WARNING SPOILERS! If you haven’t watched episode four, stop reading now!
In the fourth leg of Ultimate Survival Alaska, everyone is still smarting from the loss of The Woodsmen, reminded that anything could happen. The three remaining teams are determined to stay safe and in the race, but the Alaskan landscape has other plans for them.
Starting out on the barren Triumvirate Glacier, the teams must trek thirty miles through a granite face and the snow-covered Tordrillo Mountains to get to the LZ at Frustration Lake. The Mountaineers head straight for the rock-face, ready to prove their prowess. Endurance and Military let them have their crazy climb, sticking to the lower elevations, but quickly wondering if they have made a mistake.
The Military find themselves at the edge of 200-foot-wide canyon that is 250-feet deep. Not seeing a way to cross, they backtrack, losing their advantage and finding themselves in second place. However, it’s a setback that seems to have its upside. The team finds a tyrolean traverse, a fixed line that crosses the gorge and will allow them to get to the other side with a harness. The only question is how long it has been there and how safe it will be.
Endurance watches Military cross as they approach from a distance. In looks insane, but they don’t want to lose any more time. They are right behind them on the ropes, which theoretically are already proven safe. Dallas and Sean make it across with no problem, but Eddie, the last on the line isn’t so lucky.
Unable to assist, the team watches as Eddie’s rigging breaks away from the primary line and he takes a heart-dropping 30-foot fall before the backup line catches him and then he slams into the other side of the canyon. He’s thankfully not at the bottom of the canyon, but no one knows if the safety line will hold him or how badly he’s injured. Seeming to shake it off, Eddie makes it hand over hand to where the guys can help him up. He could easily have broken an ankle, if not his back. Safe on the other side, shaking with adrenaline, he can barely talk, but amazingly, he is completely in one piece. (If you were holding your breath just watching this, you aren’t the only one… )
The Mountaineers don’t exactly have it easy in the meantime. They are ascending 500 feet of loose gravel, dodging falling rock and barely keeping their handholds. Even after climbing 2,500 feet and taking the direct route, they are in 3rd place.
On day two, the Mountaineers reach the summit and are rewarded with a stunning view of the world from the top. Descending though, just like the way up, is slow work. They are in a distant third place and wondering how to make up the time.
Endurance takes a shortcut through a treacherous an icy mountain pass. Meanwhile, Military takes a gradual descent, which would be the easier walk if it weren’t for dodging avalanches.
The Mountaineers stumble on a bit of luck, a cache of long abandoned gear, two sets of skis, snowshoes and an axe. Using Tyler’s “MacGyver” toolbox, they hook up their boots and hit the snow. In no time, they catch up to Military, leaving Rudy shaking his head and muttering, “Those freaking jerks blew by us on skis.” See ya, Military!
At the end of the day Mountaineers have a solid lead on second place Military and third place Endurance. However, Endurance has something none of the other teams have, Eddie’s flask of seal oil for energy. Yum? Sean says it tastes great, but I can’t help but wonder if he’s just being polite.
On extraction day, the teams are in a close race. Military is on the other side of the lake from the LZ, inflating their rafts when they spot Endurance in a foot race to the finish line. Jared, deciding there is no time to inflate a third raft makes fins out of his snowshoes and plunges in. (Brrrr!!! Am I the only one who needs to watch this show under an electric blanket?)
The Mountaineers now in sight as well, cross the lake by hopping from iceberg to iceberg. It looks like anyone’s race, but it’s the Mountaineers who take it, followed by Endurance and Military. While Military may have lost, everyone is impressed they didn’t lose more — like pieces of Jared — to the astoundingly cold water. Mountaineers take their first victory, passing around the bottle they find in the beer barrel in celebration.
Everyone may as well celebrate now, because next up they face the Swan River Valley and 80 miles of raging whitewater. Tune in to Ultimate Survival Alaska: River of Fury to see who takes the advantage on the water. Who do you think will win?