Heimo's Arctic Refuge

Heimo's Arctic Refuge

2009, Society  -   41 Comments
Ratings: 8.71/10 from 75 users.

Heimo Korth has been a trapper for 30 years and he lives completely by his wits with a little assistance from the occasional bush plane.

He moved to Alaska when he was 19 to get as far away as possible from human civilization. He met his wife Edna while living in an Eskimo whaling village on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea.

Eventually he convinced her to move with him to the harsh Alaskan interior, more than 150 miles above the Arctic Circle and even farther from the nearest roads, supermarket, or schools.

Two of last people allowed to live in an area the size of South Carolina. Their nearest neighbor is about 100 miles away, and the only chance of emergency medical care is by calling the Army for a helicopter ride.

They've managed to raise a family out here while dealing with the fearsome climate, isolation, predators, and the drowning death of their firstborn daughter.

The Korths migrate annually between three separate cabins. Rotating cabins keeps them from depleting the resources in any one spot and ensures that there should always be enough fur and meat available for them to make it through a winter.

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K Day
5 years ago

Maybe Francis,
I'm curious if you could pick 1 ingredient from your breakfast, eg. and tell me:
- how many miles did it travel to get to you
- what were the processes involved in growing it
- what are the wages of the farmers
- if you eat meat protein, where and how are your animals handled and what are they fed? - and what is in the feed that feeds them? corn vs grass eg...
- what are your survival skills? if the lights went out tomorrow, eg, you couldn't charge your iPhone?
Curious; You seem so offended. Ever been, near there?

K Day
5 years ago

John Krisfalusci,
Colleen was their first born daughter, died at age 2 swept down river, the only thing they found of her was her l'il boot... she would have been 27, would have been her 28th year... I don't recall seeing the tombstone part, that story choked me up...

Kathy Hanson
6 years ago

Love the show.I think Edna should wrote a book about her and Heimo's life there. She should write a cook book.

6 years ago

Love the series, especially The Korths since Hiemo was from Wisconsin where I grew up and have lived my 61 years of life. They are survivors in the true sense of the word. I always dreamed of living that lifestyle but it's way too late for me. Maybe in another life. I wish them a bountiful and safe life until the end. Thank you for sharing this wonderful documentary.

6 years ago

Thirty years ago, the Korths lost a child in a river accident when she was 2.

6 years ago

John Krisfalusci , colleen died when she was 2. she WOULD HAVE BEEN 27 when this was filmed, is what heimo said. he did not say she died at 27.

7 years ago

If you're NOT a pantywaist sissy, this episode will make you PUKE. Why would anyone watch a "reality" program about living in the wild and want scenes blurred out/censored? If you want that kind of programming, I suggest you just stick to watching the cartoon channels.

8 years ago

You have to ask yourself why it is that everyone who is against hunting, or firearms in general is completely ignorant and dismissive of ALL the facts relating to hunting or firearms .

8 years ago

Willfully ignorant I might add..

8 years ago

For someone to reduce this doc down to some absurd expression of male superiority, or equate the complete harvest of wildlife resources to some out of control act of brutality is utterly rediculous and a good example of politically correct crazyness by an ignorant , dillusional public. Bon appetit :-)

8 years ago

Way to go. Excellent documentary. Good way to live.

8 years ago

This doc is mostly about slaughtering. You can choose isolation without being a predator. Their presence there is simply disturbing.

Timothy Petty
9 years ago

What an interesting fulfilling life those two must have with one another. They both seem very satisfied, Not complaining or wanting for anything but a full belly and a warm place to sleep. Personally love the idea but form personal experience i know i cold not do what those folks do. Would like to see more about this couple and the enduring life they have.

10 years ago

Well, this was interesting.
Edna and Hiemo are very resourceful and intelligent people. It is amazing how they have adapted to their environment and can make use of everything they hunt and gather, Edna was raised that way, fortunately for her husband.
Edna was a very good sport to go off and live in the middle of nowhere with just Hiemo for company. She must have missed her family and community terribly, but she never mentioned it.
I don't think Hiemo missed anyone, except when he lived all alone the first few months, many years ago when he first went out there.
I 'm assuming Edna gave birth to all her children in one of their cabins. Lordy, can you imagine?
They have a dog, but he is their "bear alarm" and is kept tied up at all times. Their previous dog was eaten alive.
My little dog sleeps under the blankets against me and would still let me know if a bear was coming.
The Alaskan/Arctic landscape was impressive and majestic. Miles and miles of snow- covered forest and mountains; clean gorgeous water, endless blue skies.
Really beautiful scenery and two unique individuals.
The steaks and salmon looked scrumptious!
The moose and caribou heads did not.
Weak stomach alert: I was very grossed- out near the end, watching the bear and bunny skinning business.

10 years ago

The very premise is false: he's not surviving "alone" at all as he's found a wife. A perfect example of how the sexist Vice documentarians exalt the male and almost-disappear the female perspective, as I guess half the planet barely deserves a mention from them. The only contribution she makes, I guess, is to enhance his stature as a male, and how could he be truly a male if he didn't have a live sex toy to objectify? My irritation was so great I couldn't even watch the whole thing. I took some refuge by learning something about Vice as a company, as I'd seen another one or two of their documentaries that had been similarly non-acknowledging of any female contributions (but not quite as blatant as this one). Yep, the company seems as faddish and self-aggrandizing as this doc...or penis-worshipping, if you prefer.

10 years ago

so, Belinda... are you 100% vegan? If not, you are kidding yourself.

10 years ago

Under such adverse conditions -I believe- we humans preserve "the original goodness" which we lost, along the path, due to some "butterfly effect".

Thank you for your documentary.

10 years ago

To each his own, having said that I do not respect anyone who thinks trapping is a good thing for any reason. Hunting and fishing for ones survival is natural and I have nothing against that but to hunt an animal for it's fur, to sell for money in order to perpetuate a life style one has decided to lead, is wrong. As far as the dog goes, there are as many thoughts on the role our domesticated canine plays in the lives of humankind. I for one honor and love Dog and Wolf and all life on this plant. I feel sorry for anyone who will capitalize on unnecessary death of any of our Earthly relation just to enjoy a certain way of life.

He talks of tribes and civilization, of our natural resources on this planet as if he is doing something right for them by living off the land. Truth is he is not living off the land, he is living off the wild animals who belong to the land. He is not sharing, he is dominating. This is the old story of man versus nature. This old way of life, thanks to human evolution, will soon be a thing of the past.

10 years ago

Thank you. Qui an ak. Mossi sho.

10 years ago

Envious of the Solitude,,,

Carl Hendershot
10 years ago

Looking for more info on this vid.

10 years ago

As humans we often tend to think our experience of the world is universal, which is completely understandable because what we experience ourselves is all we have to base our intuitive understanding of the world on. The problem is that this simply isn't true, what we experience is simply that and nothing more, it is entirely subjective and has very little to do with someone else's experience of the world. This man states at about 44:42 that no one could possibly love an animal as they do a human. This is simply not true and if this is what he needs to tell himself in order to not feel guilty he really needs to rethink things in my opinion. I live on a farm that is positioned right in the middle of a wildlife management area that is huge, I mean huge. Killing animals is a part of my life and has been since I can remember. I never had a problem excepting that life feeds on life, which is true regardless of what kind of food you eat. Not that i don't make a difference between vegetable and animal life, of course I do- everyone does. Anyway, my point is that even though I have had to kill animals all my life I have also loved dogs, deer, and even a pig as if they were human, no matter what this guy says.

The deer we have raised are really difficult because they get to a certain age and you have to release them back into the wild. If you don't they will literally kill themselves trying to get away. They all came from accidents, some had there mother killed by hunters and some had them killed by traffic. Since our farm is surrounded by the management area they asked us to raise them and then release them, its a state program. The pig was also difficult as we usually sell them to the slaughter for money, this is a farm after all. But i couldn't do that with Strawberry, I loved all 600 pounds of her like a child. I raised her on a bottle because her mother died and she turned out to be one of the best pets I ever had. Lots of people love their dogs so I won't go into that one, its "normal" as they say.

10 years ago

Nice. It would be even nicer if they did a follow up story about where they are & how they are doing now. Those journalist boys were just with them in the north for a week in the fall. That couple stayed & lived through the winter & several since I'm sure. Always interesting to get a glimpse of life on another page from what I am living & especially people who choose hardship over comfort & convenience for a quality of life that is essentially long past & at best enjoyed or endured by very few in this day & age.

Even the majority of Inuit now live in towns & have modern conveniences, snowmobiles, trucks, community centres, neighbours, stores & such.

Carl Hendershot
10 years ago

WTH is up with Thomas.... How is he now... He seemed a bit confused after visiting Africa's cannibal war lords. I would just say tweaking coke heads. Than again every american thought is hated even though it is truth at its best.

Carl Hendershot
10 years ago


10 years ago

They had me 100% with this one, right up to l'ours Grand écorcher et la décapitation and BUNNY STRANGULATION, at which point I must own I felt a considerable urge to put my powdered wig, waistcoat, and knee-breeches back on and hobble off to the familiar domains of drawing rooms and polite society.

10 years ago

Yes!!!! It's "Woody from Williamsburg". I missed you, man.

10 years ago

It's just too cold and messy. Blood, sticks, mud, wet mud and bits of dead thing all over the place. At least the snow makes it all look tidy again, a freshly laundered sheet over an old mattress. I'd maybe last a month at most but then I'd probably pine for a washing machine and radiators and Internet and other people. Think I'd miss people more than anything, I don't know enough about bears and beavers to keep the conversation fresh all winter. It is all very beautiful though and I'm glad there are at least two pairs of human eyes to see it, I'm fairly sure animals don't appreciate it the same way. It would be sad to think all those views were turning out in their finery every day and never being complimented for their efforts :)

Daniel Robinson
10 years ago

surely that is not the end?!