Highlining on Madonna

Highlining on Madonna

Gabe, Dan, Dakota, and I trekked up Madonna at 6 in the morning to make it to the top for the 7am sunrise. From the top, we hiked East, more or less through a bunch of poison oak, to the Madonna Highlining spot. At this location, there are climbing bolts in place for 50 and 80 foot lines roughly 40 and 50 feet above the foliage below. We set up the 50 foot line and went at it.

All of us had walked 50+ foot lines before, but this line was a whole other story. Even though the dynamics of the line itself are no different than any other 50 foot line, the mental game is what gets you. You cannot simply step off the line onto solid ground whenever you please; instead, you will fall off the line completely. You have the option of grabbing the line as you fall, jumping into the fall and going into a swing, or flailing through space until the harness catches you. Every option is scary and every option leaves you with the strenuous task of getting back up on the line from below.

I managed to get comfortable and calm my shaking legs down enough to attempt standing up a few times. On my last try, I stood up, gained my balance for 5-10 seconds, and attempted to take a step. I lifted my rear foot off the line, moved it forward, but then lost some balance and decided to bring my foot back to the rear again and place it back on the line. However, the metal ring attaching my harness to the line had shimmied its way up behind me and instead of placing my foot back on the line, I stepped on the ring, which slipped out quickly and caused me to fall off.

Because the fall was so unexpected, I did some sort of twist or flip in the air and ended up hanging by the harness completely upside down, looking at the poison oak and boulders below. AYY! I also managed to cut my hand a little on the line on my way down and decided that would be my last try for the day. I definitely want to go back again soon and try again with the confidence and experience gained from this first time.

San Luis from Madonna – pre-dawn.

The first glimpse of the sun rising over the eastern hills.

Setting up the line with the sun rising, lighting up Bishop Peak in the background

Dan, the expert slackliner, doing a jump on the line!

Dakota taking her first steps

And falling…

Gabe, preparing to stand up for the first time.

Gabe’s first time standing on a highline!

Didn’t last too long…


Gabe, jumping into the fall.

Preparing to stand for the first time…

Look at that!

Look at the ring!!! Sneaking up on me! AHHH

Womp womp.

What Are We Doing?

In the talks of developing Propelem, the team has realized that one day we will have quite a bit of data (pun intended) about the users of our platform. What is exciting about our data? It is new and unique; our data is about engagement, something not being gathered or processed in a widespread fashion on the Internet today. We will know what actions people are doing and the reward that was required to propel them to engage – why they did it. On top of the what and why, we will know when, where and how much it cost to make that engagement happen.

Google knows what people are searching for.
Amazon knows what people are buying.
Facebook knows what people are talking about.
Propelem knows what people are doing.

LeanModel Competition at SDSU

Aaron Rowley , Joseph White , and I trekked down to SDSU this weekend to pitch our latest startup, Propelem, at the LeanModel competition. On the first day, we expected to attend the tradeshow style event, shmooze about Propelem, meet the event organizers, and then leave. However, when 4:10 rolled around and they surprised us with a “you’re giving three 2-minute pitches to investors at 4:30”, things started to get hectic. Aaron and I ran outside to start brainstorming the elevator pitch while Joe finished setting up our booth. By 4:30, we had prepared a pretty good pitch for the 2 minutes, but then got hit with another blow: “You’re going to look like an idiot if you don’t leave about half your time for Q&A.” So in the 30 seconds or so before the first pitch, we scrapped half of the lines and rolled with it. YOLO, right?

We walked up to the table, the investor came up, and Aaron began the pitch. Within 10 seconds, five or so other investors swarmed the table in what we felt was an act just to intimidate and distract us. They stood so close to me I could feel one’s breath on my neck! Ahhh! But the pitch went over well and before we knew it, we were in the hall again preparing for round two. We were able to write down all of the questions asked of us in the three rounds and overall, it was a really stressful, but helpful activity.

Oct 2014: Never finished writing this, but whatever – I’ll publish it anyways 🙂