On the third leg of Nat Geo's "Ultimate Survival Alaska," eight daring explorers are sent "Into the Void," where they must travel 25 miles through the snowy peaks of the Tordrillo Mountains to reach the rendezvous point within 72 hours. Only 200 yards into the journey, they encounter a major avalanche hazard and waist-deep snow. Unlike the previous Yukon adventure, this somber leg of the expedition promises constant peril and unrelenting weather.
Sketchy ice trekEager to reach lower elevations with milder weather, the explorers pool their resources. They gather enough gear to rappel down a 300-foot cliff one man at a time. To better their chances of survival, they break into three teams and spread out. Dogsledders Dallas and Tyrell Seavey watch as mountain man Willi Prittie is the first to rappel. Seeing a 40-mph gust slam Willi into the cliff shakes Dallas's confidence, but the team completes the descent.
A wind gust spins elite ice climber Tyler Johnson head over heels, pounding him against the cliff. He dangles like a ragdoll before eventually reorienting himself. Survivalist Austin Manelick makes a speedy descent, but visibility decreases with every passing second. Mountaineer Marty Raney, his son Matt, and dogsledder Brent Sass manage to rappel through near-whiteout conditions.
Food and lodging
Since there is no wood, the survivalists must use their ingenuity to withstand freezing temperatures overnight. Willi and the Seavey brothers choose a boulder as their shelter and methodically pack snow around the outside for insulation. Meanwhile, Tyler and Austin rest beneath a tarp, which nearly collapses under the falling snow.
Scarce food options cause some explorers to dine on dehydrated rations. Willi's group takes a calculated risk by choosing a longer path below the snowline. The four-mile detour pays off when he and the Seaveys feast on fresh blueberries loaded with sugar and vitamin C.
The finish line
Marty's group blazes toward Strandline Lake, but the 400-foot waters are gone! The water drained when an ice wall that acted as a dam melted away. Marty's team cuts through the vacant lake despite the melting ice and unstable icebergs. Later, they travel across the slippery Triumvirate Glacier, even though it is laden with seemingly bottomless crevasses. Using a centuries-old technique, his three-man crew uses a rope to link together. Theoretically, they will act as counterweights if anyone slips. Brent's torn shoe is the group's only casualty, and the men are first to reach the three waiting helicopters.
Willi and the Seaveys take a longer route and walk through freezing water to avoid the crumbling icebergs. They use crampons (spiked shoes) for better traction as they cautiously zigzag around the glacier's crevasses. Dallas inspires the team to make a daring leap to save time. They approach the extraction point in time to see Marty's team flying away.
After nearly falling into a hidden crevasse, Austin shows signs of hypothermia. Worried, Tyler tries to rewarm him by huddling together like penguins. They scramble across the glacier and manage to make it to the rendezvous point. Will Austin recover in time to travel to bear country?
"Ultimate Survival Alaska" airs Sundays at 9 PM on National Geographic.
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