"Ultimate Survival Alaska" takes the explorers to Admiralty Island, home of the densest concentration of brown bears in North America. The likelihood of a bear encounter is especially high because the ferocious predators are in the midst of feeding season. The men have only 72 hours to travel through 35 miles of bear-infested land and water to reach the extraction point in Angoon.The ninth leg of Nat Geo's
"Beasts of Prey" strategy
Although dog musher Brent Sass and climber Tyler Johnson were stranded during the last leg, they manage to rejoin the team at the starting line. The explorers must assemble Kleppers (wooden kayaks) and plot a course through the island's forests and many disjointed waterways. Yet again, they must balance speed and safety as they attempt to avoid grizzlies and reach the extraction point on time.
Brothers Dallas and Tyrell Seavey choose the direct, speedy path. Although they are first to launch their kayak, they have a major setback when Tyrell drops Dallas's knife into the water. Dallas can't resist diving into the 45-degree water to retrieve his lucky charm. He is successful, but the adventure wastes precious time and leaves him freezing. The Seaveys spot billows of smoke on the shore and head to the camp for help.
Mountain man Marty Raney plans to guide his son, Matt, to a risky shortcut right through the heart of bear country. The Raneys make good time on the water and soon reach their first portage. They cautiously set camp and start a fire in hopes of keeping the bears at bay. Marty goes into protective papa mode as soon as he spies a shivering Dallas.
After strategizing, the Seaveys and Raneys team up to tackle the dangerous shortcut together. Marty's route leads them on a tough portage through the forest and the terrain soon becomes too steep to carry their gear and kayaks. They decide to make one trip toting the kayaks and another for their hefty packs. The abandoned packs attract a bear, and Marty returns to discover his gear ransacked. He desperately yells and fires his gun into the air until he hears the unseen predator flee.
Happy as clams
Upbeat survivalist Austin Manelick, the youngest member of the crew, and pragmatic mountain guide Willi Prittie, the eldest member, make a perfect pair. They choose a longer route through a series of tributaries in hopes of avoiding bears, but they encounter an unexpected dam. As they haul their 85-pound kayak, Willi takes a nasty spill and strains his knee. Fortunately, they soon reach another waterway, giving Willi's knee time to recover while they paddle. The hungry men catch another break when they grab a small bounty of freshwater clams for dinner.
Although Brent and Tyler want to put their mishaps behind them, this leg immediately challenges them with a broken kayak. They eventually rig their ship and head into the water dead last. During a slippery portage, Tyler drops the kayak and breaks both paddles. As they try to assess the damage, an enormous brown bear approaches. Tyler's whoops and hollers shoo the wild animal, but the men know they are in constant danger. By day three, Tyler resolves to overcome the repeated setbacks and uses his engineering ingenuity to repair the cracked paddles.
The finish line
Thanks to Marty's treacherous shortcut, his group is first to reach Angoon. Willi and Austin arrive next, and the explorers enjoy a festive potlatch ceremony with the local residents. Everyone worries their teammates will miss another deadline, but Brent and Tyler arrive at the celebration with time to spare.
All eight explorers will continue to the final leg in the Juneau Icefield. Will they prevail over prolonged hunger, fatigue, and injuries to conquer the icy ridges?
"Ultimate Survival Alaska" airs Sundays at 9 PM on National Geographic.
- Sports & Recreation