promise I'd bring her home safely, so she and I with tears in our eyes turned around near 18,000'. We may return some day...she's a very determined woman.

That fall we put Daphne in the little van and drove 4,000 miles down the AlCan highway to college in Durango, Colorado. Fort Lewis was a whole new world and a social set she loved. I lost track of the day-to-day as Daphne blossomed into womanhood and made Colorado her home. She jumped in with both feet, never returning to Alaska. Weekends she climbed mountains, skied, and hit the rock concert circuit from Nebraska to Vegas.

After a few years she wanted a break from school. I was superintendent of Grand Teton National Park, so Daphne came to Jackson Hole with her Pomeranian, 'Sir. Didymus', to live with me. What a treat! But I still looked on her as my little girl, as I probably always will. She had grown and had become her own person, just like her mother likely was at her age. I returned to Alaska, and Daphne stayed to work in Jackson, the perfect hostess at the Cadillac Cafe. One day she took off and followed Pfish on it's last six concerts through New England and ending at Woodstock.

But in spite of the adventure of the Tetons, she wanted to finish college. I don't know if the early Kerouac was the influence, but she decided to go to Naropa University in Boulder. For Christmas that first year she sent me a tape of Allen Ginsberg, the founder of the school. I never was very practical, and I'm sure my father cringed at my choice of a major: Classical Greek. So, I was delighted when she told me, probably with trepidation, that she finally settled on yoga as a major. Her father's girl!

Although we live thousands of miles apart, I visit her often, fix her car, take her to fun restaurants, and do the things that fathers do. I love every second we are together. Last summer we climbed a mountain above Boulder together with her little dogs. This winter she drove to Ouray, Colorado, where I was staying and went ice climbing with me, just like the old days. She can still climb with grace and speed. We invited Annie Whitehouse, one of the women who first climbed Annapurna, to dinner and they became friends. Daphne had worn out my old T-shirt from Annie's expedition: "A WOMAN'S PLACE IS ON TOP", printed on the front.

Last week Daphne called to say she had made me one of her five cell-phone favorites, so we could talk for free. How much better could it get!