Lost packs, missing shoes, bouts of the flu, disgruntled team members – the Ultimate Survival Alaska teams have battled through all types of setbacks this season. Luckily, they’ve managed to avoid serious injury. But that changed on the eleventh leg of the competition, where the teams were dropped high in the Alaska Range, tasked with descending two thousand feet down a treacherous glacier, then battling 24 miles of ice fields, frigid rivers, and rugged terrain.
Then, there’s just a crevasse-laden glacier in between them and the extraction LZ. Arriving at the insertion flag, teams find a cache of maps, pack rafts and climbing rope.
Immediately, the competitors face a daunting climb off the massive peak. After tying Endurance in Leg 10, Military has the momentum. But with only three legs left, the pressure’s on to get ahead
1. Team Endurance
First to the insertion flag, Endurance grabs pack rafts and heads for a river they hope will get them to the LZ quickly. Looking for redemption after a bout of the flu on the last leg, Ben leads the charge. He suggests that the team traverse a snow-filled gulley by riding their sled toboggan-style, which works splendidly.
But as they traverse a glacier, the team gets cliffed out high above a glacial lake. Not wanting to backtrack, they rappel down the 100 foot ice wall into their pack rafts. Poor Ben’s journey down the wall doesn’t quite go according to plan.
2. Team Lower 48
Having come in second the past two legs, Lower 48 is itching for a win. Cluck, a professional kayaker, immediately grabs the pack rafts and the duo heads for the nearest river. Looking for the quickest route off the mountain, they’re stopped in their tracks by a massive waterfall. Seeing no other way around, the team rappels down – and practically through – the waterfall, then launching their rafts into the river below.
Lower 48 are well on their way to their third win of the competition, when suddenly, Kasha flips and loses her boat.
Doubling up in Cluck’s raft proves impossible, and the team soon finds itself far behind schedule.
3. Team Alaskans
At the insertion flag, the Alaskans grab climbing rope and decide to take advantage of their master mountaineering skills, traveling along a narrow ridgeline and braving crumbling rock and falling boulders.
Soon, they reach a dead end and are forced to rappel down the unstable rock face. Tyler goes first, nearly falling to his death in the process.
The team must find another way down, or lose valuable time backtracking for miles.
4. Team Military
Last to the flag, the Military decide they need to do something drastic to catch up. The team rappels directly off the top of the peak. As Jared lowers down the jagged cliff, he loses his footing and slams into the hard rock.
Crushing his rib, he can barely catch his breath as he reaches the ground. Facing a treacherous glacier crossing and bushwhacking to reach the LZ, Jared’s injury doesn’t help the team’s progress. But his endurance is impressive; could you leap off a cliff with a broken rib?
5. And the winner is…
On the competition’s final stretch, Team Lower 48 is in trouble. Dangerously behind schedule, Kasha and Cluck decide to swim for it.
While Military and Alaskans are busy bushwhacking their way across the fickle terrain, Endurance’s plunge into the murky water paid off with smooth sailing. In the race to the riverbank, Endurance racks up their fourth win.
And with just three minutes until extraction, Lower 48 makes it to the flag, just barely escaping elimination once again.
Which team will win next? Don’t forget to make your predictions for each leg of the competition on our Survival Competition Tracker.