Menu

Life Below Zero

Series 3From Tuesday 15 September at 22:50

ABOUT THE SHOW

A battle against the elements

What does it take to survive life in an extreme environment?

Life Below Zero follows seven people as they battle for the most basic necessities in one of the least populated states in the US – Alaska.

Living in the middle of nowhere, miles away from the nearest road, they battle snow storms, man-eating bears, frozen terrain and limited resources through the long, cold and lonely winter. When spring comes, it's a race against the clock to collect enough food and supplies to see them through the next freeze.

Some of them battle the elements alone; others have their families beside them.

Only the mentally fit will be able to endure the extreme test of isolation and endless work required to survive in this remote and merciless land.

These are the stories of the everyday struggles of life below zero – where one wrong decision could cost you your life.

Facts

The word ‘arctic’ comes from ‘arktikos’, which is Greek for ‘near the bear’. It refers to the two constellations Ursa Major (Great Bear) and Ursa Minor (Little Bear), which can be seen in the northern sky.

The Arctic Circle is one of the five major circles of latitude on maps of our planet.

The Arctic Circle is the farthest southern region that experiences polar day and polar night. A polar day is 24 hours of continuous daylight, and a polar night is 24 continuous hours of darkness.

Winter temperatures in the Arctic can drop to below −50 °C (−58 °F).

The position of the Arctic Circle is not fixed. This is because it directly depends on Earth's axial tilt, which fluctuates within a 2° margin over a 40,000-year period.

The land on the Arctic Circle is divided among eight countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, the United States (Alaska), Canada, Denmark (Greenland), and Iceland.

Very few people live north of the Arctic Circle due to the extreme conditions. Despite covering 6% of the Earth’s surface, the total population is only 4 million.

If all the Arctic ice melted, the sea levels would not rise considerably because the ice floats on the Arctic Ocean. However, if all the ice sitting on land melted, that would be a different story. Scientists predict that if Greenland’s ice sheet melted, the sea level would rise by 7.2 metres (24 feet).

Despite being the smallest of the world’s five oceans, the Arctic Ocean is larger than you may think. It spans 5.4 million square miles (14,056,000 km2) across Earth, which is almost the size of Russia.

Characters

Life Below Zero

Sue Aikens

Sue Aikens is the lone resident of Kavik, a town that lies about 32km (20 miles) from the Arctic Ocean on Alaska's North Slope. The closest city lies 805km (500 miles) to the south and the nearest road is 129km (80 miles) away. The town is only accessible by plane.

Sue has lived in Alaska for 30 years and has been the warden of Kavik River Camp for the last six. The camp is a base for hunters, hikers and researchers who wish to explore the arctic terrain.

Sue is a tough cookie. She lives alone so if the electricity generator goes down, as it often does in the extreme weather conditions, there's only her around to fix it.

Although she considers animals her friends, Sue is aware that she lives in bear country, not the other way around.

Outside of hunting season, Sue faces the freezing temperatures, penetrating winds and savage bears all alone, and realises that if something bad were to happen, there is no one to help her.

Her motto is, "If it hurts, don’t think about it." This was certainly put to the test when a grizzly bear attacked her six years ago and left her for dead – she had to sew her own head and arm together and wait for 10 days before help came.

Life Below Zero

Chip and Agnes Hailstone

Chip Hailstone and his native Inupiaq wife, Agnes, live with their seven children on the Kobuk River in Noorvik, north-west Alaska.

Chip grew up hunting and fishing and is a skilled hunter. He came to visit Alaska 25 years ago from Kalispell, Montana and although he did not plan to stay, he never left.

Chip’s motto is, live for the day but plan for tomorrow. Chip says that worrying is the first step to protecting himself and everyday he takes a calculated risk. Part of living off the land is being ready and going with nature’s flow, weather, and available materials.

Chip’s family moves seasonally to track down the best hunt and they each play an active role in keeping the family alive. The family use the entire animal that they harvest, even turning the skin, teeth and bones into arts and crafts that they can trade and sell.

Chip is happy to have stumbled his way into this world and call it home.

Life Below Zero

Glenn Villeneuve

Glenn Villeneuve moved from Vermont to Alaska in 2000 to pursue his dream of living close to the land. He lives in Chandalar in the Brooks Range, the northernmost extension of the Rocky Mountains, lying at an elevation of 571m (1,873ft).

It's 322km (200 miles) north of the largest city, Fairbanks, and a 96km walk (60 miles) from the nearest road. Isolation comes with the territory and Glenn can often go more than four months without seeing another human.

Glenn opts for the simple life and lives in a one-room cabin with no running water. He cuts his own firewood and only uses electricity for a few items, like a satellite phone, headlamp, and camera. He travels by foot, snowshoe and canoe to hunt moose, caribou, small game and fish. He shares his hunting territory with wolves and he was once charged by a pack of 20.

Glenn values his simple lifestyle that affords him a close connection with the natural world that surrounds him.

Next on...

Episode 15, Series 6

Sunday February 17 at 11:25

The Thaw: The Great Changeover

Sue rips out her old kitchen to build a new one. The Hailstones go picking for vegetables. Ricko takes his kids out for a fishing trip and Jessie goes beaver hunting. 15/22

Episode 15, Series 6

Sunday February 17 at 18:50

The Thaw: The Great Changeover

Sue rips out her old kitchen to build a new one. The Hailstones go picking for vegetables. Ricko takes his kids out for a fishing trip and Jessie goes beaver hunting. 15/22

Episode 15, Series 6

Sunday February 17 at 23:45

The Thaw: The Great Changeover

Sue rips out her old kitchen to build a new one. The Hailstones go picking for vegetables. Ricko takes his kids out for a fishing trip and Jessie goes beaver hunting. 15/22

Episode 4, Series 6

Monday February 18 at 08:20

Arctic Harvest

In the clutches of Dark winter, Alaskans face uncertain conditions caused by unseasonably warm temperatures. But the warmth won't last, and opportunities must be seized. Sue Aikens…

Episode 4, Series 6

Monday February 18 at 13:55

Arctic Harvest

In the clutches of Dark winter, Alaskans face uncertain conditions caused by unseasonably warm temperatures. But the warmth won't last, and opportunities must be seized. Sue Aikens…

Episode 5, Series 6

Monday February 18 at 19:30

Home Again

Sue experiments with a primitive hunting method for ptarmigan. Andy adjusts the new puppies to his sled team. Ricko discovers bear sign in his cabin. The Hailstones take baby Wade to…

Episode 5, Series 6

Tuesday February 19 at 00:30

Home Again

Sue experiments with a primitive hunting method for ptarmigan. Andy adjusts the new puppies to his sled team. Ricko discovers bear sign in his cabin. The Hailstones take baby Wade to…

Episode 5, Series 6

Tuesday February 19 at 04:15

Home Again

Sue experiments with a primitive hunting method for ptarmigan. Andy adjusts the new puppies to his sled team. Ricko discovers bear sign in his cabin. The Hailstones take baby Wade to…

Episode 5, Series 6

Tuesday February 19 at 08:10

Home Again

Sue experiments with a primitive hunting method for ptarmigan. Andy adjusts the new puppies to his sled team. Ricko discovers bear sign in his cabin. The Hailstones take baby Wade to…

Episode 5, Series 6

Tuesday February 19 at 13:45

Home Again

Sue experiments with a primitive hunting method for ptarmigan. Andy adjusts the new puppies to his sled team. Ricko discovers bear sign in his cabin. The Hailstones take baby Wade to…

Episode 6, Series 6

Tuesday February 19 at 19:35

The Great Unknown

Sue assesses the conditions of her new property at Chena River. Ricko traps for beaver. Jessie trains new puppies for the dog team. Agnes, Edward, and Idi embark on a wood gathering…

Episode 15, Series 6

Tuesday February 19 at 22:50

The Thaw: The Great Changeover

Sue rips out her old kitchen to build a new one. The Hailstones go picking for vegetables. Ricko takes his kids out for a fishing trip and Jessie goes beaver hunting. 15/22

Episode 6, Series 6

Wednesday February 20 at 00:25

The Great Unknown

Sue assesses the conditions of her new property at Chena River. Ricko traps for beaver. Jessie trains new puppies for the dog team. Agnes, Edward, and Idi embark on a wood gathering…

Episode 6, Series 6

Wednesday February 20 at 04:30

The Great Unknown

Sue assesses the conditions of her new property at Chena River. Ricko traps for beaver. Jessie trains new puppies for the dog team. Agnes, Edward, and Idi embark on a wood gathering…

Episode 6, Series 6

Wednesday February 20 at 08:35

The Great Unknown

Sue assesses the conditions of her new property at Chena River. Ricko traps for beaver. Jessie trains new puppies for the dog team. Agnes, Edward, and Idi embark on a wood gathering…

Episode 15, Series 6

Wednesday February 20 at 10:15

The Thaw: The Great Changeover

Sue rips out her old kitchen to build a new one. The Hailstones go picking for vegetables. Ricko takes his kids out for a fishing trip and Jessie goes beaver hunting. 15/22

Episode 6, Series 6

Wednesday February 20 at 13:55

The Great Unknown

Sue assesses the conditions of her new property at Chena River. Ricko traps for beaver. Jessie trains new puppies for the dog team. Agnes, Edward, and Idi embark on a wood gathering…

Episode 15, Series 6

Wednesday February 20 at 15:35

The Thaw: The Great Changeover

Sue rips out her old kitchen to build a new one. The Hailstones go picking for vegetables. Ricko takes his kids out for a fishing trip and Jessie goes beaver hunting. 15/22

Episode 7, Series 6

Wednesday February 20 at 19:40

A Lesson Learned

Sue gathers resources at her property in Chena. Ricko must repair a vital communications tool in Huslia. Jessie goes on a rabbit hunting trip. Chip and Carol hunt ptarmigan. 7/22

Episode 15, Series 6

Wednesday February 20 at 21:15

The Thaw: The Great Changeover

Sue rips out her old kitchen to build a new one. The Hailstones go picking for vegetables. Ricko takes his kids out for a fishing trip and Jessie goes beaver hunting. 15/22

Episode 16, Series 6

Wednesday February 20 at 22:00

The Thaw: The Nightmare

The Hailstones pull together to build a footbridge. Meanwhile, Jessie goes fishing while looking out for some good spruce trees and Ricko has his children over to stay plus an extra…

Episode 7, Series 6

Thursday February 21 at 00:25

A Lesson Learned

Sue gathers resources at her property in Chena. Ricko must repair a vital communications tool in Huslia. Jessie goes on a rabbit hunting trip. Chip and Carol hunt ptarmigan. 7/22

Episode 15, Series 6

Thursday February 21 at 01:15

The Thaw: The Great Changeover

Sue rips out her old kitchen to build a new one. The Hailstones go picking for vegetables. Ricko takes his kids out for a fishing trip and Jessie goes beaver hunting. 15/22

Episode 16, Series 6

Thursday February 21 at 02:00

The Thaw: The Nightmare

The Hailstones pull together to build a footbridge. Meanwhile, Jessie goes fishing while looking out for some good spruce trees and Ricko has his children over to stay plus an extra…

Episode 7, Series 6

Thursday February 21 at 04:25

A Lesson Learned

Sue gathers resources at her property in Chena. Ricko must repair a vital communications tool in Huslia. Jessie goes on a rabbit hunting trip. Chip and Carol hunt ptarmigan. 7/22

Episode 7, Series 6

Thursday February 21 at 08:15

A Lesson Learned

Sue gathers resources at her property in Chena. Ricko must repair a vital communications tool in Huslia. Jessie goes on a rabbit hunting trip. Chip and Carol hunt ptarmigan. 7/22

Episode 16, Series 6

Thursday February 21 at 11:00

The Thaw: The Nightmare

The Hailstones pull together to build a footbridge. Meanwhile, Jessie goes fishing while looking out for some good spruce trees and Ricko has his children over to stay plus an extra…

Episode 7, Series 6

Thursday February 21 at 13:50

A Lesson Learned

Sue gathers resources at her property in Chena. Ricko must repair a vital communications tool in Huslia. Jessie goes on a rabbit hunting trip. Chip and Carol hunt ptarmigan. 7/22

Episode 16, Series 6

Thursday February 21 at 16:20

The Thaw: The Nightmare

The Hailstones pull together to build a footbridge. Meanwhile, Jessie goes fishing while looking out for some good spruce trees and Ricko has his children over to stay plus an extra…

Episode 8, Series 6

Thursday February 21 at 19:35

Into the Storm

Sue must build new furniture from scratch. Ricko traps a dangerous foe. Jessie constructs a new workshop. The Hailstones journey through a treacherous storm. 8/22

BBC Earth

Be curious. Be inspired. Be amazed.

What's on now

Get it on...

Denmark – Canal Digital DTH: 38 | YouSee: 63
Finland – Canal Digital DTH: 26
Norway – Altibox: 48 | Canal Digital Cable: 25 | Canal Digital DTH: 37 | GET: 51
Sweden – Canal Digital DTH: 25 | ComHem: 36 | Sappa: 31