October 14, 2013

National Geographic Channel’s Cult Hit Series Life Below Zero Returns With New Episodes Following Six Alaskans As They Emerge From Another Brutal Winter With Only One Thought On Their Minds: Getting Ready For The Next One

When Winter Ends, The Hard Work Begins

Life Below Zero: The Thaw Premieres Tuesday, October 29, at 10 p.m. ET/PT

Washington D.C. — For many around the globe, spring is a time of new growth, with flowers in bloom, warm weather and summer vacations on the horizon. But when you’re an Alaskan, the end of winter doesn’t mean the challenges are over; in fact they have only just begun.  Wildlife are waking up from hibernation—and they’re hungry; snow and ice melt are causing the waters to rise…and then fall dramatically; and the race is on to assemble supplies and rations before the next winter settles in. Starting Tuesday, Oct 29 at 10 p.m. ET (following the premiere of the new season of Doomsday Preppers), the National Geographic Channel will again give viewers a no-holds-barred look at the daily trials of six Alaskans with Life Below Zero: The Thaw.

As described by the New York Daily News, “in a country that still has a warm spot for the pioneer spirit, there’s no place it feels more alive than on Life Below Zero,” this series goes inside life of true Alaskans living on the last frontier.

Though it’s more than twice the size of any other state, Alaska is a vast wilderness. Its population is scattered far and wide, with only 1.2 persons per square mile. Few would argue many Alaskans are some of the toughest, most self-reliant people in the world. It’s not by chance, it’s by necessity. Life Below Zero: The Thaw features a time of year not always part of what we see in Alaska – spring!  The ice is breaking, the animals are waking, and our stoic, Alaskans face a new set of tests as the clock ticks down until the cold sets in again.

Sue Aikens, living 197 miles north of the Arctic Circle, has just become the sole proprietor of her home, the Kavik River Camp. Though she’s alone at the camp for nine months of the year, the summer brings visitors who use the camp as a jumping off point for expeditions into the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. When not running her camp, she’s racing to get her camp ready for business, fill her freezer with meat before hunting season ends, and warding off unwanted furry friends. Through it all she never loses the Sue charm that viewers fell in love with.

Chip and Agnes Hailstone take full advantage of the flooding waters. Along with their seven children, they take a vital fishing trip hundreds of miles north to catch fish they’ll use for trade, sales, and to eat over the next several months. As with everything else, coming back empty-handed is not an option.

Andy and Kate Bassich spend the summer hard at work on their homestead. After safely getting their 26 dogs, and a new 2-ton saw mill to their home on the mighty, dangerous and overflowing Yukon, they set to work building a greenhouse that will yield 80% of their food supply for the entire year. They too are bothered by unwanted visitors when a hungry black bear wanders on to their property, and are faced with the classic dilemma: eat or be eaten.

Glenn Villeneuve is a primitive subsistence hunter living 60 miles from the nearest road. He has no power, no running water, and no heat except for the wood he chops. Everything he does comes from his own blood, sweat and tears, and he lives 100% off the land.  For Glenn, every day’s to-do list is crucially important, as failure to collect wood, water or food will leave him cold, dehydrated and starving – the perfect meal for the pack of 20 wolves he shares the lake with.

For each person in Life Below Zero: The Thaw, life is stressful, taxing and tiresome—and the only way to live.

Life Below Zero: Hunt Or Be Hunted
Premieres Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 10 p.m. ET/PT
With winter over, and the ice melting, remote Alaskans face new dangers and deadly challenges in the changing season. In Eagle, wildlife waking from their months-long hibernation pose a new threat to Andy and Kate, who must “eat or be eaten.” Chip and Agnes take advantage of the post-ice-break-up flooding to try and capture beavers and river rats forced from their homes. The fur they could provide will be a valuable commodity for trade, but the pursuit itself is much more difficult and dangerous than they expected. For Sue in Kavik, it’s a race to pack her freezer with meat before bear season closes. Otherwise she’ll be desperately low on meat next winter. New cast member Glenn is left with a perilously low cache of food, so embarks on a quest to find caribou.

Life Below Zero: The Meltdown
Premieres Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT
During the summer months, Sue’s camp in Kavik is generally busy with visitors who use the location as a launch point for expeditions into the wilderness. But the rapidly melting snow is encroaching on her runway. A flooded runway means no supplies and no business. In Noorvik, Chip and Agnes and their kids embark on a vital fishing trip hundreds of miles north. Everything they catch will be used for trade, selling and consumption. They only have a few days to set their nets while the fish swim toward unfrozen waters, and a boat breakdown puts their timeline in peril. Andy is a talented carpenter, and has just purchased a two-ton saw mill to help with projects at his home in Eagle. Getting the saw mill to his home is a whole other story, as he must bring it by boat on the treacherous Yukon river. In Chandalar, Glenn finds his water supply compromised by the local wildlife. Combined with the close of big game hunting season, it’s going to be an uphill battle just to survive.

Life Below Zero: The Mess of Success
Premieres Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 10 p.m. ET/PT
Sue, and her new staff member Rick, are almost ready for their paying guests to arrive at the Kavik River Camp. Just a couple details left to be dealt with: a lost filter for her water line and a missing shipment of frozen food. Without running water and food, her camp won’t open in time, which could devastate Sue’s livelihood. In Eagle, Andy and Kate are building a greenhouse that they hope will yield 80 percent of their food supply for the year. Summers in Alaska are a short growing season, and summer storms are brutal, so time is short to get the crops they need or their winter supply will be in limbo. Agnes, who is of Inupiat heritage, embarks on a natives-only seal hunt. The meat and oil of the Oogruk, Alaska’s largest species of ice seal, are an essential source of energy for the cold winter—meaning they can’t afford to go home empty handed. Firewood is a hot commodity for Glenn in Chandalar, being that it’s his only means of heating water to drink, bathe or do laundry. He sets out on an overnight mission to collect wood, but a broken axe cuts his trip short, and leaves him anxious to get back out chopping.

Life Below Zero: Hungry Country
Premieres Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT
In Chandalar, Glenn is running perilously low on food. His only option is to take to the waters and fish, but vicious mosquitos, and fish that aren’t taking the bait, make it a bigger hassle than expected. Sue is startled by a strange shadow on the horizon, but after heading into the tundra to investigate, she finds nothing. Determined not to have let her efforts go to waste, she heads to a nearby coal seam to try and gather some of the “black gold.” Chip and Agnes are at their summer camp, teaching their daughters to set nets and collecting firewood to get their house heated through the summer. The Yukon River continues to be challenge for Andy in Eagle when he discovers that one of his valuable boats has been swept away by the powerful water. Refusing to be defeated, he heads out on a long search to find the prized vessel, hopeful that it hasn’t been destroyed.

Life Below Zero is produced by Adjacent Productions for National Geographic Channel. Executive producers for Adjacent Productions are Elli Hakami, Travis Shakespeare and Jane Tranter. For National Geographic Channel, executive producer is Kevin Mohs; executive vice president of programming and strategy is Heather Moran; and president is Howard T. Owens.