back to article Snowbound Alaskan survives on frozen beer

An Alaskan man who ill-advisedly went for a drive without adequate emergency supplies and got stuck in a snow drift was obliged to subsist for three days on nothing more than frozen cans of beer. Clifton Vial left Nome, on the Bering Sea, in his Toyota Tacoma last Monday night for a quick jaunt north. Some 40 miles (64km) from …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    "he lost 16 pounds as a result of the frozen Coors diet"

    Wow, these Coors Light sure work a treat!

  2. Trygve Henriksen

    Coors light?

    Sounds like a fate worse than death...

    Also, winter emergency gear should stay in the vehicle all winter. Never take it out!

    (I have an old Army-type kapok-filled sleepingbag, chemical hand warmers, chemlights,a couple of foil blankes, glowes and other stuff, too. all stuffed into a big bag. Kapok, not just because it was cheap, but also because it still works if it gets wet... )

  3. Wortel

    This guy certainly is very lucky.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      fate worse than death...

      Too true, didn't anyone ever tell him to "never eat the yellow snow" ?

    2. Code Monkey


      Lucky to have a shedload of beer in the car.

      To add "... even if it was American pish" would be churlish.

    3. Jimbo 6

      "emergency gear should stay in the vehicle"

      Indeed, only an idiot would have

      1) taken all the emergency gear out,

      2) bought Coors Light, and

      3) (according to the linked news site) "climbed into the cab of his Toyota Tacoma Monday night in Nome to see how far a road winding to the north would take him" in ALASKA !!! at the end of FRIKKIN NOVEMBER !!!!

    4. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Luck had little to do with it

      He knew what to do and how to do it. Sure, he made a mistake, don't we all, but once he knew he was stuck, he followed the survival guide as best he could and he hung on.

      As far as luck was concerned, I'd say he had a string of bad luck. First, he didn't think to take the necessary precautions, knowing the dangers. Second, he got stuck out of mobile phone range. Third, his coworkers didn't get around to seriously worry about him until Tuesday, instead of Monday afternoon.

      He survived the ordeal not because he was lucky, but because he had the training to deal with it - even on a bare minimum of resources.

      His one bit of luck was most likely the fact that the temperatures were not in the -40°C.

      Of course, most of the rest of us would probably have ended up as a popsicle, even with top-notch gear.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Luck had little to do with it

        I don't understand your downvotes. The journey might have been ill-judged however his reason given might not be the whoke truth, family away, surprise trip to his mistress, what's he going to say? Lame excuse but often they are the best.

        Once in trouble he did the right thing as best he could.

        1. Goat Jam


          Stop trying to make sense of them, you'll just do your head in.

      2. Rob

        Pandantic minor correction

        Your mention of the string of bad luck, the first point wasn't bad luck it was stupidity.

    5. Ross 7

      I always thought Canada and the UK were pretty different,but going out with a slab of tinnies and a knife is pretty much normal in the UK too!

      Although on the other hand going out in the UK with all that gear you have in the boot would likely get you nicked for going to a terrorist training camp. No bugger else is that well equipped in Blighty. If you've got GPS and a total inability to read a map you're set for going up a mountain (apparently)

      1. Hollerith 1

        Alaska is USA

        I think you'll find the chap involved was American, in an American state. Canada does not have ocean-front on the Bering Sea.

        Speaking as a Canadian, my vehicle always, always had emergency supplies, modified for the season. Even summer in the muskeg of northern Alberta can be a dangerous place. Ah, happy days...

  4. Bill Fresher


    16 pounds in three days? -- dehydration?

  5. IglooDude

    He's right - he was an idiot for not being more prepared for driving out in the Bush, and he's lucky to be alive.

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Simply being cold burns a lot of calories...

    2. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      @ Bill Fresher

      First, bear in mind that I am neither physicist nor physician, but I wouldn't wonder that his body was actually burning more calories melting the frozen low-cal beer than were *IN* the beer.

      It may have given him a feeling of fullness and a (slight) alcohol buzz, which may have given him some sense of well-being and kept his blood pressure down, but since eating the icy beer would have lowered his core temperature -- causing his body to work harder to warm it back up, which is why survival guides recommend against eating snow (of any color) as a way of assuaging thirst in an emergency situation -- AND opened his capillaries -- making his skin surface FEEL warmer but radiating body heat away in the process -- my guess is that he survived in SPITE of the beer, rather than BECAUSE of it.

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      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Mike Moyle

      >my guess is that he survived in SPITE of the beer, rather than BECAUSE of it.

      In the absence of any other liquid the beer was essential .You try going three days without liquid and see how you feel.

  6. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Coors light....

    is only palatable when you have run out of all other options.

    Here's to real beer, mine is a Westmalle Tripel

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Matthew Anderson


        Slangevar :-)

    2. D@v3


      I've been craving a Tripel recently, but not sure where I can get one from in my parts.

    3. Drew V.

      Mine's a Westvleteren Tripel.

      I had to fight off mad dogs and Belgians to get my hands on this one bottle, though.

  7. disgruntled yank Silver badge


    His beer selection seems to be in line with the rest of his planning.

  8. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

    What a twit

    He drove off wearing nothing much, on an expedition in winter, to "see how far a road winding to the north would take him". I think he probably drank several crates of beer before he set off....

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Citizen Kaned

    in the UK

    the police would find him and nick him for being over the DD limit....

    even in the UK i have a sleeping bag, gloves and hat in the car. last year's bad snow meant i had to dump my car and walk home.

  11. Paul RND*1000
    Thumb Up

    "wrap a towel around his feet"

    SEE! The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy is right! Knowing where your towel is == sure fire way to survive anything.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    perhaps he was really only out a couple of hours, driving under the influence, crashed and when the cops turned up he pretended he'd been stranded for days living off beer.

  13. Axe

    I Call BS

    If the coors had frozen in the cans and he had to dig it out with a knife the inside of the car must have been well below zero.

    (Given that the alcohol in the beer will have lowered it's freezing point)

    he spent 3 days sat in a below freezing car with minimal insulation ?

    The cold would have got him and he'd be dead, much more likely he ran the engine for 3 days with the heater on to keep warm (hence the lack of fuel when found) and he embelished the story with frozen beer and only turning the engine on once a day (even though it was only on for 23 Hours 45 mins)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Could someone please find

      the freezing point of tinned coors light?

      1. Helldesk Dogsbody

        Given that the freezing point of a 5% beer is ~ -4.5 C a guesstimate would put Coors Light (3.5% gnat's piss IIRC) at about -3.1 C. That's based on the freezing point of water being reduced by 1.8 C per mole of additional substance. Apparently the carbonation makes a difference but it's definitely possible to completely freeze real beer in a household freezer that which runs in at about -17 C. Even extremely gassy near beer should freeze at a much higher temperature than that. That's pure guesstimation as I've had a few too many tonight to do the maths correctly!

        As it's Nome in November I have no idea how cold it actually was but I'd assume that "quite parky" comes close. Actually, the guy sounds very lucky that he had any ethanol as the calorific value is quite high. If it had been a case of A N Other soft drink he'd probably have lost even more weight.

    2. Franklin

      "If the coors had frozen in the cans and he had to dig it out with a knife the inside of the car must have been well below zero."

      Careful reading of the article reveals that the gent in question was driving a Toyota Tacomah, which is not a car, it's a pickup truck. One potential possibility, then, is that the beer was being carried in the back, in which case it'd be quite frozen regardless of the temperature inside the car. And if that's the case, even bringing it into the cab wouldn't allow it to melt if he was only running the engine the bare minimum necessary, as it takes quite a long time for frozen cans of beer to melt*. Even assuming their starting temperature is only as cold as a normal freezer** rather than, say, the temperature of Arctic winter.

      * Don't ask me how I know this.

      ** Or, err, so I 've heard. Yeah, that's it.

    3. Mark 65 Silver badge

      A normal domestic freezer (think fridge-freezer combo) will easily freeze "heavies" (5% abv) solid in the space of a few hours. These normally run at around -20C. It states it was -25C outside and like not a great deal warmer inside the vehicle especially if he was conserving fuel - seems he didn't really have enough in the first place as idling doesn't use much.

    4. Anonymous Bosch

      Alcohol - theres no alcohol in Coors Light

      Nor is there any taste - and this from a Merkin...

    5. Jean-Luc Silver badge

      >I Call BS #

      I call pedant.

  14. JanMeijer

    Why didn't he use the tyres?

    I'm wondering why he didn't use his car differently. It has 4 things that burn for a long time giving off a trail of smoke easily detectable at long range.

    Shovel and newspapers (isolation) pluss extra gas, 100% required in winter. A snow hole would have kept him warmer....

    Skol to him though for living through it :) Multiple days shivering in cold is no fun I'm sure.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I bet he was glad to get back

    there's no place like Nome

  16. Kernel Silver badge

    @ I Call BS

    No, even normal beer is about 95% water, I'd hate to thick how little alcohol is in Coors Light - and normal beer will happily freeze in a domestic freezer.

  17. Dave 32

    Truckload of Beer?

    Maybe he had the beer in the back of the truck. I know it's a strange concept, but a lot of Americans like their beer cold (as opposed to the European tendency to drink warm beer). And, keeping the beer in the back of the truck, when it was 25 below, would insure that it was quite well chilled. Plus, you can fit a lot more cases of beer in the back of a truck than you can in the cab.


    P.S. Now, where did I put my towel?

  18. Rombizio


    If he had some Guinness cans instead, he would have gained weight. That thing is a meal. He picked the wrong beer to carry in his car. Actually, I think he picked the wrong beer regardless.

  19. Efros

    Coors Light

    referred to as Canoe Beer after the famous, "what do American Beer and making love in a canoe have in common?", "They're both fucking close to water!", joke.

    1. bumpy

      Beer bashers

      OK, I'll fall for the bait and step up to defend "American beer" (a sweeping generalization). Yes you'll find watery crap going by that name but we also have 1,000's of excellent beers. If you visit the U.S. just ask around a bit!

      1. Efros

        I live there mate

        And you are correct, but the 1000s of excellent beers very rarely make it to the other side of the pond. They generally get the watery crap. Hence the canoe beer.

      2. LateNightLarry

        Beer bashers...

        Seems like every town of 5,000 population has it's own brew pub, when the proprietor conjures up a selection of locally brewed beer... actual beer rather than Coors Light horse piss... Most of them, or at least the ones I've been able to try, have been pretty decent. Even those in the heart of the "wine country".

        I'll still take wine over beer when I have a choice, but since El Reg doesn't give me a choice, I'll have a glass of ale.

  20. Burch


    Is there anything it can't solve?

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Beer


      1. Kool-Aid drinker
        Thumb Up

        Re: Re: Beer

        ...but a nice single malt can enhance its problem-solving capabilities.

        1. JudeKay (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: Re: Beer

          Mmmm, Lagavulin...

  21. Zoob

    He sure dodged the silver bullet

  22. cf
    Paris Hilton

    7kgs in a few days, and you get to drink/eat beer? Don't tell your girlfriend - you will be sent up ther en mass.

  23. Identity

    Oh, no, not Coors Light!

    It would have been nice if he'd had some beer!

  24. Mako

    Even for a trip up the snow-bound M1 in winter I carry blankets, stout boots and a thermos full of sweet tea in the car with me.

    I can't imagine having such a disrespect for nature as this assclown evidently does.

  25. Schultz

    Go prepared

    and load some proper (German) beer. Would have been more nourishing and surely far more fun than the substitute the poor guy brought along.

    And why didn't he thaw the beer within his clothes? I know the 'mericans regularly overdo it when it comes to cooling drinks, but chewing sounds a bit extreme. Although with Coors light, the trick might be to swallow before the stuff thaws.

  26. Blubster

    "he lost 16 pounds as a result of the frozen Coors diet"

    Probably gave him the shits.

    As the Profanisaurus might say "After I ate all that Coors Lite I could shit through a sponge"

  27. Kirbini

    Jacket from Sears?

    Based on his level of preparedness, who wants to wager that the jacket sported a "Members Only" logo?

  28. Morpho Devilpepper

    Not even real beer

    Eww...Coors Light?? I would rather have survived on antifreeze and swatches of upholstery. Not that I'd survive long, but I'd die with some pride remaining...

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