Five legs in, and the Ultimate Survival Alaska competitors are hanging on for dear life.
On this week’s challenge, teams are inserted into a remote river valley to traverse twenty miles of thick brush and rocky terrain, descend to the shores of iceberg-filled Spencer Lake, navigate past a massive glacier and climb two thousand feet to the LZ. It’s a physically demanding challenge that will push the adventurers to their limits, and not every USA competitor emerges unscathed.
Coming off their first win in leg four, Lower 48 is finally in the game, while the Military has yet to win a challenge. Will their luck change this episode?
1. Team Military
Still winless, the Military pulls out all the stops to reach the LZ, bushwhacking to reach the insertion flag first. They’ve reached the initial cache first two legs in a row, but their early starts have fizzled later on. Teams can choose from ice gear, rock climbing gear or a simple rope in the equipment cache, and Military opts to travel light, choosing the rope and heading into the river canyon.
Avoiding the mountain, the team follows the rocky, winding turns of the gorge. At a treacherous river crossing, the team sends Jared into the water to rig a rope, helping the other teammates cross safely.
But in the process, Grady suffers a painful gash on his foot. An infection could knock Grady out of the competition entirely, so he uses his Green Beret training to dress the cut and continues through the forest with the team.
2. Team Endurance
After losing some of their momentum over the past few legs, Endurance hopes to snag another win with Ben’s expert ice climbing skills. Looking at the map, they see the most direct route to the LZ is a straight shot across the Spencer Glacier. Following Ben’s advice, they grab the ice equipment and head for the ice. Navigating a maze of crevasses costs the team valuable time, with no clear path across the large gaps.
Finally, Ben becomes fed up and rigs a Tyrolean traverse across a massive ice gorge. It’s a dangerous maneuver, requiring the teammates to dangle on a rope over terrifyingly deep crevasses.
3. Team Alaskans
Reaching the cache in third place, the Alaskans grab climbing ropes and head for the high mountains. As expert mountaineers, their plan is to climb up and over the steep rock. They should be in their element during this challenge, but there’s just one problem: Tyler is hiking with only one shoe. He MacGyver’ed a new shoe out of a foam sleeping pad and some cord, but it’s no match for a sturdy shoe, especially when he’s climbing a mountain.
The shoe inevitably falls off, and Tyler struggles on his climb.
Arriving at a glacial lake, the Alaskans head for a cache of packrafts and paddle through a maze of icebergs. The team’s woes continue when Marty scrapes his raft in the shallow water, deflating the boat and tipping him into the water.
4. Team Lower 48
Coming off their first win, Lower 48 tries to extend their hot streak into this week’s challenge. But after getting lost in the forest and reaching the equipment cache last, their luck seems to be turning. They head for the river canyon, hoping it will be the fastest route to the LZ. The trio makes great time – until Cluck loses his footing and gets washed downriver.
Cluck recovers and the team continues making progress, encountering Team Alaskans and a shoeless Tyler. Cluck feels bad and, in a rare moment of compassion in the unforgiving USA competition, offers him his extra pair of hiking shoes. It’s a genuine act of sportsmanship, but Sweeney thinks aiding a competing team is unacceptable, setting off another round of bickering.
5. And the winner is…
The teams struggle to finish this leg strong, as Ben loses his pole…
Sweeney and Cluck keep bickering…
And Grady tries not to let his injured foot slow him down:
Turns out, pushing through the pain was worth it, as Military reaches the LZ first to snag their first win.
Which team will win next? Don’t forget to make your predictions for each leg of the competition on our Survival Competition Tracker.