Sarah Palin’s Fake Reality

Sarah Palin Doing Dangerous Feats of Outdoorsmanship! Not Hardly.

Craig Medred

Reality television, as most Americans know, is often less than real, but it appears still good enough to fool folk in the Big Apple.

In a belated review of the TLC cable network television show “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” the New York Review of Books somehow buys into the trumped-up idea that Palin risked life and limb filming in Denali National Park and Preserve last summer.

“Palin, who is both narrator and star of the series, performs arduous and sometimes even dangerous feats of outdoorsmanship to demonstrate the conservative virtue of self reliance. In the episode in which she struggles for a foothold on a vertiginously steep glacier at the foot of Mt. McKinley in eerily beautiful and vast Denali National Park … ” writes Janet Malcolm.

“Eerily beautiful and vast Denali National Park”? Yes.

“Dangerous feats of outdoorsmanship”? Not hardly.

Palin faced greater danger crossing the streets of New York City.

The whole time she was crossing glaciers and climbing rock (not a “vertiginously steep glacier”) in Denali, she was under the watchful care of guides from the Alaska Mountaineering School in Talkeetna. AMS owner Colby Coombs can’t talk about the film because he signed a confidentiality agreement, as did almost everyone involved with the production of the Palin show in Alaska.

Everyone, that is, except government employees who are prohibited from signing confidentiality agreements. National Park Service rangers and other personnel who monitored the activities of Palin and her producers in the park say no one involved with “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” was ever in any danger.

It is probably worth noting here that “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” did try to get employees of the Park Service, which had to issue a permit for filming in Denali, to sign the confidentiallity agreements. But they said “no,” noting that federal regulations generally prohibit them from engaging in secret operations.

A federal solicitor eventually wrote show producers a letter explaining the laws that would be violated, including “The Endangered Species Act,” if federal employee were to sign such agreements. It is hard to tell from the Park Service documents, which Alaska Dispatch obtained under the Freedom of Information Act last year, whether the reference to the “endangered species” act was supposed to be a joke or not.

Park service employees who monitored Palin’s adventure in the Ruth Amphitheatre told Alaska Dispatch that she was roped for safety, both when climbing and when glacier hiking. It is possible to fall into a crevasse when hiking on an Alaska glacier, but it rarely happens when traveling with experts in glacial route-finding. Still, everyone is always roped. The rope is like a seatbelt. It protects glacier hikers in the event of an accident, though most of the accidents amount to less than a fender-bender. Someone sticks a leg through the snowbridge over a crevasse, pulls it out and keeps on hiking.

Alaska Mountaineering, which teaches glacier travel safety and crevasse rescue has never lost a client in a crevasse fall. So much for that part of “dangerous.”

As for the rest, an AMS guide had Palin safely top-roped so she couldn’t fall anywhere when she climbed some rock above the Ruth Glacier. She might, however, have faced some teensy-tiny danger there. She could have gotten bopped on the head by a rock. Sources have told Alaska Dispatch that since “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” was filmed, Coombs has admitted to a few friends that he regrets giving in to demands from film producers that Palin climb the rock sans helmet.

Helmets are standard safety gear when climbing rock because of the danger of falling objects, but a helmet would have mussed Palin’s hair and obscured her pretty and apparently terrified face, a part of the story Malcom did get right in her reviewing for what Palin likes to call “the Lamestream Media.”

As Malcolm observes,

Forty-five minutes later (as a subtitle tells us), [Palin] is still clinging to the rock, helpless to take the next step up. “That’s so much worse than I ever thought it would be,” she groans. Finally, through a great effort of will, she manages to heave herself up to the pinnacle. “I don’t think that I have been that scared or that challenged in a long time,” she says, and we believe her. The episode has a realism not often seen in reality TV , and absent from most of the other episodes …

“…Manages to heave herself to the pinnacle….” Hmm. There again, unfortunately, not exactly.

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. WakeUpAmerica
    Mar 30, 2011 @ 20:20:53

    Palin don’t need no stinkin’ helmet or no stinkin’ seatbelt! God will protect her! Actually, a helmet would have been superfluous as they are generally used to protect a brain, hence the name “brain bucket.” And as we all know, Sarah’s brain is, well, pretty much non-existent.


  2. Xenon
    Mar 30, 2011 @ 21:09:18

    I have long argued that if there is one thing that kills reality, it is so-called “reality television.”

    Man, I wish Marshall McLuhan was still around…


  3. beth
    Mar 30, 2011 @ 22:15:13

    Her time for role play has come to a end.When you constantly defend yourself and let nothing slide your hiding something. She’d owed nothing, she’s gave nothing. No class. Something very horrible must have happened to her in her youth, she’s out to get everyone because it’s like getting back at that one person that made you this way.This woman has been so very unhealty for America, to want attention anyway she can get it and has got it. They’ll be a lot of boiled rabbits (Fatal Attraction) before this is all over with. She needs help mentally. I’m still lost for words. How parts of our country thinks she’s intelligent and has what it takes to be POTUS. Well all heck is going to break loose soon because now they think Baucham is their savior, cna’t wait for that bat-crazy fight.


  4. Diane
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 05:18:00

    One has to ask oneself,
    If she was elected POTUS would she do ANYTHING besides tweet her disdain for the mainstream media or disagreements with her policies?
    How would she have time for anything else?
    All her facebooks and tweets have to do with defending herself or criticism of POTUS Obama.
    She has no policy, she has no plan.
    She just criticizes others or defends herself against anybody that disagrees with her.
    She can’t do anything else. So, in essence we would have another bush.
    A token POTUS with others setting policy.


  5. Sarah Palin has a serpent's heart
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 10:10:55

    Like I said on Malias blog, $arah is like white chocolate, tantalizing at first, the more you taste it the less appealing she becomes, and fake!


  6. climber357
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 10:39:26

    Remember this gem of a tweet:

    ¨Todd,Willow & I head to Denali to climb Sweettooth=tiny sliver of Mt.McKinley, No.America’s highest peak;cool air &elevation=good 4 the soul¨

    sarah was called out immediately. I first read this tweet at

    ¨There’s only one problem: “Sweettooth” doesn’t exist on Denali. She might mean “Sugartooth,” but even then, climbers who know the area are scratching their heads. “Sugartooth” is a multi-day, highly technical climb on sheer rock; despite Palin’s ability to scale the ranks of Republican leadership, it’s unlikely she’s got the skills to send a “5.10b/c with short sections of A2, 16 pitches,” according to

    The Alaskan outdoor blogosphere is understandably taking Palin to task for 1) claiming to be an Alaskan mountain woman without even knowing the names of the places she’s going, and 2) exploiting their state in a selfish bid for spotlight. Some speculate she’ll fly in to the Ruth Glacier, take photos and go home. “Sweettooth = name of ridge you got wrong while trying to sound like a mountain woman,” went one criticism.¨

    Lordy, she needs to get a clue….


  7. Cathi
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 14:27:46

    she makes perfect sense politically – she is intelligent. i think it’s funny how many criticize her – look at all she has accomplished. can you say the same about your life? like her or not she does have a message when it comes to the economy and the likes of government. instead of criticizing every little thing she says wrong or the manner in which she says it, listen to what she is saying. with all that is happening the party affiliation has nothing to do with it. the current administration and what they’re doing should have you at least as upset as this reality show bunk does.


    • Syrin
      Mar 31, 2011 @ 16:59:20

      Thank you for your comment. It’s been a while since someone actually tried to defend the indefensible! Sarah has been given a false credibility, she’s a fraud, and that is dangerous when speaking in terms of policy, that affects real people! Have you ever heard the saying ‘talk is cheap’? What accomplishments belong to Sarah? Abusing power to fleece her own pockets, to make a name for herself using the state of Alaska resources?Making sense to you is someone parroting others opinions, others narrative. Most thinking people have a sense of where they stand on important issues and don’t want an idiot to ramble on about things they do not even know about! (Sarah is a fraud, not having ever demonstated living what she says) Palin has done nothing to advance conservative values or ideals and has had absolutely no hand in helping or forwarding a genuine, reasonable and competent resolution and understanding of any issue that we face as a nation!!! She’s done just the opposite!! She’s made a mockery out of everything she’s touted!


  8. Maurice Stewart
    May 31, 2011 @ 10:32:25

    $Sarah$ Palin knows exactly how to make money using the very media she claims she despise.!


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