SEATTLE — After surviving 60 days naked in a buggy Louisiana swamp, he climbed 20,310-foot Denali in Alaska to snowboard from the summit.
What’s up with that?
Max Djenohan is one of those guys who makes you want to stay on the couch.
You can stream him in pixelated splendor on Discovery Channel’s “Naked and Afraid XL.”
Djenohan, 32, is back in the buff for the fifth time on the survival reality TV show that puts participants in extreme settings with no food, water or clothes. The semi-pro Seattle snowboarder was raised in Shoreline and used to live in Edmonds.
He was profiled in The Herald in 2019 after his second nude stint in a Panama jungle. Two more stints followed, including 40 days in the Philippines. His latest and longest is the two-month “Naked and Afraid XL” filmed in the Louisiana bayou in late 2020. That series is airing now, with the finale on Sunday.
“The theme of the season is ‘legends,’” a Discovery spokeswoman said. “It’s basically the best of the best coming together, and Max is included in that group.”
Djenohan called it “the hardest one so far.”
He thrives on thrills.
“I went from one of the lowest places in the United States to the highest in the United States,” he said.
He spent the first half of 2021 training for his early June ascent of the most prominent peak in North America.
“I’ve been snowboarding for 20 years now. So it’s safer for me to snowboard down than it is for me to walk down,” Djenohan said of Denali.
Instead of film crews, he was joined by five adventurous friends on the 10-day trek on the Alaska mountain. This wasn’t for a TV show but rather a personal challenge and a statement to encourage other people of color.
As far as he knows, “I was the first Black man to snowboard off the summit,” he said. “It’s more of a testament to the inaccessibility and lack of equity when it comes to action sports in the outdoors. Any sort of alpine sports are very expensive. Snowboarding off the summit is not anything new. There has been such a disproportionate amount of white people who have been to the summit.”
Djenohan is a Crystal Mountain ambassador and assists with service programs to expand board sports for children of color.
“I have been able to have my sponsors give them resources and bindings and gear for the kids in the programs,” he said. “I have been trying to use my platform to shed light on equity and to create a more equitable space in the outdoors.”
He started snowboarding in middle school.
“My mom and I and siblings would go cross-country skiing up near Snoqualmie,” he said. “I’d see people going down the downhill and I was just intrigued. I was like, ‘This looks so much cooler than cross-country skiing.’”
He uses the money he earns from “Naked and Afraid” to fund his mountain ventures.
“I’ve snowboarded off a lot of summits,” he said.
So far, Denali is his only of the Seven Summits, the highest peaks of each continent.
“On the summit of Denali without windchill it was negative-20,” he said. “Two of my partners on the climb got frostbite on their toes.”
He returned to Seattle on June 6 from Alaska. Two days later, he climbed Mount Rainier.
“It was nothing for me to walk up there,” he said. “I felt really, really good. We got to ski from 13,000 feet all the way down to 4,000, so we got a 9,000-foot run. It’s pretty awesome.”
The latest “Naked and Afraid” series was during the pandemic. It took place in the U.S. due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
“I was essentially quarantined to the swamp for two months,” Djenohan said. “It could have been worse. And I was getting paid for it, too.”
The pay was a “decent amount,” he said. “It allowed me to buy a new car and go climb Denali.”
The TV show also fits with his equity platform.
“You can legit count on one hand how many African-American contestants there have been,” he said. “To be in a position to show people like me that there are people like me in this space and that we belong in this space.”
Like most of us, he watches “Naked and Afraid” with awe.
“When I re-watch these episodes it seems like that’s a completely different Max out there,” he said. “That’s not the Max I know right now, a city slicker wearing all my clothing, and not having to starve for food or hunt or trap. It’s a different me out there.”
He said the 60-day stint in the mosquito-infested swamp was his last “Naked and Afraid.” He already has plans to be on a different survival show next year, but not in the buff.
“I want to be fully clothed from now on,” he said.
Andrea Brown: firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.
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