Warning: SPOILER ALERT. If you haven’t watched this episode, stop reading now!
On leg seven of Ultimate Survival Alaska, the teams begin their trek off the toe of the barrier glacier. With only four legs remaining, Military and Mountaineers are tied with two wins, Endurance trailing with a single win. First the teams will cross a steep ridge to the Strandline Canyon, then trek 40 miles to the extraction landing zone, an old plane wreck on Beluga Lake.
Military has had some tough breaks the last three legs and are determined to get back on the board again. They take the most direct route across a basin that is riddled with quicksand. The quicksand is a deadly combination of glacier silt and melt water, which can easily swallow a man whole, something that Military quickly experiences. Walking isn’t working, so they decide to sprint. (Sprinting across quicksand with 100+ pound packs, easy, right?)
Meanwhile, the Mountaineers notice Military making progress with their sprints, unaware how bad the quicksand they have just crossed can be. Assuming it will be a piece of cake, they discover that one moment you can be walking on solid ground, only to find yourself mired. Marty and Tyler are stuck waist-deep and freezing. Thomas is forced to hang back and throw them a rope. (Watch them get stuck.)
Endurance focuses on “the safe” road. (As if there is a safe road in the Alaskan wilderness.) They head straight for Strandline Canyon following a winding valley. Avoiding the quicksand puts them in first place, but they find themselves at the edge of a raging river with no easy crossing. All the same, they jump into the icy water.
Things are looking good for Endurance’s crossing until Dallas slips into the water and finds himself clinging to a boulder for dear life and freezing. (Hang on, Dallas!) His team rescues him and together they make a different crossing. On land, they have to quickly build a fire and get Dallas warm.
Military takes a commanding lead, trying to keep a low profile so The Mountaineers don’t realize they are a mile ahead. Reaching the mouth of the canyon, they still have get down to it. They decide to strategize later. With a storm approaching Military and the other two teams set camp and call it a night.
On Day Two, Endurance is in first place, Military in second and Mountaineers a close third. Military slides down a slick, rocky, and dangerous slope to the bottom of the canyon. Rather than risk the same dangerous scree descent, the Mountaineers find a safer descent and move ahead of Military.
Meanwhile, Endurance finds themselves with nowhere to go except for another even larger river crossing. Securing a pack raft to a line, Dallas tries to paddle to the other side in order to set up a line. After one failed attempt, they make it, getting their gear and the team across safely. They take the lead on the Mountaineers who have already set camp, and watch as they lose their position.
While the Mountaineers nibble on lowland fireweed stalks (At least they are getting some roughage.) and Endurance chows down on salmon, Military keeps moving until midnight. Once again, Military takes the lead. In the morning on day three, with four hours left, all three teams are close enough to one another that it could be anyone’s win. They just have to find the LZ.
Rudy climbs a tree to scout for the LZ and sees their win right ahead of them and no one else in sight. It’s looking like their win, until fate steps in. Rudy takes a spill coming down the tree, cracking his ankle. There are only 300 meters left and Rudy insists that they strap his leg up and keep moving. With Rudy walking through the pain, Military wins. It’s a bittersweet success, however. On closer inspection, the team is certain that Rudy has broken his ankle. Endurance arrives second, followed by The Mountaineers, but all anyone can think about is the injured competitor. If Rudy can break an ankle, then any of them could be taken out of the race.
All three members of Military made it to the extraction zone, so they remain in the race, but they are going to have to finish the last legs without Rudy. (We’re going to miss you, Rudy!!) Will this disadvantage cost them the race? Tune in next week to Ultimate Survival Alaska: Guts and Glory on Sunday February 9 at 9 PM et/pt and find out.