Why Peter Stark's 'Frozen Alive' Story Still Resonates More Than 20 Years Later


this message comes from n._p._r. sponsor comcast business business has always been driven by innovators that's why comcast business is helping you with technology that provides better experiences comcast business beyond fast the cold snap in the midwest is shattering records in some cities schools canceled mail delivery suspended at least eight people have died from the cold while you are hopefully huddled someplace warm we're going to talk now with the man behind one of the most famous pieces ever written about extreme cold okay that's a subjective statement but here is something we can't say definitively peter stark wrote the peace frozen alive more than twenty years ago and today it is still one of the most popular stories on the website for outside magazine peter stark welcome thank you great to be here ari just start by reading the first paragraph of the story sure when your jeep spins lazily off the mountain road and slams backward into a snowbank thank you don't worry immediately about the cold your first thought is that you've just dented your bumper your second is that you failed to bring a shovel your third is that you'll be late for dinner friends are expecting you at their cabin around eight for moonlight ski a late dinner asana nothing can keep you from that the story goes on to describe a near death experiences the man tries to skew his friend's house and ends up falling in the snow of all the things you've written in your career and you have written a lot why do you think this story keeps resonating after twenty years in my mind is zambia's story the story that's about being dead or near dead and it comes back to life every winter it gets really cold and i think one reason is that we're all humans we all have a body we all have the same physiology and every one of us has been cold in some way or another one point or another and this is what happens when your body is taken to an extreme in that cold situation tell us about the inspiration for this piece i understand it was not your original idea to write it this way no i was really interested in the physiology of cold and so i came up with this idea of camping out on the coldest spot in the united states lower forty eight states rogers pass montana on the coldest night of winter and then writing about that experience and we've again the physiology of cold well when that coldest night of the year rolled around it was going to be fifty below zero with a fifty mile an hour wind and i decided by a be a really bad idea so i stayed home and i called my editor and said you know how about if i just can't in the backyard and he said no no no we don't like to camp in the backyard why don't you invent a guy who goes out in co old like this and he gets in trouble and then use his experiences to tell the physiology of the human body responding to cold did you do a lot of research with doctors and outdoors experts and actually dig into the science behind this yes i did a tremendous amount of research into the physiology of cold i interviewed actually an old acquaintance from wisconsin who who nearly died of hypothermia by skiing off the wrong side of a mountain in montana twenty degree below zero day and getting caught in the woods to really get his sense of what went through his mind to know situations and i interview emergency room doctors who had warmed up hypothermia victims and kind of sense of what they were like when they came in the story concludes on a poetic and sobering note will you read this paragraph that's close to the end so this is the near the end when the victim who's had near death experience in the cold but he's been rescued and brought to an emergency room and so he's slowly starts to come to consciousness you've traveled to a place where there is no sun you've seen that in the infinite reaches of the universe heat is as glorious and ephemeral as the light of the stars heat exists only where matter exists where particles can vibrate and jump in the infinite winter of space heat is tiny it is the cold that is huge writer and journalist peter stark thank you so much thank you already

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