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TV show offers $500,000 to last contestant in NWT wilderness


The sixth season of Alone, a US reality series, debuts on Thursday – with the East Arm of Great Slave Lake as the backdrop.

The survival show airs on History. This season marks its most northerly location to date.

Ten contestants, dropped off alone in the NWT wilderness, will battle to remain alive on the land for as long as possible with limited equipment.

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The last person remaining once all other participants have “tapped out” will win a grand prize of $500,000.

Casting for the show began back in February 2018.

Barry Karcher, a 39-year-old contestant on the show, told the Fort Collins Coloradoan he felt his Kentucky upbringing had prepared him for the challenge.

“In Kentucky, it’s just what you do,” Karcher told the newspaper. “You learn how to set a trap, you learn how to hunt, you learn how to deal with poor conditions out in the country.”

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The newspaper said TV producers emailed his wife every two weeks to let her know he was still alive. It’s not clear how long he actually lasted in the show (taping has now finished) – that’s kept a secret until all episodes have aired and the winner is revealed.

Contestants are warned that the season may last for up to a year, depending on how they and rivals fare. So far, no season has lasted longer than 87 days.

Participants are dropped off far enough apart from each other that they will not come into contact, and given sets of cameras to document what happens to them.

Regular medical check-ins take place with each contestant. Participants leave the show either by voluntarily asking to end their wilderness vigil, or by failing a medical.

Contestants arrive in the NWT courtesy of Buffalo Airlines for season six of Alone.

Contestants arrive in the NWT for season six of Alone.

The territorial government’s Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment said the NWT Film Commission had acted as a first point of contact for History’s production team, “assisting the production team with logistics and helping familiarize them with the territory.”

Łutselkʼe was used as a base of operations for producers, with the permission of the Łutselkʼe Dene First Nation, the department said.

“The fact more high-profile guest producers are choosing the Northwest Territories is a testament to how far the territory has come,” the department claimed, pointing to other recent productions such as a well-received Toyota RAV4 advertisement.

Joining Karcher in the show are six other men and three women. The oldest is 55-year-old Tim Backus of Lubbock, Texas, while the youngest is Michelle Wohlberg, 31, from Mullingar, Saskatchewan.

Wohlberg, one of two Canadian contenders, told the National Post: “I sent in a video of me doing farm chores, where I’m carrying five-gallon pails of water, freezing. I went camping in the winter time in a literal blizzard. This is just how I live. This is just an everyday sort of thing for me.”

She is reported to have started her own business, teaching survival skills, since filming ended.

The other Canadian competitor on the show is 44-year-old Nikki van Schyndel, from Echo Bay, BC.

According to the National Post, contestants may select 10 items from a pre-approved list to accompany them into the wilderness.

Van Schyndel chose an axe, saw, knife, sleeping bag, paracord, pot, trap wire, fish hooks, a Ferro rod, and a bow and arrow.

A contestant with a bow and arrow in the NWT wilderness during season six of Alone

A contestant with a bow and arrow in the NWT wilderness.

She described to the newspaper how the necessary task of filming her experience began hindering her fight for survival.

“It’s so hard to set up three cameras while you’re trying to hunt,” she said. “You’re stuck behind the lens and you’re not fully engaged in the moment. You need to be fully engaged in the moment to survive successfully.”

However, she added: “I had some fundamental changes out there that are inexplicable. I became a new person.”

Alone’s sixth season premieres on History at 8pm MT on Thursday, June 6.

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