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Snowbound Alaskan survives on frozen beer

Quick drive ends in terrifying Coors Light ordeal

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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 home, he found himself stranded out of mobile phone range, and wearing just "tennis shoes, jeans and a $30 jacket from Sears".

The 52-year-old said: "I made an attempt at digging myself out and realised how badly I was stuck. I would have been frostbit before I ever got the thing out of there."

The normally well-supplied adventurer found himself without spare fuel, sleeping bag, food or water. He admitted: "I felt really pissed at myself. I shouldn't have been out there by myself unprepared for what I knew was possible."

Since his family was away on a trip, and he wouldn't be missed at work until he failed to turn up on Tuesday afternoon, a quick rescue was unlikely. Vial was obliged to crawl into a sleeping bag liner, wrap a towel around his feet and occasionally run the engine as protection against the -25°C cold.

He explained: "When I was just sitting there in my coat in the sleeping bag liner I would pull my arms inside my T-shirt to try and utilise my body heat as much as I could," Vial said. "That worked fine for some time, as far as keeping my torso warm and my arms. But my legs and feet where getting pretty cold."

He added: "I tried to sleep when I could, but I knew that I might not wake up."

Worse still than the prospect of an icy death, Vial's only nourishment came from a few cans of Coors Light, which he scoffed "like cans of beans". He recounted: "I cut the lids off and dug it out with a knife."

Vial's concerned fellow workers trawled Nome for his vehicle when he didn't clock in on Tuesday, and when he didn't show for a second day, his boss called in the emergency services. As the fuel gauge in the truck hovered ominously around empty, he was finally rescued on Thursday afternoon.

Although his legs "felt as if they'd been beaten", Vial escaped without frostbite, although he lost 16 pounds (7kg) as a result of the frozen Coors diet.

There's more on this chilling tale of beer-based survival right here. ®

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