5 Things You Missed: Ultimate Survival Alaska’s Season 3 Premiere

Welcome back to Alaska. Ultimate Survival Alaska returns for a third season of competition and survival, challenging four teams of the world’s toughest outdoorsmen in a head-to-head race across America’s most unforgiving terrain.

The rules are the same: four teams racing to complete each leg from start to finish in only 60 hours, using nothing but the gear in their packs. This season, veteran competitors are pitted against Alaskan newcomers, all coming from different backgrounds to battle for the prize. Team Endurance are the reigning champs, led by USA veteran Dallas Seavey. Narrowly thwarted by Endurance for the win last season, Team Military are out for revenge. Team Alaskans pose a formidable threat, comprised of competitors used to the state’s merciless terrain. And then there’s Team Lower 48, made up of formidable newcomers looking to pull off a dark-horse win.

On the season premiere, the four teams are tasked to summit Mount Gerdine, a 10,000-foot behemoth located deep in the Alaskan interior. To get there, the competitors must cross a rapidly thawing lake, traverse a glacier and scale walls of crumbing ice. If the first challenge is a harbinger of the difficulties to come this season, the four USA teams have a tough road ahead.

1. Revenge: best served cold


Team Military isn’t just here to win. They’re here for revenge, on a mission to beat the team that edged them out last season, Team Endurance. After last season’s loss, returning competitors former Green Beret Grady Powell and former Navy SEAL Jared Ogden have one goal in mind: beat Dallas.  And when faced with their first major roadblock of the season, a half-frozen lake that’s quickly thawing, Military doesn’t waste time trying to circumvent the thin ice.

Knowing they’re taking a big risk crossing the thin ice, Jared has an idea to keep them from falling in – spreading out their gear to balance their weight. Tiptoeing their way across the thawing ice, the team makes it across successfully – except for a quick dip in some slush – and captures the first flag of the leg.


Team Military leads the charge from the lake to the mountain, but they soon run into difficulties with their newest member, former Marine scout sniper Daniel Dean. Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, Daniel is out of his element in the snowy terrain. He’s eager to prove himself, but Alaska is unrelenting, and Daniel soon finds himself in over his head.

2. Dallas takes the plunge


Returning Ultimate Survival Alaska champion Dallas Seavey is having a big year. Four months ago, the pro dog musher won his second Iditarod, setting an all-time speed record for the competition. He returns to USA for a third season at the helm of the Endurance Team, joined by avalanche expert and heli-ski guide Lel Tone and mountain climber Ben Johns.

Team Endurance is eager to thwart their Team Military rivals, so when they see Military charging onto the dangerously thin ice, Dallas is forced to make a difficult decision, urging his team to follow them across. But while Military spreads out their gear to balance their weight as they cross the ice, Endurance chooses to carry their packs, adding over 40 pounds to their centers of gravity.

As they inch across, Dallas takes a scary plunge through the ice.


Luckily, he emerges unscathed, but the near-deadly fall doesn’t do Team Endurance any favors in their race against the clock. As they regroup after Dallas’ fall, Team Military surges into the lead heading towards the mountain.

3. The Alaskans raise the stakes


It takes some serious bravery to take the riskiest route up a dangerous mountain – especially on the first episode. Back for their third season, mountain man Marty Raney and big peak racer Tyler Johnson lead the all-Alaskan team, joined by experienced mountain guide and Mount Everest vet Vern Tejas. After bypassing the risky river crossing and taking a longer, safer route, the team falls behind.

To make up time, the team embraces their competitive advantage – climbing mountains – and follows the steepest route to the mountain’s summit, taking them face-to-face with a deadly cornice overhang of snow and ice. One false step could mean triggering a massive avalanche.


Few teams could accomplish such a feat, but these men are in their element on the steep climb.

4. High stakes, higher tension


Representing the contiguous United States, the Lower 48 team consists of three Ultimate Survival Alaska rookies: mountain climber James Sweeney, pro-skier Kasha Rigby, and professional kayaker Scott “Cluck” McCluskey.

Hailing from South Carolina, Cluck is quickly overwhelmed by the icy mountain terrain. As a professional kayaker who competes with the U.S. Olympic team, Cluck has tackled the world’s most difficult whitewater rapids. But this icy terrain is completely foreign to him, and he soon butts heads with the experienced but short-tempered Sweeney, who isn’t above teasing his teammates.


Cluck is not amused.


Kasha attempts to keep the peace as the team embarks on the tumultuous climb to the summit of Mount Gerdine, fighting to get ahead in the race.

5. Endurance pays off

On the final morning of the leg, Dallas cooks up a big pot of rice and beans with a tin-can “Iditarod stove” to fuel his team for the final leg…


…and it works! After battling off Team Military throughout the challenge, Endurance edges out their rivals, winning Season 3’s first battle. Team Military comes in a narrow second, Alaska in third, and Lower 48 in fourth.

With an early lead this season, will Endurance be able to maintain their momentum? Tune in next week for another all-new episode of USA, and thanks for reading. Thoughts? Questions? Complaints? Leave them in the comments below.

Which team do you think will prevail this season? Make your predictions for each leg of the competition on our Survival Competition Tracker here.

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  1. Chris
    South Carolina
    January 5, 2015, 2:27 pm

    I love this show!! Congrats on Team Endurance but this year it will be Team Military! I am a former Marine and have the up most respect for the Military team. Semper Fi!

  2. James Wright
    Eastern Kentucky
    January 5, 2015, 2:47 pm

    Great start to this season, but really disappointed with lower 48.

  3. Fred Vickers
    West Virginia
    January 5, 2015, 3:07 pm

    I watched the last few shows of season 2 and really enjoyed them. Then season 3 starts and right off the bat we are watching a main stream reality show with all the drama of three people who should NEVER have been picked for it. If they don’t get eliminated soon I’ll be looking elsewhere. Season 2 didn’t have this bickering and fighting and it was refreshing to watch a show for a change that didn’t have the BS!!! I might as well been watching the CBS show Survivor.

  4. Kathy Pabst
    United States
    January 5, 2015, 9:55 pm

    I have to agree with Fred Vickers! I love team Alaskans. I think Marty brings it all to the table and he is fun to watch. But Season 3 sounded like a soap show not a survival show. I have watched every show seasons 1 and 2. I was biting my lip for Season 3 to start. Didn’t take much of that to think I can’t stand a whole season of the back biting. IF you can’t be a team player, what are you doing in this show? It takes the whole team to win!

  5. Cheryl
    January 6, 2015, 1:42 am

    Loved Season 2 and was so looking forward to watching season 3, but found it very uncomfortable to watch the old man on the Lower 48 team relentlessly BULLY the guy from SC. I watch to enjoy the expedition experience. Not to see fighting and verbal assaults. What a letdown. That old goat on the Lower 48 should be DQ’d for unsportsmanlike conduct. If his bad behavior continues in the next episode…I will be tuning out.

  6. Rick Rasmussen
    United States
    January 6, 2015, 4:56 am

    I agree the lower 48 team needs to shut up or get out! I want to know how the show is filmed. How does the camera man manage to follow these guys on their adventures. That would be a show in itself.

  7. wendy poginy
    January 6, 2015, 8:42 am

    I watched the Alaska team was third however, They used smarts by not crossing that water.Safe is better. It tells me that they will use there heads instead of taking chances someone can get hurt…As far as the lower 48 team I truly believe that Id be pretty pissed off too if my team mates were sissified like those two are the lower 48 team should stay and perhaps in the future they can become a tougher team If they listen to Sweeney and do what he says.

  8. Brettfair
    Juneau, AK
    January 6, 2015, 10:20 am

    I really hope season three takes an upswing and drops the drama……which may lead to dropping the lower 48 team. At least that grumpy old Sweeney. Complains about not going fast enough but makes everyone wait on him while his feet dry…..tough up or get out. At least drop the drama so the show isnt so toxic to watch.

  9. Cub
    January 7, 2015, 6:17 am

    It’s still as blatantly fake and staged as before (yeah let’s hike 60 miles in 48 hours after starving for 3 days…), but with reality show drama which makes it worse. You could have made a good show by making it REAL and by avoiding piling challenges over challenges. I feel sick when I see those mountaineers and soldiers and what-else just lying through their teeth with fake injuries, fake dangers, and fake disappearances (Tyler’s “mishap” in the river last season was just too much), they pretend you have to respect the wilderness and yet they present to the public a completely staged performance, staging dangerous bits. Shame on them.

  10. David
    January 12, 2015, 4:19 am

    God, I hope I didn’t miss an ice climb or a repel! Really trying to like these shows but i know as well as plenty of people that it’s tv…might be more thrilling to be a desperate husband of the OC! Ha ha

  11. David
    January 12, 2015, 4:23 am

    Just give me mick dodge as my guilty pleasure! I already know the truth about live free or die from a personal friend…don’t fail me now nat geo, your the only thing saving me from bravo channel or canceling all cable! Which is what I should do!

  12. arvel
    January 12, 2015, 3:20 pm

    Come on people! who doesn’t know that this is the Dallas Seavey show!? I don’t think NatGeo would have this show if it wasn’t for featuring this kid as a great native son athlete. Fine that he’s the youngest dog sled champ..good for him. Who wants to bet he’ll win again this season? So thinly veiled and predicable. He truly couldn’t go up against a good military team. BTW, that military team is a joke. Will be watching the last episode to collect my bet!

  13. Johnnie
    January 25, 2015, 8:57 am

    Yep! Nat Geo my last stop too before canceling cable
    TV . But they caved in to hateful reality Garbage .Who watches this stuff?

  14. Truth Be Told
    January 26, 2015, 11:58 pm

    This show is total and utter BS! Let me see if I understand this… these guys (and gals) are supposed to be experienced outdoors-folks,eh? Then why in the world would they cross the thin ice of a melting lake WHILE CARRYING THEIR SNOWSHOES ON THEIR PACKS?! How stupid is that?! And, it’s no surprise to see that the producers of this POS show, after two previous seasons, still can’t get their geography correct. The narrator gravely tells us that the teams have to climb 2,000 feet from the forest to the summit of Mt. Gerdine. Well guess what? The lake where the teams began their “heroic” trek is at around 250 feet elevation, while the summit of Mt. Gerdine is at 11, 258 feet. So by my calculations, that’s an elevation gain of 11,008 feet (go ahead, check my work, you’ll see I’m correct). NOT 2,000 feet. But when the teams reach the extraction point at the end of the show, you can clearly see that they are actually on a small hump of a peak, nowhere near 11,000 feet. So while they apparently did climb about 2,000 feet, they were nowhere near Mt. Gerdine.So, Nat Geo, why do you have to blatantly lie by saying the teams climbed to the summit of Mt. Gerdine? NOT TRUE! Why the constant lies, episode after episode, season after season? Why not just tell the truth about where all this ridiculousness takes place? What are you trying to hide?

  15. Marilyn Holmes
    Greenville SC
    February 11, 2015, 3:10 am

    I love this show. I was wondering how the teams are chosen. Who decides who goes on what team?

  16. Marilyn Holmes
    Greenville SC
    February 11, 2015, 3:18 am

    My daughter Miyia and I do not miss an episode of this show. We are both wondering when Sweeney is just gonna quit. He has said twice now that he wanted to quit. He abandoned his teammates and then his hip is hurting. Why wont he just give up already. the rest of the team doesn’t want to quit so it’s kinda hard for them im sure to know that this nagging guy is about to quit on them.

  17. Kimberly
    Salt Lake City
    July 31, 2016, 11:43 pm

    Love the show. Season 1 was my favorite, I preferred it before it became a competition.
    I am just getting around to watching season 3 and not sure I will finish it if James continues to be such a bully. Most definitely not a team player and adding too much drama to the show.

  18. FU Natgeo
    In bed with Gary E. Knell’s wife :)
    August 29, 2016, 10:59 am

    Nat Geo: You lie to us when you say this is a real show. At minimum you have faked the fishing catches. I lost all respect for you and Marty when he pulled that halibut into the boat. We will never watch the show again. Funny thing is that it would be a better show if you didn’t lie to us and stage fake scenes. Why won’t you just let the reality of the show happen and not lie to us. We should sue you for lying to us. FU Gary and Marty. Marty: You sold out.