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Fort Collins local and self-defense instructor participates in a “once in a lifetime” experience on History Channel’s “Alone”

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I am one in about sixty people on this earth that have experienced this. That is the greatest honor I could possibly have: to participate in something so unique and extreme… It’s like running the fastest marathon or being the first man on the moon: no one else is going to ever do it.”

Colorado's own Barry Karcher will be featured on Season 6 of History Channel's

Colorado's own Barry Karcher will be featured on Season 6 of History Channel's "Alone", airing on June 6, 2019.

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Fort Collins local and a familiar face to the self-defense class here at Mead was able to participate in a “once in a lifetime” opportunity. Barry Karcher—a local father and mentor—participated in Season 6 of History Channel’s survival show “Alone.” The season takes place in the far northwest territories of Canada around the Great Slave Lake. Ten contestants compete to be the last man standing for a grand prize of $500,000.

In order to prepare for this experience, Karcher had to “[learn] how to exist and deal with extreme cold.” Temperatures had the potential to drop to -60℉ or -70℉, so Karcher had to prepare himself to experience extreme colds, unlike anything he’d ever dealt with before. “Everything slows down out there when it’s that freezing,” he commented.

He also had to brush up on his cold weather preparation skills such as layering up clothes, building fires in extremely cold weather, and “[setting his] mind against the external forces” working against him.

“I was going to be met with things I hadn’t had to deal with like being isolated and alone and I had to prepare for that,” Karcher said.

Participants must be prepared to stay in their environment for a year. Karcher was prepared to stay out “until [his] wife came and got [him], or until the year was up.”

Once he found out he was on the show, he also started to immediately put on weight to increase his fat stores. “I stopped doing cardio, I stopped lifting weights… I had to increase my fat stores. Food was going to be scarce out there and that extra weight was going to be helpful.”

However, one challenge of leaving to compete was leaving his family. “We had a two-and-a-half-year-old boy and a two-month girl when I left,” he said. “I was preparing for the biggest challenge of my life while preparing to leave my family.”

However, he had their undying support throughout the whole process. “I remember when I wanted to apply for the show. I was sitting on my couch with my wife watching the show and I saw an ad on the TV like, ‘Do you want to be on “Alone?” Do this, this, and this.’ Well I got out my phone and I started going through things and my wife looked at me and asked, ‘What are you doing?’ Well, I told her I was going to apply. And my wife looks at me, and—I remember this so clearly—she looks at me and goes, ‘If you’re going apply for this, I’m going to start preparing now because I know you’re going to get on.’ She believed in me from day one.”

“My family has come to expect these things from me so I had a lot of support from them.”

Karcher then proceeded to apply every Monday for six weeks before the History Channel started to get back to him. After participating in interviews and questioning, he got the “okay” to proceed to a boot camp for the finalist applicants, one in which less than a hundred of the total applicants were cleared to attend. It wasn’t long after until Karcher got the fated call.

“I was standing in the middle of Home Depot when I got the call from the History Channel and I just wanted to hoot and holler like I won the lottery. I couldn’t though because I was in the middle of Home Depot.”

From there, he began to prepare and take big steps to begin his journey. Participants of “Alone,” in addition to mandatory and non-negotiable items such as a knit hat and scarf, were allowed to select ten items from a list to take out with them. Karcher, in order to prepare for the challenges he was about to face and utilize his skill set, selected a knife, a saw, paracord, trapping wire, a sleeping bag, a Ferro rod (which is used to create sparks), a pot, a tarp, a bow and arrows, and a fishing line with hooks.

“Out there I had to catch my own food and shelter and so I had to choose items that would be useful and last a long time. I was going to be met with things I hadn’t had to deal with like being isolated and alone so I had to be prepared.”

Karcher aides Mrs. Abby Hicks in teaching self-defense. Coming in for one or two class periods a semester if he is able, he helps teach students ground defense. Karcher has an impressive history in martial arts. He grew up traveling and moving, making participating in regular sports difficult. However, his skills in martial arts were transferable to every dojo or gym. He started out young in Taekwondo, before moving on to a type of karate called Chitō-ryū. Following Chitō-ryū, he did boxing for three or four years before “[falling] in love with the efficiency, community, and self-defense aspects of Krav Maga.”

“It’s useful for all ages, from little kids to the elderly and it’s just really good for defending yourself.”

He did Krav for four years before discovering and “[falling] in love with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu,” a type of ground defense. “It rounded out my self-defense. I was pretty good in a fight on my feet, but once I hit the ground I was done for. Jiu-Jitsu helped me bring my training to a full circle.”

With his impressive background, Karcher now helps teach students how to defend themselves; he wants to make sure his lessons stick and are useful. He encourages his students to be “Vikings” rather than “victims” and be confident in their abilities to get home safely.

“A lot of self-defense programs focus on techniques, but you’re not really training the Viking side of your mind where you decide you’re a Viking, not a victim. You’ve gotta make sure that being a Viking is a reality.”

Karcher most certainly is a Viking and is hellbent on his survival in the world. “Survival does not begin and end for me at the treeline,” he said. “It leaks into every aspect of my life. You can train your body all day, but if you’re not mentally prepared, all you’ve been doing is getting in shape.”

Karcher said that his Viking mentality helped him tremendously in his time alone. “I went through a lot out there and it was very hard. I needed to be prepared mentally if I was going to survive.”

Coming home for Karcher was very “bittersweet.”

“You’re going from one extreme, being totally alone, to the next: being home with the radios, the television, the people, all the noise… It’s very overwhelming. But [being home] was exactly where I wanted to be—where I needed to be. Coming back was the best thing.”

Karcher is very grateful to the History Channel for giving him this opportunity. “The History Channel took amazing care of us during the whole thing. They were especially nice during the aftercare. They treated us like rockstars.”

Karcher said that he was very “honored” to participate in this. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I am one in about sixty people on this earth that have experienced this. That is the greatest honor I could possibly have: to participate in something so unique and extreme… It’s like running the fastest marathon or being the first man on the moon: no one else is going to ever do it.”

Karcher says that, given the opportunity, “I would do it again in a heartbeat. I’d be packed before the phone call was over.”

Tune in on June 6, 2019, to see Barry Karcher and nine other contestants take on the Arctic on History Channel’s “Alone.” You can find him on Facebook here.

About the Writer
Shelby Lewis, Copy and Design Editor

Shelby is a junior and the current Copy and Design Editor at The Mav. She enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with her friends and family.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Fort Collins local and self-defense instructor participates in a “once in a lifetime” experience on History Channel’s “Alone””

  1. Rachel Long on May 16th, 2019 8:28 am

    This is a really well written article, Shelby! It really makes me want to watch the show to find out how he’ll do. Great interview and reporting.

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Fort Collins local and self-defense instructor participates in a “once in a lifetime” experience on History Channel’s “Alone”