Steamboat man’s survival tale to be featured on Discovery Channel show |

Steamboat man’s survival tale to be featured on Discovery Channel show

Michael Schrantz
Charles Horton is loaded into an ambulance after being rescued from an area near Chapman Reservoir in rural northeast Rio Blanco County in 2005. A TV show about his experience is scheduled to air Monday.
Courtesy Photo

Watch it

What: "Bear Grylls: Escape from Hell"

When: 11 p.m. Monday

Channel: Discovery Channel

— No, Charles Horton was not worried about wild animals during the nine days he survived injured and stranded in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area.

The 2005 cross-country ski trip that was supposed to last one day turned into eight nights of struggling for his life, but animals were not what occupied Horton’s thoughts.

That’s inevitably the first question he said he receives when talking about his experience.

The real test was mental: keeping calm and focused during the extended wait for rescue.

A new Discovery Channel show that interviewed Horton in London this spring immediately understood that challenge, he said.

On Monday night, Horton will be featured on “Bear Grylls: Escape from Hell,” which is making its premiere in front of American viewers.

The production company in charge of the show called Horton in late March, he said, and two weeks later, he was on a plane to London to tell his story.

Horton recently received an email from his main contact with the show that stated it did well overseas and would be airing in the U.S.

The story has been told many times, and this isn’t the first TV show of which Horton has been a part, but he said he really liked the approach of this show.

“The story, to me, is my feelings,” Horton said. “It’s much more mentally how I dealt with it and not wrestling lions, coyotes and bears. Oh my!”

Groups he has talked with in the past were looking for a big adventure story about how nature was out to get him, Horton said, and that wasn’t the case for him.

He said he was pleased with how the producers of this show listened and tried to bring out his mental attitude during the ordeal.

Telling the story still brings insight eight years later, Horton said.

There certainly was trauma in the incident — Horton lost 30 to 35 pounds and experienced frostbite and hypothermia — but it never has been a traumatic story to tell.

“It was such an amazing experience for me,” he said. “Things I recognized and learned from it I’ve spent the past eight years trying to put into words.”

Horton has been writing about the experience since he came out of the hospital, he said.

Catching the flashes of insight that seemed so clear then and translating them to words has been an ongoing process.

Horton said he’s been amazed at how his story has touched people.

“I’ve just had amazing feedback from the community and friends and family,” he said. “People seem to find something for themselves in the story.”

People learn from shared stories, he said, and that’s something that can sometimes be lacking in our culture.

“My nine-day survival story is just a piece of a survival story we’re all in.”

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz

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