About Speaker Marty Raney…
Marty was raised off-grid. It seems he was put to work on the day he was born: not a lot of childhood memories that do not revolve around the unending duties of homesteading. Clearing land, chopping wood, feeding animals. No Disneyland photo albums. Their nearest neighbor lived one mile away and the most beautiful girl in the world lived two miles away. At age 16, he quit school, left home, and became a full-fledged, high-lead logger. Dangerous work.
In the mid-1970s at age 19, Marty married Mollee Roestel (that beautiful girl down the road). They ventured to Alaska and began their life together, living on an extremely remote floating logging camp on Prince of Wales Island. One year later, they found themselves on a 160-acre homestead in Haines, Alaska. Their homestead was off-grid, 100 miles from town. No roads: amphibious plane (termed “Floatplane” in Alaska) or boat access only. Their homestead was surrounded by massive Alaskan brown bears. Mollee fetched water from a salmon stream a few hundred yards from their cabin: dangerous. Their first child was born there. A few years later, they moved to yet another off-grid floating logging camp, 100 air miles from the small, coastal fishing town of Sitka, Alaska. No road access.
The mid-1980s found them 800 miles farther north in Alaska. Now with four children in tow (two boys and two girls), the Raneys began skiing, hiking, subsistence hunting and fishing, and adventuring the wilds of Alaska as a family.
Mountains have always played a significant role in Marty’s Alaskan life: subsistence hunting and fishing, climbing, and exploring. In 1986, he began guiding 21-day, major climbing expeditions up North America’s highest peak, Denali (elevation 20,320 feet). In 2010, Marty lost a client on the way back from the summit of Denali. He too, had four children. Tragic. Through the years, over 100 people have died attempting to climb this intimidating peak. Marty’s adventurous life has led to many close calls: He has survived a plane crash, a sinking boat, numerous avalanches, and a crevasse fall. Still, adventure calls both Marty…and his family. To date, the Raneys are the only family of six (husband, wife, and four children) who have all climbed Denali. Multiple times.
National Geographic Channel came to Alaska scouting survivalists for their new show, Ultimate Survival Alaska. Marty filmed 36 episodes, spanning the course of three years. The survivalists were sequestered during the 90 days of filming, sleeping under a tarp. No cabins. No hotels. No warm vehicles. Prior to this show, Marty was known in Alaska as an “all around survival guy,” as one news article summated. But television launched him into another realm of notoriety as an off-grid expert.
As logging was a seasonal occupation, Marty worked construction during the winter months, doing everything. With that varied skill set, he started his own construction company in 1982 and has been self-employed ever since.
It is this diversity of construction experience and survival knowledge that has led to being chosen as the host of Discovery Channel’s Homestead Rescue. There is no show like Homestead Rescue on TV. These are real people, with real needs, who really do live off-grid. The Raneys never meet or talk to the homesteaders prior to their first day of shooting. When they initially arrive, the homesteaders give them their backstory and tell them their needs. They spend 10 days with them, working non-stop. The goal is to leave them better off than they found them. In 10 days, peoples’ lives are being changed. From drilling water wells, to installing solar, wind, and hydro energy. The transformation of their homestead reboots the homesteaders’ dreams and inspires them to start anew.
After 43 years in Alaska, Marty is starting over…one last time. He is currently carving out his family’s new homestead out of a pristine, virgin 40-acre plot of Alaskan mountainside. No road access. A Class V river deems the homestead inaccessible. He built a two-person tram car that hangs from a 5/8-inch cable spanning the river. All materials are hauled over the river on the tram, which extends 285 feet from tree to tree (nearly the length of a football field), and then hauled on a trail for another 1,000 feet to their building site at the base of the mountain.
This is a new chapter in the Raney Alaskan legacy: an off-grid homestead truly built by hand. Authentic. As Marty says, “Alaska is better than fiction.”