Feb 082012
Authors: Jason Pohl

Pinned down in his tent for 36 hours with 100-mph winds blowing snow around him, Glen Gantz not only questioned his sanity on his once-in-a-lifetime solo trip to the Arctic – he questioned his survival.

Gantz, an avid outdoorsman and river-runner, will discuss his Arctic adventure and near death experience Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Student Recreation Center Meeting Room-B as part of an environmental speaker series being put on by the Outdoor Program.

No registration is required, but seating is available on a first-come basis.

“People can expect a captivating and educational story about adventure, challenge, survival, growth and the future of our fragile ecosystems,” said Eric DeLuca, Outdoor Program Coordinator at CSU.

Gantz first conjured up the idea of riding the Firth River in northern Canada with a group of friends about 12 years ago. But, after having plans fall through with the group, he decided to embark on the trip solo. This meant a lonely 3,000-mile-drive and nerve-racking bush-plane flight into an isolated area near Ivvavik National Park.

“When that plane left, I definitely had this feeling of ‘Wow, I am here, I am on my own. I can’t count on anyone else but myself,’” he said.

Gantz’s two-week river adventure tested his limits on all grounds including planning and coping with the harsh elements, and it wasn’t until the final days when a “hundred-year-storm” moved in, trapping him and changed the way he would remember the trip forever.

Once it cleared, he was able to make it to the pick-up location before being stopped again by rapidly worsening weather and a second wave of the storm.

Only this time, all of his gear was soaked with heavy wet snow, even though it was still August. He later used his satellite phone to call the nearby park service to alert them of the worsening and frigid situation he was facing.

“Twenty-four hours from that point, I was probably not going to be in very good of shape,” he said.
Taking month-long trips like this is something Gantz said is tough on family, but his experiences have inspired his daughter, Acadia, a sophomore women’s studies major at CSU, to become a trip leader and get people outdoors safely.

“I remember him talking to my mom and saying he needed a plane –– that he was cold,” she said, referring to her dad’s experience when she was younger. She said this and other travel tales led her to become a trip leader with the Outdoor Program, leading backpacking, climbing and skiing adventures into the Colorado backcountry.

Her dad doesn’t want to take credit, though. Gantz said he did nothing special in that situation, and trips like the one that nearly ended his life could truly be done by anyone.

“I’m just an average person who was really into the outdoors,” he said, stressing that big trips can really be done by anyone.

Regarding making it through the storm of a century, he simply said, “Stuff happens, and you can survive it.”

The Impact of a Changing Climate

In addition to Gantz’s experience, there will be a discussion of how climate change is altering some of the world’s most primitive locations, including the icy north, at a faster rate than in our own backyard.

“The climate is changing in the Arctic faster than it is anywhere on Earth,” said Scott Denning, an atmospheric scientist with CSU. He said numerous factors, including darker surface areas and changing landscapes, can be cited for the rapidly increasing temperatures in the far north.

“This is an objective fact,” Denning said.

He said experiences like the ones felt by Gantz effectively “dramatize something that is otherwise academic,” which really nails a point home that many often find intangible.

DeLuca reinforced this and stressed that the key function of the Outdoor Program is to get people educated and involved with their environment. He explained that, though many people will never visit the Arctic, it still provides key perspective about how delicate our ecosystems are.

“As outdoor recreationalists, we are inherently dependent on continued access to natural resources,” DeLuca said. “It is our responsibility to understand how our actions at home might affect our access around the world.”

Senior Reporter Jason Pohl can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Who: Glen Gantz
What: Discuss river running in the Arctic and surviving storm of a century
When: Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m.
Where: Rec Center Meeting Room B
Why: Outdoor Program Education series

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