Ultimate Survival Alaska Team Spotlight: #USALower48

As you may guess from their name, Team Lower 48 represent the lower 48 states.

The rookie team may have cut their teeth elsewhere from the Northern wilderness, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be fierce competitors. The oldest of the group, legendary mountain climber James Sweeney, brings decades of experience from scaling the world’s highest peaks. He is joined by professional skier Kasha Rigby and professional kayaker Scott “Cluck” McCleskey to round out the team’s skill sets. Although new to Alaska, collectively the team brings experience in all terrains to the competition.

Meet Ultimate Survival Alaska‘s newest team:

Kasha Rigby

For Catherine “Kasha” Rigby, there’s nothing like being the first person to ski a run. An accomplished ski mountaineer, Kasha holds multiple first descents on mountains around the world, just one aspect of her decades-long pursuit of the world’s toughest expeditions.

In her pursuit of her mission – to climb and ski down mountains that have never been skied before –  she’s traversed the highest mountains and the most remote regions of every continent.She’s used to carrying all of her own gear, including ropes, axes, crampons and skis. Rigby is well-versed in ice and rock climbing, skills that will come in handy in Alaska’s treacherous terrain.

Scott “Cluck” McCleskey

Hailing from Asheville, North Carolina, Scott “Cluck” McCleskey doesn’t have the winter expedition experience of many of his competitors.

But the professional kayaker who takes on the world’s biggest whitewater welcomes the challenge of the mountains, bringing to the table his passion for the outdoors and his survival knowledge. A true man of the outdoors, Cluck has lost a number of friends to the treachery of the river, providing him with a renewed respect for Mother Nature. In his own words, “Don’t disrespect nature, or nature will equalize you.”

James Sweeney

He may be on Team Lower 48, but James Sweeney is no Alaskan rookie. Known for his climbing and adventures in Alaska, the veteran mountain climber lived in the state for 31 years and knows its terrain well.

What sets Sweeney apart is his pursuit of nature’s challenges; he prefers steep, rocky climbs to summiting the highest peaks. This thirst for adventure has proven dangerous in the past for Sweeney. In 1989, he sustained severe injuries after a fall while climbing a sheer ice wall and had to endure seven avalanches and a large crevasse before reaching safety. But today he’s in the best shape of his life, and relishes the opportunity to “whoop on the young guys” on Ultimate Survival Alaska.


Learn more about Team Lower 48 in the video profile below, and don’t miss the Ultimate Survival Alaska premiere THIS Sunday, January 4 at 9/8c. 


  1. Aspen
    January 4, 2015, 10:55 pm

    It is totally ridiculous that these 3 are the best of the best from the lower 48

  2. Kristy
    January 5, 2015, 10:19 am

    Why!? Why did you have to have people that bicker as much as these guys do! It is horrible. One of the reasons that I have loved this show in the past is because there is no annoying personality drama. Now you had to make this just like any other reality tv show with all the high maintenance relationships. GAG!!!!

  3. Rock DeAugustine
    January 5, 2015, 2:22 pm

    Sweeney is an old Alaska hand and knows the terrain as well as any local.

  4. Kelly Cornelius
    Mustang, Oklahoma
    January 5, 2015, 8:12 pm

    This season has started out terribly. The team chosen for the lower 48 is a complete joke. This show has lost several points in my opinion and resembles the pilot for the show Utopia, where drama and arguing took the place of teamwork and comradery. The military has filled their vacancy with another Marine sniper and that WOULD be great…..that is, if this guy resembled a Marine sniper at all. I’m sorry, but this season has none of the components that made last year so suspenseful and fun to watch. Most of the new players have limited skills and no ability whatsoever to work as a team. Nat Geo…..you can’t get rid of the lower 48 team soon enough. I’ll give this one more episode and if it doesn’t change…..my channel will.

  5. johnny boone
    United States
    January 5, 2015, 9:01 pm

    Sweeney is an animal! The “old dog” is the lead dog in this series. Keep it up Sweeney.

  6. little miami
    lower 48
    January 5, 2015, 9:13 pm

    I agree, we have not missed an episode yet. But if every other word is beeped out, family night at our house will be on another channel. If I wanted to hear all that, I would still be watching deadliest catch…..

  7. Olariu
    January 6, 2015, 1:43 pm

    Sweeney may know his stuff, but he is the biggest a**hole that I have seen on any reality show. An article in a NC newspaper had Cluck describe him as a “nasty disrespectful old man”. Cluck is WAY too kind. I truly feel sorry for the rest of the team.

    The Marine new to the Military team is clueless. I cannot believe the producers let him climb that one pitch without crampons and then crawl into the bear den (to the chagrin of his other teammates). Both incidents were a scary joke.

    The Alaska Team (Vern, Marty and Tyler) is the real deal, even if Marty (whom I love) is maybe a little out of shape. But he is strong. Vern is a legend and a well established mountaineer.

    Of course, I have to assume a lot of the show is staged, like a lot of reality shows.

  8. Ryan
    January 13, 2015, 7:37 pm

    Loose the Team Lower 48. Get another Military person on the Military team.

    Seriously, if the three on Team Lower 48 is the best there is, then either you looked in the wrong places, or you didn’t do a good job of reading their resumes. The only person that seems to know something is Kasha, but even then it’s limited. Sweeny sucks big time. His attitude is awful. Why did you select him? If he was a true outdoors man, then he would understand that team work is important. He would be trying to work as a team and encourage his teammates.

  9. jim
    February 8, 2015, 11:19 pm

    please let a bear eat sweeny and put this old warn out man out of his misery and mine, when you picked him and put him on that team their fate was set in stone—you wanted them to fail. disappointed in you.

  10. Bill
    February 9, 2015, 8:44 pm

    Sweeney is a horrible excuse for a human. Just a nasty bastard. How can this show even let someone like that on TV? Military, Endurance and Alaskans all great, great people. Love those three teams.

  11. OldDirtyBastard
    February 11, 2015, 12:58 pm

    Sweeney is the coolest guy on the show, easily. Not his fault he’s surrounded by idiots. Get him back, pronto!

  12. James Corley
    February 13, 2015, 1:10 am

    Sweeney should be in Florida with the rest of the old folks.

  13. Russell Sampson
    February 14, 2015, 8:41 pm

    I think Nat Geo should give Lower 48 a new member to their team. They totally got gypped by getting Sweeney in the first place. Glad to see he is showing his true roots as a quitter! He is a miserable lonely man.

  14. Kolleen
    Cullowhee, NC
    February 17, 2015, 11:26 pm

    It does seem as though Sweeny was put in place for ratings and for us to have “water cooler” chat like what we’re doing here. With him removed from the equation, i’m hoping we will see the other 2 team members in a better light which we know exists or they would have been lost in the woods by now. Ratings can come from showing unique skill sets too! I would think Nat Geo would want a target audience unlike the Kardashian’s target audience.

  15. Mike
    March 25, 2015, 7:32 pm

    I really enjoyed the program. Cluck and Shasha were awesome. Loved the teamwork. Reveled in the Positive mental attitude. Marty and you guys were my favorites on the show!!!

  16. Ronin
    May 15, 2015, 2:38 pm

    This Kasha woman is super-annoying!