Savage Waters: 5 Things You Missed On Ultimate Survival Alaska

This week’s Ultimate Survival Alaska is as tight as can be going into leg 8, with Teams Military, Endurance and Alaskans in a three-way tie for first place. This week’s competition poses a new challenge for the teams; armed with a cache of saws, drills, ropes and logs, they must construct handmade rafts, which they’ll need to survive the savage Tazlina River. After navigating 48 miles of deadly rapids, the teams will race over a dry river valley to the flag.


Faced with punishing rocks and class four whitewater, their designs are crucial to their success and survival.

1. Endurance: Without A Paddle

The Endurance team is the first to reach the insertion flag and its accompanying cache of building supplies. Keeping in mind the technical challenges of the rocky rapids, Dallas takes the lead in fashioning a stable and easily maneuverable raft. At first, the team has no trouble sweeping their way around the river’s gauntlet of boulders.

But Endurance’s luck doesn’t last, as Ben loses his paddle when the raft hits an underwater boulder.


Spiraling out of control, the raft heads straight for a massive rock. Forced to abandon ship, the team leaps into the water, throwing their packs in after them. But Dallas’ pack gets away, sailing downriver and out of sight.


It’s a disastrous turn of events for Dallas, who now faces the prospect of surviving the Alaskan wild without his sleeping bag, food and other essential supplies.

2. Lower 48: It Takes Two

Arriving second to the flag, Lower 48 begins on a high note after a tumultuous end in the last leg. After an injured Sweeney voluntarily quit the competition at the end of leg seven, Cluck and Kasha are left to navigate the competition as a duo. Sweeney’s strength and wisdom were important to their team’s survival, but after seven legs of in-fighting, Lower 48’s two remaining teammates are finally on the same page.


And luckily, as a professional kayaker, Cluck is fully qualified to design and steer an effective raft, and while the other teams focus on building a weighty boat, Lower 48 assembles a smaller boat. First to launch, they set off into the gauntlet.



With Cluck’s expertise the team maneuvers through a maze of boulders, but even this experienced waterman is no match for the Tazlina’s raging rapids. Heading straight for two boulders, Cluck and Kasha almost wipe out completely.


3. Military: Solid As A Rock

The Military start building their raft with one goal: assemble the most durable ship they can craft. With the most experience on the water as a former Navy SEAL, Jared takes charge of the military’s raft design, helping the team construct a double-level platform that can withstand the brunt of any collision. Armed with their floating tank, the team is the second to launch.

Their raft turns out to be too sturdy, making it nearly impossible to steer. Within minutes of sailing down the river, they slam into a boulder. The boat stays together, but due to its massive weight, it’s now stuck on the rock, too heavy to move.


The team manages to pull their ship off the boulder, but not before watching Endurance and Alaskans’ ships pass them on the river. Demoralized by their setback, the team tries to make up for lost time.


4. Alaskans: Holy Moly

Led by Marty, who builds log cabins, and Tyler, an engineer, the Alaskans have the most professional building experience of any team. Using their expert craftsmanship skills, the team constructs an intricate raft complete with oarlocks and a rudder. Although last to launch, their boat is easy to steer, helping them make good time.


But soon, the team falls victim to the river’s treacherous boulders, getting stuck on an underwater rock mid-river. Not wanting to lose ground to their competitors, Marty wants to chop off the log that’s stuck on the boulder. Vern doesn’t agree, but Marty is convinced his course of action is the correct one.


5. And the winner is…

As the leg nears its conclusion, Lower 48 remains in first with the Alaskans close behind as they head to the LZ. In third without a pack, Dallas and Endurance make their trek overland. While in last, Military faces a long slog on foot.

After Military overshoots their distance, the team is stuck eight miles from the LZ with only four hours until extraction.


Team Endurance and Lower 48 meet in the river valley, with both teams frantically trying to ID the flag before the others find it first. It’s a frantic race to the flag…


But Team Lower 48 ekes out a hard-one win. And considering they navigated the competition with only two teammates, this victory is extra-sweet for Kasha and Cluck. Just look at that victory dance!


Team Endurance comes in a close second, while Alaskans come in third. With just 10 minutes left until extraction, Team Military makes it to the LZ, just barely staying in the competition.


Pulling in their first win as a duo, Lower 48’s victory brings the competition into a four-way tie. Cluck and Kasha celebrate graciously – by sharing this leg’s prize, fresh fruit, with the other competitors.


Which team will win next? Don’t forget to make your predictions for each leg of the competition on our Survival Competition Tracker.




  1. Truth Be Told
    February 16, 2015, 4:01 pm

    Just to set things straight: the narrator says that the teams have to raft 48 miles down the Tazlina River to its confluence with the Copper River. Not entirely true. The teams built their rafts on a gravel bar located at 62.085859° North, 145.660440° West. From there, it is only 14 miles down the Tazlina River to the area where the extraction point was located. 14 miles; not 48. Considering that the river is flowing at least 5 MPH, once on the river, it should take only about 3 hours to float down to the extraction point. Granted, the teams had some difficulties in getting hung up on rocks, which took extra time. But still, why would it take 60 hours to travel 14 miles from start to finish? Once again, this just proves that this is not an actual race. It’s just a few hours of scripted action interrupted by hours and hours of down-time spent with the film crew.

    But come on – telling us they covered 48 miles when in fact it was only 14 – REALLY?! Hey producers – why not try just telling the truth once in a while? Why the need for the constant lies and deception?

  2. Okie
    February 24, 2015, 3:15 pm

    I find it interesting that the winning teams reward always seems to match that teams personality. The military team got beer and chips and the yuppie Lower 48 team gets a fruit tray?