Sunday, September 29, 2019

Colorado Startup Life: Weeks 52 to 55

Whew, September 1st to 28th. I meant to blog a lot more this month, I even took a full week vacation, but I do this for free and I kind of have to be in the mood to sit there and write and edit it. In short the highlight of the month was watching the first 19 episodes of Designated Survivor with my uncle look alike Kiefer Sutherland. Just kidding. But it is a fun little tv series.

The first week in September was a bit stressful because we made a major change (15% of the product parts) to our product and we made the hardware change before we documented it in our CAD system or in our production system. It was stressful standing there in a group of the people who needed to build one of our products, and as the configuration engineer, not knowing the configuration that was in testing and needed to be built. Fortunately we kept working at it, I worked that Saturday and we managed to build the product.

The second week in September we tested the product. (I kind of enjoy generalizing what I work on so much that I just call it a product, and not the thing it actually is or even the industry I am in.) The testing went very well and then Thursday the 12th, for the first time in the year I have been here, we shipped our product to a customer! We stayed at work until 7:30 pm wrapping up documentation that we wanted to have before we shipped it. Not super late by any means, but the group of maybe seven people who were milling around, there was an energy and a seriousness. It was exciting in a slightly stressful sort of way.

Friday the 13th was an emotional hangover. We put so much effort into getting this thing out there, and it was the first time we have shipped in a long time, by far the most capable product we have ever shipped (and only second in the company's history). I was worn out, emotionally, by the the last two months of senior employee drama, the push to qualify and ship a product, the reorganization, training new people, and last minute design changes. So I took a week of vacation. I knew that once we shipped our product, there would be a good time to get out of the office, and I planned my vacation around our shipping schedule. I'll give a day by day rundown.

Saturday the 14th: rock climbing at white mountain cliff just a mile or two from Silerthorne right off I-70 then some bicycling near Independence Pass.

Sunday the 15th: Kit Carson and Challenger Peak, 15.2 miles, 7,000 feet of elevation gain and loss, 8.6 hours. The cairns on Kit Carson could be a little better, but it was in general a not so hard 3rd class 14er.

Monday the 16th:  Uncompaghre and Wetterhorn, 18.6 miles, 7,400 feet of elevation gain and loss, 8.3 hours. Uncompaghre looks big and intimidating, but you could probably run 95% of it. Wetterhorn has some pretty cool 3rd class the last 200 vertical feet, quite exposed actually. I was up there around 1 PM, and alone. It was beautiful weather, but not a place you would want to be if there was rain or hail.
Summit of Wetterhorn looking at Uncompaghre 9-16-2019
Tuesday the 17th: Handies Peak, and I need to post a video of this. I borrowed my friend's 2006 lifted Sequoia with 32 inch wheels and drove the rough 24 miles up Engineer Pass and slept at the 11,600 foot trailhead on the sweet bed she built for her Toyota Sequoia. It was cold! In the middle of the night it started raining, with a little hail, and then snowing up above 12,000 feet. When I woke up I took a weather forecast from my inReach that said the weather would clear later in the day and decided to wait a couple hours before starting. So I went to start the car to warm everything up and it would not start!

After five start attempts I opened the hood in the 35 degree rain to see if I had damaged anything, nothing found. There were no indications of leaking oil or gas underneath. Everything looked good. The battery and alternator sounded good, like they had plenty of life in them. So I kept just turning the key to get it to start. On about the 10th try, after 15 minutes of mild panic that I would have to get a tow truck out here 24 miles down a very rough all wheel drive road, it started! Way back in high school a mechanic friend of mine, on a trip to Colorado, told me that in the first minute of an engine running the fuel injection system will use the air pressure to determine the fuel air mixture ratio. So at the time he recommended stopping half way up a big pass and just shutting the car off, and then starting it again to adjust for the lower air pressure. As part of that, the theory goes, the car will use the last start's air pressure as the baseline to start the engine. So, being up at 11,600 feet maybe I just had flooded the engine with a rich mixture and it took some turning over to get the correct mixture, and then in that first minute adjusting to the air pressure conditions. I have no idea if that is actually how the fuel injection control system works, but if it is, that makes perfect sense why I would have trouble starting it at that high of an altitude.

Then at 10:30 I went and hiked Handies, 5.4 miles, 2,500 vertical feet, 2.5 hours round trip. It was snowing as I went up, and the winds on top were gusting to 40 miles per hour. It was pretty rough. I had the clothing to handle it just fine, but it was cold! I really need to post the summit video on youtube. It was a total shift from the sunshine the day before.

Wednesday the 18th: Castleton and Connundrum (which is not a "real" mountain but a bump on a ridge), 7.3 miles, 3,500 vertical feet, 4.3 hours. This was a pleasant hike after a little four wheel driving up a steep road. Descending there was a little loose rock and some snow, but overall a very pleasant hike.

Thursday the 19th: Capitol Peak... 17 miles, 5,300 vertical feet, 8.2 hours, and no summit. I made it up to "K2" at 13,600 feet and looked at the ridge, and you can see a picture of it below. I had not seen a single person in 4.5 hours and even though it was a very nice day, attempting to solo that ridge very alone, if anything happened there would be no one else to press my inReach SOS button. It was risk I wasn't willing to take, so I went down. Kind of disappointing, I was way up here in March 2017 and turned around that time too in beautiful weather at 2:30 PM. Capitol will require a third attempt from me.
Capitol from "K2" 9-17-2019
Friday the 20th: I finally took a day "off". Watched Designated Survivor, bicycled up to the Maroon Lakes, read some. Sat on my hosts deck and drank wine.
Life is good.
Saturday the 21st: Maroon Peak, 12.6 miles, 5,500 vertical feet, 7.9 hours, and a pure delight! I did no attempt the traverse to North Maroon because no one else appeared to be doing it when I was on top and it looked a bit scary to solo. However, the standard route on Maroon Peak was a lot of fun, better rock that I was expecting, and had lot of cairns to follow. I would gladly do it again, and in fact it might be not so hard in winter actually because I think it's too steep to hold deep snow.
Top of Maroon Peak looking at Pyramid Peak and Maroon Lake on the far left.
Sunday the 22nd: Snowmass Mountain, 12.3 miles, 4,300 vertical feet, and 6 hours, and again no summit. Once again I didn't see a single person for 3.5 hours, got off the trail for a solid 45 minutes and when I got to the "class 3" part at 12,600 feet I did what might have been 5.0 with some loose rock and decided that was too much to do alone, so I turned around and went down. There are old climbers and bold climbers but not old bold climbers. I made the decision a long time ago I was going to be an old climber. Every time I read about an "experienced" climber dying or getting seriously injured on a 14er or in the mountains, I am very aware I don't want that to be me. If it happens, it happens, I know it's a risk, but I take steps to mitigate it so that on that day when I am involved in an accident and need a rescue, hopefully I am one helping to extricate the injured person and not the one on the stretcher.
Snowmass Mountain, I turned around just above to the left of the small green patch in the center of the photo on the major cliff band 3/4 of the way up the photo.
Finally returning to work last week, it was really good. I won't lie, with all of the work drama the past few months I debated with myself on vacation if I wanted to stay in this startup and vest more options or try to go back to a big corporation. It wasn't a terribly long discussion in my head, yes I want to be doing what I am doing. However it was good to again choose the chaos and stress of more responsibility than I would have in a larger company. We're doing something unique and hard and with a fairly small team. It's a cool opportunity!

Saturday the 28th I hiked Mt. Sneffels, 13.2 miles, 5,400 vertical feet, 8 hours with three friends including J who used that mountain as his finishing mountain for climbing all the 100 highest mountains in Colorado and the 14ers. It was a very good day! I'm up to 41 official Colorado 14ers and only 12 official ones left to go.

Finally I get asked about my dating life, well, it's not what I would like, it would be great to skip to the committed relationship stage, and not have to go on a bunch of dates and text and get essentially nowhere, but I am meeting new women, and honestly, there are a lot of great women out there! The vast majority of the women I have dated this year are awesome and they are going to be just fine, but let's face it, I'm not normal and I'm not looking for normal, so it's not a fast or easy process. I am confident, as a Christian, that God has a plan for my life and whatever that plan is it is better than my own desires, even, or especially, when I don't understand why I'm 33 and very single. Funny story, I thought coming out to Colorado that there would be more active women I would mesh with and be able to go hiking and climbing with, but I still seem to intimidate many women with the things I have done and do.

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