TV producers drawn to Horton's tale of survival

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An injured backcountry skier's nine-day tale of survival in the wilderness is being remade for television.

A National Geographic film crew will arrive this week to produce a dramatic re-enactment of the ordeal suffered in April by Charles Horton of Steamboat Springs.

Horton spent nine days alone in the snowy woods on the edge of the Flat Tops with a badly broken leg. He sucked on snow and ice for water, conserved food and slept during the relatively warm days. He was found April 25 by Routt County Search and Rescue.

The segment about Horton's story of survival is planned for an episode of the popular cable TV show "National Geographic Explorer," hosted by Lisa Ling.

Horton, who had just returned from his fifth return trip to the actual site of his ordeal, said Monday that he's looking forward to taking part in the TV show. The producers have told him they will also speak to in medical experts to explore how he was able to survive.

Horton was suffering from dehydration and hypothermia in addition to the injury that prevented him from walking three miles to his parked truck.

Horton was injured while on a solo cross-country ski outing.

"When I was brought in to the hospital, my core temperature was 88 degrees," Horton said. "I should have been comatose, but I was talking to the rescuers. Hopefully this will inspire (scientists) to do new research on hypothermia."

Horton will receive a modest three-figure fee as a consultant to the production, but it isn't a sum that will help him pay his medical bills, he said.

The working title for the Geographic Explorer episode is "Mysteries of Survival," said Riley Polumbus, communications director for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.

Horton will be interviewed for the show, but an actor will play his part in the dramatization, which will be filmed on Buffalo Pass because of the availability of snow.

Polumbus said a three-person crew, including a cameraperson, producer and production assistant, will work on the shoot.

Polumbus has served as a liaison between the Geographic crew and the Medicine Bow Routt National Forest on permitting.

Greg Hughey, a Search and Rescue member, is in the business of assisting and working with film and video production crews, Polumbus said. He has a visual on what the Horton rescue scene should look like to be authentic and will work on the production on Buffalo Pass.

Search and Rescue member Russ Sanford confirmed the organization will assist the crew from national Geographic.

"We're going to try to make it look as realistic as possible," Sanford said. "We'd like to see Search and Rescue team members who participated in the rescue play those roles" in the TV production.

Horton was interviewed live on ABC's "Good Morning America" shortly after his rescue.

He was pleased Monday at his ability to walk about a mile and a half Monday with the use of a single crutch. This time, he brought along a friend on his latest return to the Flat Tops.

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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