A Cessna float plane is chartered by a young woman for a scientific venture into the wilderness of northern Canada. Disaster strikes when their plane crashes and three people are injured and stranded in bitter cold. After the initial shock, hopelessness sets in, but Jim Peters is a full-blooded Ojibway and knows how to survive in the wilderness, as does Carlin, the pilot. The pair combine their skills and prepare for a life and death struggle against the worst conditions nature has to offer. This story is based on a true survival occurrence in Canada in 1952.