Stranded in an uninhabited area of Canada's Northwest Territories, two teenagers and an old Indian hunter face a winter so brutal residents call it ""The Hammer."" Gabe, 15, has come to boarding school in Yellow Knife to be nearer his oilman father. When his taciturn Athapaskan roommate, Raymond, quits school to fly back to his village, Gabe goes along. A spur-of-the-moment trip to see spectacular Virginia Falls turns into disaster when plane and pilot are swept away. Gabe and Raymond are left with a small cache of survival gear, plus a third passenger, Raymond's great-uncle, Johnny Raven, to keep them alive. Johnny teaches his two charges rudimentary survival skills, then finds them an old cabin in which to hole up before he dies. Weeks and repeated brushes with death later, the destruction of their food supply by a grizzly bear forces them into a grueling trek to Raymond's home. Although Hobbs (Beardance, 1993, etc.) doesn't write with the immediacy or meticulous attention to detail that Gary Paulsen brings to Brian's Winter (1996) or its prequel, Hatchet (1987), he summons plenty of uncontrived danger for his characters to face both foolishly and heroically. The conflict between modern and traditional ways is pervasive, as Raymond, a misfit in both worlds, struggles to find out who he is.