Throughout the years, History channel’s “Mountain Men” has gained a very important place in our lives, by giving us an idea of what reality TV actually means. However, while we love seeing people successfully living off-the-grid, it’s undeniable that this lifestyle makes the show’s cast sometimes even more unreachable than regular television stars.
Getting first-hand information or constant social media updates from the stars of “Mountain Men” is somewhat of a hardly achievable goal, which also means that knowing for sure if they’re well or even still alive is difficult. This is the case of the mountain man Marty Meierotto, whose apparent plane crash has awakened a wave of speculations on the internet.
Are these rumors true or false? What happened to Marty? Keep with us to know all details about Marty’s life, his well-being and the reason behind his exit from the show!
Did Marty Crash His Plane?
It’s common knowledge for any “Mountain Men” fan that Marty Meierotto flies a Piper PA-18 Super Cub, which is a monoplane model which stopped production around the 1970s.
Though Marty is a pilot skillful enough to take his vintage aircraft anywhere, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t face problems from time to time. In the third season episode “Closest Calls” aired in 2014, Marty is seen taking ‘a nosedive’ while flying his plane. Although the incident fortunately didn’t kill him, it was enough to leave him stranded in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness with virtually no means to survive a wildly cold night.
Just like the expert survivalist Marty is, he got out of that terrible situation safely, but it will remain as one of the most enduring situations the audience ever saw him going through.
Other than that, there are no further records of Marty ever crashing his plane, or having such severe problems with his aircraft.
Why Did He Leave The Show?
As one of the original survivalists featured in “Mountain Men”, it shouldn’t surprise us that Marty Meierotto was a fan favorite through and through. That also means his fans were heartbroken to know that he was leaving the show in 2019.
Although sometimes TV stars prefer to leave details about their exit from TV shows in secrecy, this is fortunately not the case of Marty. As he explained in the episode “Final Farewell” aired in 2019, the eight seasons he spent in “Mountain Men” were very precious to him, but he needed to put his priorities in place, and spend more time with his then 13-year-old daughter Noah: ‘I thought a lot about it, and that’s the decision I made, it’s gonna be the best for her and family time and all that’.
While no one is surprised Marty that put his family first in this matter, this doesn’t mean he didn’t consider his time on TV as valuable: ‘I’m glad we got to tell a story, and I hope it’s helped people understand what it’s really like out here’, he said, though he also clarified that his compensation from the show wasn’t related to money or fame, but to know he gave something back to the world, just by being a trapper.
Did He Retire Altogether?
Though Marty Meierotto is no longer in “Mountain Men”, he’s still a survivalist in Alaska. Nonetheless, his life indeed has recently gone through some drastic changes career-wise.
As it happens, in late 2019 Marty officially retired from the Alaska Fire Service as a radio traffic pilot, an occupation he had had for five years then, and which allowed him to prevent the spread of wild fires in the Alaskan bush.
Given his time with the organization and his countless contributions to preserving the environment through his work, Marty was honored by the Alaska Fire Service with a celebration attended by over 100 people – family, friends, neighbors, those who knew him from his days in the smoke-jumping academy back in the 1990s and many others: ‘he was a character from the start, had everyone laughing.’ (…) ‘A great dude who lifts up the morale around him, usually by making fun of himself’, said John Lyons, Marty’s former co-worker.
Interestingly enough, Marty retired from the Alaska Fire Service for almost the same reasons he left “Mountain Men”. As Marty said back then, he wanted to spend more time in the woods: ‘I’ve been in this state for 30 years, and I’ve barely scratched the surface, it’s so immense. It’s pretty neat’.
Life As A Mountain Man
The centuries old mountain men tradition really has an important role in the history of the US.
By opening trails, helping immigrants from the east and contributing to the expansion of commercial routes, the mountain men of the 1800s played a vital role in the construction of the country we know nowadays.
While today’s trappers and survivalists who follow this lifestyle don’t necessarily have to do the same things as their ancestors, keeping this tradition alive is a big deal in itself, which Marty Meierotto knows very well. Though he’s a native from Wisconsin, his first experiences outdoors date to as early as when he was eight years old, when his father taught him the basics about trapping.
Almost two decades later, in 1985 Marty took his few belongings and moved to Alaska, with almost no money in his pocket. Three years later, he had become familiar enough with the place to eventually move to a log cabin 200 miles from civilization, establishing there his trapping and hunting base.
Marty doesn’t spend the entirety of his year in that cabin, but his years of experience have given him huge renown in the field, winning the award of Trapper Of The Year by the Alaska Trappers Association in 2001, in addition to be named “Alaska’s toughest trapper” by the magazine Field and Stream in 2013.
Unbeknownst to many, Marty Meierotto is a published author. His book “In the Land of Wilderness” was released in August 2020 and got positive reviews everywhere. Described by John Daniel from the National Trappers Association, the book ‘is filled with true life adventures that reflect both the joys and hazards of living in the remote Alaskan Bush’.
To promote his work, Marty started a Facebook fan page which not only featured information about the book, but also kept his fans updated on signing events, radio appearances and fan meetings related to it.
Apparently, “In the Land of Wilderness” wasn’t just a self-biography recalling all his years up in the Alaskan mountains, but actually included his best tips about survival, trapping, hunting, and basically all the information that his most devoted fans had been waiting for.
The book was approved and sold by the Alaskan Trappers Association, to which Marty has belonged for decades, and written several online articles for. Though it’s unknown how profitable “In the Land of Wilderness” actually was, just by taking a look on Marty’s social media we can tell that his fans deeply loved his writing, and even asked for a second book.
Did He Save a Reporter’s Life?
One of the most popular incidents involving Marty Meierotto was the time he saved a reporter who was stranded in the Alaskan wilderness. It all goes back to 2010, when the journalist Bill Heavey visited Marty’s cabin for a report about the life of trappers in Alaska. Though Heavey was guided all the time by Marty, he couldn’t keep up with him even after three days of expedition.
At some point, both men went out to explore a trapline some miles away, but sensing that he couldn’t physically continue with the trip that day, Heavey convinced Marty to let him go back to the main cabin alone. Marty instructed him on a safe route, to avoid accidents or finding an unwanted predator, but Heavey’s snow machine lost traction on his way back and took him out of the trail, making it impossible for him to go back on track.
Right then Heavey realized he would most-likely die that night when the temperatures lowered without him having a refuge or fire. Luckily for Heavey, Marty was able to find him on his way back, though Marty argued that he wasn’t in real danger anyway: ‘It wasn’t a life or death thing; I was going to find him regardless, but from his perspective it was. He was pretty rattled about it,’ he told Field and Stream magazine.
Where Does He Work?
Given that Marty Meierotto rose to fame thanks to “Mountain Men”, it’s unsurprising that many people believe he spends most of his time trapping, which isn’t necessarily true.
As it happens, Marty was a summer firefighter prior to leaving the job in 2019. Back in 1988, he joined the Chena Interagency Hotshot as a firefighter, sticking solely to that job before attending the Alaska Smokejumper academy in 1994, graduating as one of only four students who actually made it until the end that year.
Despite Marty’s toughness and more than impressive survival skills, everyone who knew him back then affirmed his lighthearted attitude put everyone at ease, even during the worst situations: ‘He was the heart and soul of that rookie in ‘94. He’s a great dude to have on your side’, Marty’s former classmate Todd White said in a 2019 interview.
Marty worked as a smokejumper for several years until 2014, when he took the job of an airway traffic reporter for the Alaska Fire Department. His job consisted of flying around Alaska, searching for possible wild fires and reporting his findings through the state’s radio.
All in all, Marty is definitely more than what “Mountain Men” let us see.
Appearing in eight seasons of “Mountain Men” is Marty Meierotto’s only known stint on TV. However, the first time he attracted the attention of the media was in 2010, when Bill Heavey released that famous article in which Marty is described as his lifesaver.
Though it’s unclear if that article was exactly what gained him a spot in “Mountain Men”, Heavey said in 2012 that it was likely: ‘It’s possible that my story led the History Channel to Marty. I may have helped open the door, but Marty was the one who walked through it’.
While Marty’s writing has always been featured in online blogs related to trapping and survival, his first and most important feature in the media besides his appearances in “Mountain Men”, is definitely when he was on the cover of the 2010 February issue of Field and Stream, the magazine taking a deep interest in him following his expedition with Heavey.
Being on the magazine’s cover took Marty by surprise, but he brushed it off with a sense of humor: ‘I felt like one of those bikini models for a little while, but I didn’t have a powder guy’ he said, after revealing the landscape on the cover is just his cabin’s backyard.
How Is It For Marty To Be A Mountain Man?
As expected, being a mountain man is nothing like what most people get to experience in their whole life. Besides requiring a lot of skills, self-awareness and knowledge about the environment, it’s also necessary to be resilient, courageous and focused, to adopt such a lifestyle.
However, sometimes the path gets a little too tough even for experts like Marty. As he affirmed in an interview with Trapper Magazine, factors such as the fleeting fur prices and an unstable financial situation take a toll on him from time to time: ‘I find myself frustrated and mutter those very words, ‘this just isn’t worth it’’.
Nonetheless, those fleeting moments of weakness eventually fade away when he reflects on what’s really important: ‘I think of the way my time in the field has changed the very person that I thought I was, always, I think, for the better’. Pondering on what really drives him out in the woods isn’t the only way to overcome his negative thoughts, as he considers that ‘the grace of God’ plays an important role in how resilient he is too.
Is “Mountain Men” Fake?
For some time people have been wondering if what they see in “Mountain Men” is real, as the suspicions that some scenes might be faked or staged for the sake of reality TV are always lurking in the background.
Though Marty hasn’t personally addressed these suspicions, a 2013 article written by Bill Heavye, the same reporter Marty saved a couple of years prior, affirmed that many of the things presented in the show were ‘painfully’ fake, including the problems Marty apparently faced while flying his plane: ‘The guy I met would never have freaked out. He would have calmly found a way to deal with any problem, and then set about solving it’.
Does this mean everything in “Mountain Men” is faked? Not by a long shot, but those declarations could shed some light on the reasons Marty had when he decided to leave the show, years into the future.