Students take the polar plunge

{gallery}1011/i17/webpolar{/gallery}All Photos Barbara Anderson

February midterms got you down? Try jumping into Clear Creek. You might not take your fun-finding to such an extreme, but Zach Szlendak does. He is trying to bring the craze to Mines with the Polar Bear Club.

Szlendak, president and founder of the club, held an information session with free pizza and 15 daring attendees. He hopes to share his love for polar-bearing with the group and encourage them to join him.

He began by discussing the budget. “We have $100 dollars from the school. 50 of it we’ve spent on pizza,” Szlendak jokes. “And the other 50 will be towels.”

In the information session, a few participants learned that the club had nothing to do with the big white predators that live in the Arctic. Taylor Scheuerman came with a friend expecting to help in the conservation of polar bears. After the misunderstanding was cleared up, Scheuerman began to consider trying it, admitting, “It seems like an interesting experience.”

Most of the students at the session had not taken the plunge before. Eric Rosing said, “I’ve jumped in a cold stream, but that’s it. But it sounds fun.” Szlendak explained a little about the experience to those who were new. The jump is extremely cold, but as long as you are smart, it is not dangerous “because there’s not enough time for the heat to transfer and for you to get that cold.”

Marty Droze, a member of the club, said, “I’ve polar bear-ed before. It was cold as crap. But also fun as crap.” If you think these students are nuts for wanting to do it, realize they are not the only ones. In Canada, plunging into icy water is a typical New Years tradition. Colorado has its own tradition with the Polar Bear Plunge that takes place in Boulder Reservoir on January 1.

Szlendak played The Life Aquatic for the potential Polar Bear Club members. “The reason we’re watching The Life Aquatic is to remind us that you can’t appreciate nature and enjoy it if you don’t respect it… That’s one of the central themes behind the movie.”
The club plans to meet every other Saturday to take a dip in either Golden Reservoir or Clear Creek. Szlendak said, “I’m hoping later in the spring, or early fall, to maybe even have a trip up to Rocky Mountain National Park, camp out.”

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