Friday, January 30, 2015

Have a Nice Weekend!

I certainly will! Yes I will be working Saturday morning, but compared to the barrage of activity my week has entailed, it's going to be so quiet and peaceful. Quite a things were wrapped up nicely this week, so less remains to be done than I might have imagined at the low points. I always over exaggerate.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

After Everest

What do you do after going to Mt. Everest? I mean besides back to work, home, and the 24 hour running world championships. Learn to fly a helicopter? Skydiving lessons? Maybe buy a sports car? Deep sea wreck diving or cave diving? 

I feel after the decade long build up to Everest, and seeing the people who have summited many times I realize, there really are no limits. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

It is okay to be wrong.

We sure like to play the blame game. It's not our fault, it is that other person, that other group. The reality is usually more of a two way street. Often mistakes have been made on both sides. 

It is okay to be wrong. We all make mistakes. I make a lot of mistakes. And I feel owning up to my own mistakes is the right thing to do. How can I blame someone for something if I had the ability to avoid to problem in the first place and I didn't? It's okay to screw up and waste time, everyone does. If you were perfect, you wouldn't be where you are. We have forgiveness and we often can right the wrongs with a little more time and effort. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Low Stress Job

I would not say I have a low stress job. Not at all. Today I left my apartment at 4:45 AM and had a very full day before leaving the factory at 4:45 PM and getting home around 6 PM. Then I spent 15 minutes writing an email about the big issue of the afternoon and claiming responsibility for the problem and sending it to all the mangers. 

I leave on days like today, and today was probably the worst of the project for me so far, and I fear I will be fired, I feel like I should quit and go work someplace better, or perhaps I should just quit caring about my work as much. Work will take everything you give it. Companies do not have any emotion and are designed for profit. 

Strait up, it's overwhelming. I identified something like five new issues today for parts I am responsible for, and got bitten big time by an issues we as a group, and maybe me in particular, said was acceptable, and turned out to be nowhere near acceptable. I suppose it's like the stock market, you try to learn something from the losses, then shake them off and keep going. I just don't like failure. I really don't like it. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

I Live in Iowa: Week 188

Oof da. What a long week? My totals for the work week are going to be over 60 hours, and honestly I might hit that again this week. Hopefully the worst of it will be over by this week, but certainly 50+ for the next month and maybe two. Hopefully it's all calmed down by March and certainly April, but the truth is, we don't know what we don't know. Plus, related product experience tells us that things that are a big deal happen, which require people like me to work more at problems we just didn't know about before hand.

I woke up at 4:15 AM five time this week, once was Saturday. It will probably be five more times this week, and hopefully not Saturday.

Long term view, it's all minor problems that I'm dealing with at work at the moment. Some of the issues are like, 'seriously, we didn't catch this before now?' Other issues are like, 'it's wrong because it's hard and it will get better, in fact come look at this, it already is better.' Still other issues are like, 'If we don't catch this now, no one would ever know until it caused a problem, and cost a lot more money.' Not to say that it is all no big deal, in fact, the last couple weeks and next few weeks are probably going to be the most stressful of my career thus far, and for the foreseeable future. That's the positive side to this, I have to answer dozens of questions per day now, but in only a few weeks it will be the random few questions a week and working on the next big challenge, instead of hundreds of little ones.

The other cool side to this, no one could do exactly what I am doing at work. Oh I am certainly replaceable, and my colleagues could be brought up to speed quickly, but things go faster because I am there. It's nice to feel important to the project.

Running went well, I ran 46 miles, did my first workout in months, and took a day off. The workout I did was a little track workout with 2200 meter of quality work in 6:30, which is around 4:45 per mile pace. Nothing great, but after maybe 10 to 11 months not doing a workout on a track, it was nice to get after a little faster turnover. Frankly, it didn't even feel that bad. My ankles continue to heal, I think that it's some sort of bruising from the mountaineering boots, ski boots, and ice skating boots that I've worn over the past three weeks and it's just taking longer to heal. I mean, I ran a 12 mile run, a track workout, and then a faster 9 mile run, I'm not exactly injured, although I would still say I'm coming off an injury.

That's it. I went out to eat Saturday night at a hamburger place I didn't even know was a restaurant until I had been here two years. I'm tired.

Friday, January 23, 2015

One More Problem.

The good news, we are finding issues. The bad news, we have issues. It's hard to tell how serious something is sometimes. Most of the issues are problems of milimeters, but it can be like a 3 millimeter rock in your shoe, seems like a big deal. 

Solving problems, even in the short term, even theoretically, is quite satisfying. I mean, when you have a solution, something that can reasonably be implemented, you know it's a fixable problem. You would not believe the issues that escalate to the $1 million or even $10 million level. One in particular for me was so simple, yet as it was above my pay grade and out of my department so no one listened to me. Knowing a problem can be solved is such a nice feeling.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

In My Anger...

...I took a walk. I could complain about a variety of things that upset me today, but it will only serve to harden animosity. Suffice to say at the daily group meeting today I felt defeated. As if errors, things we could have done better, were on me to fix. And I don't have the answers. I don't even feel like some of the questions are valid enough to answer. So I took a walk as soon as I could get out of the meeting... which was ten minutes after the meeting ended because three separate people talked to me individually after the end about issues from the meeting. 

Cooped up in a factory with fumes and terrible air quality, and the downstream effects of thousands of decisions made by dozens of people, I needed some air. 

Walking in the slightly foggy 31 degrees Fahrenheit weather along the parking lot I realized, it's easy to blame someone, it's difficult to fix a problem. And you know what, I'm going to fix problems. Not sure how I'm going to do that besides throw paperwork at people and talk to everyone. But you know what? This project is actually going really well. The quality is actually quite high already. We are making it better every day, and even when it feels like this is the worst piece of junk designed and manufactured by us who couldn't get a proper job, I realize that clearly I exaggerate things and this drama is all to be expected in a project of this scope. My lows can be a little low, but my highs can be a little high too. 

We are doing well. We will get there. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Wow! How great it is to be healthy and running and skiing after an injury! That sudden urge to neglect the little supplemental exercises and extra rest. Ignoring the preventative measures that got you healthy in the first place. It's like having a job after unemployment, it's easy to forget the people skills that got you the job in the first place. 

The point is, don't forget how you reached where you are. It is never as simple as simply doing X. It's more like doing X and Y and knowing A who introduces you to B who is interested in skill Y and Z that you have because person C just left and they are looking for someone with those Y and Z skills. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Year in Review: 2014

Here is a link to my 2013 year in review. That has links to previous years, going all the way back to a 2009 year in review.

Where to start? This becomes a harder post when I have to rehash the follies of the previous year. In other words, it seems to get harder every year.

Everest, Mt. Everest, and the spring 2014 season seemed to define my year. Oh sure, there was quite a bit more to my year than those five weeks, but it's hard to say that what happened there did not change me, or other's perception of me. I'll admit, my experience this spring was a life changing event. Perhaps not as much as people would assume. When the actual incident happened, I heard it, started to see the helicopters, learned it was deadly, but initially, it was thought to be only a third of the size it ended up being. Only later did I learn how bad the serac collapse, the avalanche, really was. Then, after a political week, we left, via the scenic route.

For months, the experience only seemed depressing. My existence this summer was day to day. I just came out and said I was depressed in June. Yet God's plan, and my plan, or any of our plans, were not the same. After all, it was years of success that led me to the "failure" on Everest, and depending on the view, it wasn't a failure at all. So I moved on in life. Certainly something I won't forget, but not something I plan to dwell on. In fact, I finally published the Mera Peak video, basically the world's easiest 21,000 foot mountain.

Fastpacking over four 14ers and more than 50 miles in about a day and a half, was a pretty cool trip. I'm thinking of doing it again, except trying for the whole Nolan's 14.

Meanwhile, this whole time, work was going really well. Whenever I talk about work it's aways in the this vague language, and I hope that I can give some details in the future, but suffice to say, work is going quite well. I made a lot of money this year. My wealth makes me sick sometimes compared to the poverty of so many. Yet I realize that we all have different gifts, and in my mind it is our duty not to waste those gifts.

So as I worked through June and July, getting second in the Run4Troops Marathon in a pedestrian 2:50, I was continuing to train, or rather run a lot. I managed to put up a number of 100+ mile weeks, six I think, with the highest at 131 miles. For the year I think I ended up with around 2800 miles. After such good training, I thought, 'why not run an ultra marathon?' I knew I would get into it sometime, it was just a matter of when. Well, the 24 Hour USA championships were a half day drive away in Ohio, and I figured, if I'm going to do one of these, it might as well be a low key, but maybe semi-competitive thing. In other words, not debuting at Western States or Leadville, or JFK. Well, as you heard, I won, running and walking 154.5 miles. Which I found out only recently lands me on team USA for the 2015 World Championships in Italy. Yep, I'm going to be running on Team USA!

The rest of the fall and early winter was what I might call anticlimactic. I gave up my coaching job at the University of Dubuque because my day job was about to consume far too many hours of my life into the early spring. I started running with some coworkers from the University of Wisconsin Platteville, which has provided a nice change to the college coaching rhythm. Work began to accelerate and I started to make many trips to Davenport to our factory. I managed to give myself an overuse tendon injury just a few weeks before the California International Marathon. It happens.

I'm still single. Perpetually single. As I write this I'm just back from a family friend's house where a like 20 year old is getting married to a 22 year old in the summer. That seems so young to me. If there is some jealously that I battle with, it's seeing so many people happy in relationships. Don't get me wrong, I have the best life in the world. I have every advantage a white male in the middle class from the USA can have, and I've taken advantage of many of those. Yet it's easy to be lonely at night in the hour or two after supper and before going to bed.

I take being single in stride. I donated the first $1000 dollars to Sustainable South Sudan this March. Completely as a cash gift to my friend JL who was about to return to Africa. I still haven't seen any pictures of how the money was spent, and thus not given any more yet. The point being, my money can make a huge difference in Africa, a difference that it simply can't make in the developed world. If being single, even my whole life, another 60 or 70 years, means that I have more money to help the less fortunate, instead of raise my own children or afford a stay at home wife, that's okay. Obviously I would prefer the wife and kids, but God's plan is not always our plan, and that is my comfort in still being single.

I capped of the year with a trip to Colorado and hiking and skiing on 14ers, even getting to the top of Quandary on my 7th winter 14er attempt! In fact, here is the first video of maybe seven or eight that track the entire descent. Basically it was about as hard as a blue square run at a resort in my opinion. For me it was a 4:45 climb and 1:05 descent.

What to look forward to in 2015? A number of ultra marathons including the 24 Hour World Championships. I plan to pay off a number of student loans this year that I put off paying off until I went to Everest, because now I've been to Everest. I need to get cruise control installed on my new 2002 Honda Insight. Small detail, but I'm really looking forward to it. I really hope to be able to share what I have been doing at work the past four years. Unfortunately, based on our website, it's still not published to the public, despite the fact we have been taking orders for more than a month... I don't understand marketing. I hope to run 4000 miles. The most I have ever done in a year is 3600. I'm also thinking of launching my Kickstarter campaign, which I started building just before Everest.

It's going to be a good year. Hopefully not the drama of Mt. Everest 2014, but with plenty of successes and lessons learned about how to do.

Monday, January 19, 2015

I Live in Iowa: Week 187

What a week it was. I spent the whole work week in Davenport, working to help us "smoothly" transition from digital to physical. Smooth is relative, if you look at anything with a fine enough microscope, it will appear jagged. I don't know how many hours I worked, but I'm pretty sure it was over 50, and then I went into the office on Saturday as well. I'm writing this Sunday afternoon and after I get it written, I'm going to open up my work laptop and see if there are any emails I need to respond to. Officially we are on a three day weekend, but the work demands of now, and the next couple weeks are seriously the most urgent of my fledgling career.  We have already had delays, that I am willing to take responsibility for, but they have all been minor, measured in minutes or hours, and I fear the delay that might last a day or longer because I did not settle some issue. Plus, Saturday morning we had a rather significant issue come up.

It's strange, this is go time, this is the month, or two months, I have been fearing for the last year and a half, and it's here. It's real. We will win, there is no other option than success, even if we have to go into overtime, for a third month. Some of the exciting news is, I'm valuable enough that instead of walking, I get the privilege of riding tricycle, and sometimes riding on a Cushman motor scooter. The key is, find the issues as quick as possible, fix them, and then quick fix the next 15 products lined up behind the first one with the original issue. Whew! It's a whirlwind.

Running went great! 48 miles, and I ran every day! None of it was faster than 7 minute mile pace, and much of it was slower than 8 minute mile pace, but the weather cleared up and no new snow or ice, I didn't fall while running. Things are going well.

Only got out cross country skiing once, for about 35 minutes, but I did average over 4 miles per hour, my fastest yet. Most of the snow is about melted so we'll have to wait for more snow before skiing.

I passed 1000 point in learning German with Duolingo this week. After my trip to Germany last year I started learning and I am taking maybe 20-25 minutes a day to learn German. It's not a whole lot, but I am making progress and I am being quite consistent, at least six days out of seven. After spending six years learning Spanish in school I am finding a third language easier to pick up. The idea of masculine and feminine and singular or plural, that in many ways is similar for Spanish as it is for German, and both are quite unlike English.

That's about it.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Dawn Wall Climb

The recent Dawn Wall climb by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgensen has been in all the major news outlets, and I have no idea why. I spent two long and bloody days trying to solo climb the Nose on El Cap about 200 yards to the left of their route back in 2010, pretty much in obscurity. Now the Dawn Wall is really flat, the first few hundred feet look overhanging and there are just no features. We're talking 5.12, 5.13, and some 5.14. Translated that means really hard, extremely hard, and downright 2:11 marathon hard. 

The thing is, these guys have been climbing hard stuff in Yosemite and elsewhere for near on 15 years close to this level. I guess from my perspective, I just don't see what sets this apart from something like Alex Honnolds Northwest Face of Half Dome, or Tommy Caldwell's two routes free climbed in one day, or Chris Sharma's latest hardest route in the world. It's really cool what they did. It's incredible actually. I have the Yosemite Big Wall guidebook at my parents house and there are no free climbing routes on that part of the wall. Yet at the same time how many times do alpinists push the limits and do something first and suffer so much and only receive a paragraph in a magazine or book.

In short, it's really cool what they did, these guys have earned the recognition they are getting from this, they should probably write a book, at least a coffee table book. But for those of you that only hear about this, and the Everest disaster, there is a whole community out there pushing the human limits in inhospital places. It's actually South Pole season,  Frédérick Dion even trekked and kite skied to the pole of inaccessibility this year, which is to say the hardest spot to get to. Plus, Lonie Dupre just summited Denali solo in January, on his fourth try, crazy. there is no cell coverage in those two locations, but there is in Yosemite Valley. So go out there read a Hermann Buhl book, and go play outside!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Team USA!

Well, it's not posted on the USATF website, and won't be for probably a week, but I was offered a position on the USA 2015 24 Hour World Championship team and I accepted. 

As soon as I read the email I responded that yes, I accept the offer. The email was rather specific that we have a week to accept or not. Then I started to think, maybe I should have waited a couple days and played hard to get? I mean that's how the business world and dating world seem to go. Maybe I should have first asked some esoteric questions like how to import pomegranate juice to Italy or will we be able to have eggs for breakfast? Honestly, I was actually wondering those two questions, and many others, although regardless of the answers I will make do. 

This will be my first national team and international team competition. I am really excited! I am going to have a USA jersey, and one given specifically to me, not bought. I hope we get some sort of matching track suit too, it would be great to wear something like that to a D3 college track meet or a local Dubuque race, or just jogging on Grandview. Haha! 

Obviously I have been hoping this would be the outcome. As I watched other 24 hour results the last few months I anxiously waited for the day when the qualifying window closed with my name near the top of the list. That day has past. There are many details still to iron out, for one I need to get in shape. I ran nine miles tonight for the first time since November, thank you ankles and tendons. No idea on the travel schedule. Not much local info from the Italians yet. Not sure what my work schedule will be in April. Totally need to find a wheelchair before the race...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Shared Memory

Shared memory is the concept that in a close group like a marriage or a team at work, different people will remember different things, things that typically come a little easier to each person. As I work during this critical time I notice that our team has already developed shared memory and shared responsibility. Without firm direction we simply broke up the tasks needed to ensure on time parts and a high quality product, and did it. It's really cool. 

I mention this because I have realized that ultimately quality is about people. While one person would really really struggle to maintain high quality and get anything done quickly, a team can each take ownership of a small part and accomplish the goal better than any one person. It is amusing because from the outside looking in it is like M.A.S.H 4077. In one episode a military person comes to learn their secrets of how they are so effective, and all he finds is a group of bumbling misfits with nothing resembling any sort of formal process that can be copied. Certainly, processes can be really good. Yet my point about shared memory is that instead of rigidly defining who does what, it is possible for a team to divide the tasks as they find works beat. I guarantee that most married couples break up the tasks in a way that works for them and finish them despite  not necessarily adhering to gender stereotypes. Sure there can be problems and things can fall through the cracks and some people may do more than others, and inevitably things will turn into a yelling argument about mistakes and inequality. But the ideal of a team having shared memory, and being able to handle more work because of their specializations is a very positive thing. We are better together than we are apart. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Okay to Deviate

1. Most engineers live in fantasy land. At least most engineers I work with, and for the record, this certainly includes myself, and the engineers I work with, although we are learning our way into the real world. 

2. It's amazing that anything works. How in the world I have a 22 year old minivan with 323,000 miles that still runs well I have no idea. The complexity of a machine as simple as a car is astounding. Car doors never fail to amaze me. They open and close so smoothly, the rubber seal never falls off, the metal never interferes. Amazing.

3. What actually works, versus what we originally thought was possible is always interesting. In other words, it's possible to run vehicles without bolts and zip ties or the glue holding everything together. How long on a new vehicle before little trinkets like bolts start to go missing? I have no idea but I am continually surprised how well things like my van continue to run in a state of disrepair. 

Is it okay to deviate? Clearly no, it was designed a certain way for a reason, and clearly yes, missing a bolt on my radiator and spare tire haven't slowed me down the last four years. The exact answer is somewhere in the muddy middle. You can guarantee that no one comes out of the mud pit looking nice, but everyone comes out wiser.

Monday, January 12, 2015

I Live in Iowa: Week 186

This week flew by, and the next few are only going to accelerate. I worked my first official week of overtime in the last maybe year and a half or two years. And considering we are progressing as planned, I won't be putting in any seven hour days in the near future. I always try to stay on the side of saying less than saying more, and I'll try to stay on that line by simply saying we have been working on this project for four years and we are finally getting to the point of shipping! That is to say we are transitioning from testing/designing/developing to full on production. It's a ground up design, which is something marketers use to excite people, but engineers use it to talk about making mistakes and learning why we did things a certain way the last 20 years. In short, ground up design! Run away!

I'm kind of joking. Typically ground up designs start off trying to eliminate problems that plagues previous models. For example, cars used to burn out their brakes in the mountains, now it's only the odd semi truck. The model T was not safe, slow, inefficient, and very basic. Cars have come so far due to ground up designs. Personally I have learned that for me I doubt I will ever order something on the first day or week it is available because I know for a fact that they will learn things producing those first models that you definitely want incorporated on your product. The flip side is the first products will also have more quality checks than any of the following products ever will, so there is that benefit. 

As my role in this transition I am fully invested in being in the factory, on the floor where our products are being manufactured. I'm making decisions that we did not clearly communicate in the drawings and instructions. Overall, I am really learning a lot, and I know for a fact the quality is quite a bit higher because I am there.

Despite a terribly cold week with an average temperature of maybe 5F degrees I managed to run 22 miles over the four days I ran and cross country skied twice for a total of about four hours. Cross country skiing is my new hobby. It is aerobic, low impact, possible to do in bad weather and after buying the equipment, basically free. While my friends downhill skied Saturday at Chestnut near Galena, IL I cross country skied on the sides of the resort, working myself into a sweat in breezy 10F weather wearing only moderate clothing. 

It was a good week. Work is going to occupy a huge amount of my time the next few weeks, so if you read this to hear about running, don't expect much. Although, perhaps Wednesday I will have an announcement...

Friday, January 9, 2015

Are You Sure?

How often is it we eagerly take on a challenge, an opportunity, only to learn how difficult it really is? I am in the middle of this situation now and it's not easy. The answers are not straitforward and I can't figure it all out myself in a timely manner. Which leaves me wondering, why was I willing to take this on in the first place?

The hope is we will figure some things out and the situation will quickly become simply the learning curve, rather than real failure. That is the hope yet the magnitude... It's not a little issue.

Ambiguous I know, but pretty relatable to anytime we feel we have gotten ourselves in over our head.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

I Started a Company and Failed

In 2010 I officially incorporated, okay that's a lie, I filed my sole proprietor papers. About a month later I shut the doors, except the "company" was never big enough to have doors.

It started in October 2008, planning for my summer 2009 expedition to Pakistan. I couldn't find an ice axe I liked and a friend with machine shop experience suggested I just make one in the WPI shop. After some more discussion and brainstorming, it was happening. 

It's a long and boring and most of all painful story to me, so I won't tell it except to say a few things. 

I won a business competition, and $1,500.

I spent close to $3,000 of money I barely had on patents, which were both rejected. Thus I am very soured on patents, and I see them as a function of deep legal pockets more than truly innovative ideas. Except for high development cost things like medical drugs, I'm not really sure how patents encourage innovation. 

I learned a lot about manufacturing constraints. 

I leaned about tooling costs, which ultimately kill any low budget manufacturing startup. 

I learned about market size, percentages, distribution channels, customer expectations, certification, value propositions. 

I learned that for physical products, it's hard, it takes a seemingly long time, and it's expensive. 

I learned it is rewarding, and I want to do it again. But for all of the above reasons it's scary, almost as scary as talking to an attractive young woman. 

This is brought up because entrepreneurship among young people in the US is in the tubes, it's really gone downhill, accelerated by the Great Recession. I also bring this up because as time passes it becomes less painful to discuss. I think of myself as the entrepreneurial type, yet what have I done lately even remotely entrepreneurial?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Está Frío!

In Spanish that means "it is (temporarily) cold." It did not get above zero Fahrenheit here in Dubuque today. I didn't even run, but I'll blame that on the cold I am trying to recover from as much as the outside temperature. 

In Spanish there are two verbs that mean to be: ser and estar. Ser is a more permanent to be, like I am a US citizen, and estar is a more temporary to be, like I am at home. In other words, simply using a different form of be to describe the weather makes it a little more tolerable because it's not permanent. It is a small distinction but in English saying "it is cold" is so negative and permanent. 

I enjoy learning other languages because they show us the differences in how we see the world based on our first language. For example in Spanish there is no evening, they go strait from afternoon to night.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It is No Fun Being Sick

The sore throat I had this weekend and especially Sunday was terrible! I thought I caught Strep Throat or something serious, but somehow it is much better and almost gone. I am sure that part of it was the dry cold from the mountains early last week, and I'm sure I caught some virus driving across Nebraska and Iowa from a handle or door knob. 

For sure, being sick makes us appreciate being healthy so much more! If nothing else, that is a good reminder for how fortunate we usually are.

Monday, January 5, 2015

I Live in Iowa: Week 185

Another year! Sometimes, or perhaps often, I am amazed that I lived this long. I mean, there are so many things in the world that might conspire to make it so that I didn't live to 2015, yet here I am.

I started the week off in Dubuque, went to church, then packed my van and left for Colorado. Part way across Nebraska I realized that I would be able to drive up into the mountains, get three hours of sleep and be able to climb on Monday, instead of spend Monday bumming around the tourist joints. So I did that. I slept three hours in the Evergreen Wal-Mart parking lot, with a dozen other people doing the same. I woke up and started hiking up the east ridge of Quandry Peak. However, just above treeline the wind was pretty terrible and I was getting cold so I turned around.

It was still really early, so I went to a coffee shop in Breckenridge and spent some time on the Internet. Looking for a hotel, I could not find anything under $200 for the night in Summit County! Finally I found a hotel in Fairply for $80. It was on the other side of Hoosier Pass, and seemingly far away, but it turns out that Lincoln, Democrat, and Bross, all 14,000 foot peaks, were accessed from that side of the pass.

So Tuesday I tried to do Democrat. I wore my Olympus Mons boots because the temperatures was supposed to be below zero and cloudy, but it ended up being warmer and sunny. Then, I planned to drive to the winter trailhead, but I was about .8 miles short when my van could no longer make it up the hill. So I made a painful 11 point turn and parked going downhill, so that I wouldn't get stuck when I left in the afternoon. That hike was so tiring in my 8000 meter boots! I made it around 4.5 miles from parking my car up to about 13,200 feet or more, but the snow conditions didn't look the best, so I turned around. The weather was nice, but in the winter much more conspires to make a simple hike difficult. The distances are farther, the trail is always obscured, the weather is worse, and you are alone. Being more than a mile, maybe two miles, from anyone else, in the cold and wind is hard. In part for the simple fact that there is no one else to help break trail.

The Asian Fusion restaurant beside the Riverside Hotel that I stayed at was great! I was totally not expecting to find green curry that good up in a town with less than 1000 people. Fairplay has quickly become a place I would be interested in visiting again. Not very commercial, up in the mountains, it has a good coffee shop, The Java Moose. Plus, it's up in the mountains which is kind of the point of going to the mountains.

Wednesday, I hiked the east ridge of Quandry then I skied down it, as I already blogged about. It was awesome!

That night I went down to Denver and had an unusual experience for New Year's involving Cards Against Humanity at my friends friends neighbors house. Yes I meant that.

We bummed around town New Year's Day, tried fixing my front winsheild, only to find out after splicing wires that it was a missing fuse. After another night out eating Mexican, really good Mexican, I woke up bright and early and drove home Friday.

Then I proceeded to get sick Saturday... figures. Just a cold, but never fun. Overall, really really good week.

Friday, January 2, 2015

I Climbed and Skied a 14er in Winter!

Near the Top of Quandry
It took me a little under five hours to climb the thing and then just over an hour to ski down. I had my GPS running the whole way up and my GoPro running the whole way down. I haven't had a chance to look through them all yet, but I did watch the first 15 minutes of the descent video and, wow, it looks way more interesting on video than it did when I was doing it! Of course in the moment I was only thinking about skiing the next turn.
A Few Minutes Farther Down
No guarantee when, if ever, I get the whole video or part of it uploaded. As you can see from a couple screen shots the video quality was really nice! Look at that blue sky!

Overall it was very achievable. The climbing what the draining part, five hours of hiking uphill with my skis and ski boots on my back was tiring, it was cold and windy, maybe 0°F to 10°F with winds of 20 to 40 mph. Similarly the skiing was on windy blown hard packed dry snow, which was not fun in the strictest sense. It was not terrible steep to keep to the ridge, I would say it was about a blue square difficulty. The big skiing challenge being terrible snow conditions (I hit rocks, landed in a tree well, and skated over plenty of snow) and the high altitude which makes me tired after only a couple turns. However, to set out to climb a big hill, and do it, then ski down it, and do that too, well, for me the value of that day was much greater than what I would have gained from a $150 lift ticket for one day of resort skiing.

I'm driving back to Dubuque today, from Denver. After three mountain attempts and one huge success I'm satisfied for this trip. 2015 is going to be a long and busy year, and I'm ready for it!