For Season 7 of History’s Alone, the intense reality outdoor survival show has really upped the ante.
In past seasons, approximately a dozen survivalists would sign up to outlast each other in remote areas of the world, including the Patagonia region of South America and isolated regions of Vancouver Island. The contestants are allowed to bring up to 10 items with them (a net, an axe, or a flint, for example), but otherwise they are left to fend for themselves as individuals. They have to build their own shelter, supply their own food and contend with the elements — and wildlife — all on their own.
This season, 10 participants are heading to the Canadian Arctic, among them Ontarian Kielyn Marrone. They’re vying for a whopping US$1 million, but they have to stay out there, and survive, for 100 days. A winter wilderness expedition tour operator based in Espanola, Ont., Marrone lives off the grid with her husband at a remote wilderness property that is only accessible by boat or snowmobile. Her living relies on her ability to take people into the most remote parts of Northern Ontario and Quebec, snowshoeing through the boreal forest for weeks on end, using traditional techniques and gear.
No contestant in Alone history has ever lasted 100 days. Global News spoke to Marrone over the phone about her experience in the Arctic (the show has already completed production, but no spoilers from Marrone!), what unique skills she thinks made her a strong competitor and the scariest experience she had out in the wild.
Global News: Is this something you wanted to do for a while? Why did you decide to try Alone?
Kielyn Marrone: It wasn’t on my radar. We have friends, brothers Jim and Ted Baird, who won Season 4 of Alone — they were on it, and as soon as I heard they were on it, I knew they were going to win. Watching the show, it inspired my husband Dave to apply, but we didn’t hear back.
So you were literally plopped down in the Canadian Arctic? When did the whole process start?
We were on the shores of Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories. We started on Sept. 18 of last year, so winter was already coming. Winter starts in October, so there wasn’t a whole lot of time to get ready for hunkering down in the winter.
“It’s go time!” [Laughs] Get your gillnet out, start getting some food. For months beforehand, you’re thinking about this day. I was trying to gain weight for the show because that’s another survival item if you can pack on some weight. I was drinking straight olive oil! I ended up gaining 20 lbs., which was all I could do. All this anticipation… and then once you get dropped off, it’s like every minute I’m closer to that goal of 100 days.
Do you have any unique skills that you think helped you through?
Yeah, our company — Lure of the North — specializes in traditional winter travel. Winter is our thing. We take people on expeditions, all the way up to three weeks, in this same climate, the boreal forest. You get the Arctic winds… and because Ontario has James Bay that drops down, the wind up here is very similar to that of Great Slave Lake.
That experience, and knowing what to expect from winter, allowed me to prepare with all of the clothing I made for the show. That was one of my biggest advantages.
[Laughs] Yeah, I don’t know if I can give away too much, but one of the toughest things for me was being away from my family. It wasn’t scary, but it was a huge challenge for me. I had some pretty cool wildlife encounters… but you have to watch the episodes to find out! [Laughs] The other participants also had some pretty crazy wildlife encounters too, so it’s going to be a really exciting season.
What would you say to someone contemplating watching this, but they’re not quite sold?
Because of COVID-19 and people struggling with isolation, I think this show is a really great reminder of what people can push through when they’re by themselves. It might be a good source of inspiration for people, and… maybe some relief for people, like, if this person can get through that, then I can get through this.