The Happy Camper: Alone Season 9 Interview with Canadian Contestant Juan Pablo

Two of the contestants on the new Season 9 of History Chanel’s Alone are Canadian. Last week, I interviewed Teimojin Tan (a.k.a. Dr. Tan), a physician and survivalist living in the Bruce Peninsula. This week I caught up with Juan Pablo from Pinawa, MB.

Juan Pablo is a survival specialist and wilderness first responder with 10 years of outdoor recreational experience. He holds a B.A. in Applied Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership and has clocked a lot of bush time. Juan Pablo has backpacked the entire Pacific Crest Trail (2,650 miles) in 99 days; paddled over 1,500 miles during numerous whitewater and flatwater trips (including the Hayes River to Hudson Bay); lived for six months in the wild with his partner, Jennifer, foraging to complement their semi-starvation rations; and spent 100 days foraging in solitude during the boreal winter, supported only by small rations.

Juan Pablo signed up for the show mainly for the chance to compete with some of the best survival experts. Yes, the money and experience in the wilds of Labrador enticed him, but it was mainly to be a part of the Alone experience. Juan Pablo said, “Living off the wilderness and being connected to the land is something very close to my heart.”

Juan Pablo gained his love for the outdoors growing up in the Mexican suburbs, spending time in the woods and going on wild adventures with his father. That’s probably why none of his friends or family were surprised when he signed up for Alone.

Juan Pablo AloneJuan Pablo as a kid in Mexico

Being dropped off on location (banks of Labrador’s Big River) was one of the most exciting moments of Juan Pablo’s life. “You’re going into the unknown, and then coming to realize that you’re about to put your mind and body to the limit. When you cross that window, it’s such a momentous thing. I felt completely high on adrenaline—a reptilian brain, totally.”

The most frustrating moments during the show for Juan Pablo came with the ever-changing weather of Labrador and the challenges of always having to film. “Rain and cameras don’t mix. Moving tripods, getting different angles—and still trying to survive too. It’s very hard to balance the two.”

His new skill learned during his time in Labrador was fly fishing. Fish could only be caught on a fly in the province, and he had to learn to adapt. Juan Pablo claimed, “It would be impossible to not have my past outdoor experiences kick in during the Alone journey. But at the end of the day, it was crucial that I learned to adapt to the environment I was in, to follow my intuition, transfer my past experience and have a lot of improvisations.”

Juan as a kid in MexicoJuan Pablo as a kid in Mexico

I really enjoyed my time chatting with Juan Pablo, and I hope he does well on the show. He’s probably not one of the most social media-savvy players on the show (he declined a Whisky Fireside Chat due to being camera shy). So I’m guessing he didn’t capture the best moments on camera. But he’s truly passionate about being out on the land—and that’s more important in my view.

Make sure to check out his book, Thrive: Long-Term Wilderness Survival Guide (should be available early July 2022). He’s been working on the book since well before his Alone debut.

If Juan Pablo wins Alone, he’ll use the prize money to buy land and begin a homestead community where he can start a family. He’s excited about this opportunity to test the limits of his body and mind.

Season 9 began May 26, 2022. There are 11 episodes. Alone is one of the most-watched programs on The History Channel and is available to stream on STACKTV through Amazon Prime.

Here are the 10 items Juan Pablo selected to bring on his survival journey to the remote wilderness valley in Labrador, Canada. Of all the 10 items Juan Pablo was allowed to bring, it was the fire starter he questioned.

  1. Ferro rod
  1. Paracord
  1. Two-quart pot
  1. Ax
  1. Fishing line and hooks
  1. Saw
  1. Bow and arrows
  1. Sleeping bag
  1. Trapping wire
  1. Multi-tool

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