By Steve Hubrecht

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A Columbia Valley resident starring in the History Channel’s popular survival reality show ‘Alone’ is — from a viewers perspective — currently more a month into the latest season of the show and doing well.

David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) outdoor education teacher Alan Tenta participated in the filming for the tenth season of ‘Alone’ last fall and, of course, is now safely back home in the valley. But he’s bound to secrecy about what happened, leaving eager local viewers no choice but to tune into the hit show each week to watch Tenta and nine other contestants battle against the elements of northern Saskatchewan, each alone and trying to survive as long as possible.

Each season of ‘Alone’ features 10 people. They are dropped off, each by themselves, in a remote wilderness location and can bring just 10 items with them aside from the clothes they are wearing. The contestants then film themselves trying to survive, alone, for as long as possible. They have no contact with each other or with any other humans aside from occasional medical checkups. Participants can choose to ‘tap out’ (i.e. voluntarily leave) at any time, or they can be “pulled out” for failing a medical checkup. The longest-lasting contestant wins $500,000.

When the Pioneer spoke with Tenta early last week the tenth season of ‘Alone’ was already seven episodes in, and had showed contestants during the first 35 days of the challenge. Most, including Tenta, had spent the bulk of their time constructing shelters and then trying to catch and cache as much food as possible. 

Tenta was at that point, by his own telling and in the opinions of several local residents who follow the show, doing quite well. Some other contestants were also doing well; but others were not, and five had already dropped out. That meant only five of the original 10 survivalists were left.

Of course Tenta was completely isolated and no idea he was among the top five, although he told the Pioneer he was certainly curious as to the fate of his fellow competitors. 

“I had thoughts almost every day, wondering how everybody else was doing, and how I was doing comparatively,” said Tenta. “But for sure I was happy with my performance up to that point.”

His biggest physical challenge was simply procuring enough to eat. In the early episodes of the show, most contestants focused primarily on building their shelters.                   Continued on page 9

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Then, as fall deepens with a hint of winter approaching, their attentions shift to trying not just to get enough food to survive, but also trying to stockpile it for the future.

Tenta was catching a steady supply of fish, and was smoking some to preserve it.

“You are always hungry. You are eating, of course, but only enough to keep you from starving. You need to store as much as you can,” he told the Pioneer.

Although it did not make the final editing cut (and was therefore not seen by viewers) Tenta had had some luck with small game — squirrels, grouse and even snaring a marten. 

Aside from smoking fish, Tenta had completely winterized his shelter and was starting to gather stores of wood.

“I was feeling quite strong and positive mentally. There were times each day I would really miss my family, but they usually passed quickly. I had prepared for that ahead of time and was trying to just embrace those moments (of missing family) because I knew they wouldn’t last long and that they would pass,” he said. “You are constantly moving around doing daily tasks and that’s a good thing. An important part of keeping mentally healthy is to stay busy.”

In episode six Tenta dropped his spool into some very cold water and had to retrieve it. 

“It actually wasn’t that big of a deal. I was able to sort of lay down in the water and get it with my foot. It was cold, but I wasn’t too worried. I did need the spool to catch fish, but I did have a fish on the line on the shore, so I was fairly sure I could retrieve it somehow,” he said. “But it did make me more careful with the spool in the future.”

Tenta was not actively pursuing big game such as a moose or bear, since doing so would have expended too many calories. But he saw fresh moose tracks and knew bears were in the area, so he was always prepared for a chance encounter.

The 10 items Tenta chose to bring with him on the show were: an axe, saw, ferro rod, fishing line and hooks, bow and arrow, sleeping bag, cooking pot, paracord, snare wire and a multi tool. Tenta was happy with all his choices, saying “I would take the same items if I went again. I didn’t have any regrets. I utilized everything I brought.”

‘Alone’ episodes airs Thursdays on the History Channel at 8 p.m. 

The filming took place last year, but the show is only now set to air this coming summer. Valley viewers who love the outdoors, who were once taught at DTSS by Tenta, or who are just plain curious to see a local fellow test his mettle in the wilds can tune in to the season 10.

Past seasons have seen participants last anywhere from six hours to 100 days in locations ranging from Patagonia to Vancouver Island, the Arctic, northeastern Labrador and northern Mongolia.