Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

How Mountain Men's Marty Meierotto Saved A Life One Alaskan Winter

Marty Meierotto is a survivalist through and through — and his appearances on the first eight seasons of History Channel's "Mountain Men"  proved just how tough he can be. In the show, which is currently in its 11th season, Meierotto documented his life in Two Rivers, Alaska with his wife and daughter. The reality series showed how Meierotto flew to a cabin in eastern Alaska to tend to animal traps and collect furs for trade.

It was clear to viewers that Meierotto was not a man to be messed with, as he regularly worked in subzero conditions and operated machinery that other people wouldn't dare touch. Once on the show, he even fended off wolves on his own without a gun. Or, at least, that's what the show wanted viewers to believe

But as it turns out, one author discovered first-hand that Meierotto's survival skills were very much the real deal.

Author Bill Heavey followed Marty Meierotto into the wild and got lost

In a 2013 article for Field and Stream, author Bill Heavey described how he accidentally put himself in harm's way when he visited Marty Meierotto and followed him around in the Alaskan wilderness. After just three days with Meierotto, Heavey got lost in the brush and nearly froze to death. The only reason he survived was because of Meierotto's logical thinking and resilience.

"I'm sitting in the snow, having bailed off a snow machine just after it lost traction and just before it left the trail, coming to rest on its side in a drift a good 5 feet below grade," writes Heavey in the article. "It's my second fall in 10 minutes, which confirms my suspicion that I missed a turn. Marty would never have put me on anything this steep and with this much sidehill."

Then, in the negative 30-degree temperature, Heavey had to accept that he was lost and hope against hope that Meierotto would find him.

Marty Meierotto found Bill Heavey by following his tracks

Eventually, as Bill Heavey began to lose faith that Marty Meierotto would discover his tracks, he heard the sound of a fly ... which morphed into the sound of a snow machine. "If it's not a snow machine, the disappointment will be too much to bear," writes Heavey. "But now the buzzing grows. It is a snow machine. I see its headlight crest a rise below me in the distance. I'm saved."

Sure enough, Marty Meierotto appeared — and in good spirits. He clapped Heavey on the shoulder and asked him how he was doing. Apparently, Marty had seen Heavey's tracks several hours ago and realized Heavey had driven in the wrong direction. But Marty was still a couple of hours behind Heavey on the trail and only had limited fuel, so he retreated to his cabin and gassed up before going off in search of Heavey. 

All in all, the incident was a lesson in survival and perhaps a reminder that civilians should leave the Alaska snowmobile adventures to the mountain men. Speaking of which, "Mountain Men" is currently airing its eleventh season on the History Channel on Thursdays at 8/7c.