"There's one thing I would like you to keep in mind: Karma. You see, it's not always about whether you win or lose, it's about how you play the game; and sometimes, what goes around, comes around."
— J.D. Roth introducing this season

Balance is the Key
Season 5, Episode 1
Aired October 14, 2006
Mission Balance is the Key
Winner Aric, Alex, Darci, Kelsey (through the free pass)

Lilly, Taylor, Kristine, Cealey (through the Right to Stay)

Eliminated Martina, Stefanie, Adrian, Rafael
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Balance is the Key is the first episode of Endurance: High Sierras.

Episode OverviewEdit

Twenty teens travel to a secret location to compete. Once there, they begin the Right to Stay competition that will send 4 of them home.

Summary Edit

The fifth season of Endurance begins as 20 teenagers from around the country journey into the High Sierras, all hoping not to leave until they have earned the title of Endurance Champion. After a long trek (and a fall or two), the group finally makes their way up to the ridge, where JD is awaiting their arrival. He welcomes the group and warns them about the adventure they are embarking on. Not only do they have nature to contend with, but they will also have to accomplish things they never thought apossible and, ultimately, beat out the other players standing next to them. JD reminds the contestants that to win, they will have to get all 13 Endurance pieces. And this year there is one more element they should keep in mind: karma. How they play the game is going to be just as important as who wins it. The group is a little perplexed, but very excited to hear that no one will be going home this first day! JD sends them to go check out their lodging and says he will see them tomorrow.

The kids run off to discover their new home and are amazed to see that they will be living in treehouses! They excitedly run through the huts, claiming bunks and exploring all the levels of “the most awesome treehouses ever,“ as this year’s huts are quickly dubbed. They also discover a crow’s nest lookout point and a large wooden swing. They are all ecstatic to be there, and no one wants to think about anyone going home the next day.

In the morning, JD gathers the group together and gives them a clue about their first challenge: the right-to-stay mission. They will need speed, agility and balance … and four people will be going home! All are saddened by this news, but JD has the first of many surprises up his sleeve. One boy and one girl will be granted a huge advantage today — a free pass to avoid the right-to-stay mission! The catch this year is that the girls will choose the girl and the boys will choose the boy.

Once JD has left the contestants to make their decisions, the girls quickly and efficiently decide that the fairest method is to cast a silent vote. Each girl writes down her vote, and they end up with a tie between Kelsey and Darci. The girls decide to have a revote between those two girls. Kelsey, Cealey and Martina all cling onto each other while they await the result. Darci easily wins it - capturing all but one vote. Darci is very surprised and all congratulate her. Kelsey sheds a few tears, but Darci tells her to use this as motivation in the game.

With their vote complete, Taylor leads several girls to check on what the boys are up to. There has been nothing but chaos surrounding the vote in the guys’ hut. They bicker about the best way to decide, and matters become worse when the girls insert their opinions on how to make the decision. Adrian is convinced that he wants the pass the most and should therefore receive it. Eventually, Dakota has a brilliant idea: “Let’s pull names out of a hat!“ The group argues over whether drawing randomly is fair, but ultimately decides it is the easiest way. Who will be the lucky one?

Finally, JD gathers the group together to hear their decisions. The girls announce that they have chosen Darci, and the guys announce that Aric will receive the free pass. JD congratulates the first two official players of Endurance, but he has one little extra twist for the players. He reminds them of his warning about karma and announces that Darci and Aric will now be able to return the favor and grant one more free pass each! The kids are completely caught off-guard and start yelling out suggestions for who to pick. Darci tells JD she’s giving it to Kelsey, since they had a tie-breaker. As the guys await their fate, Adrian appears nervous and hopeful. But Aric surprises everyone when he chooses Alex. Adrian is crushed and feels betrayed. JD congratulates the four players who get to skip the right-to-stay mission, but warns the others that they must now earn their spots on Endurance.

The group gathers at the water, and JD explains the mission. Each player will have to walk on balance beams over the water to complete five laps back and forth. The last two players to finish the course will be automatically eliminated. The girls will be competing first.

The girls’ game begins. Right away, several of the girls fall in, proving that this mission is a lot harder than it looks. They all struggle to complete their first laps. Kristine is the first to finish, followed quickly by Lilly, then Taylor. Stefanie, Aeriel, Martina and Anna are having a lot of trouble even making it to the first landing. Soon, Lilly emerges as the clear leader, gracefully finishing each lap without ever falling in the water! She finishes the entire game minutes before some girls even have their first lap, securing her spot on the show. Gradually, other girls complete the game: Taylor, Kristine and Cealey respectively all become official Endurance players. It comes down to the fight for the last two spots: Aeriel, Anna, Martina and Stefanie must find a way to endure their exhaustion to claim a spot in the game.

Game PlayEdit


In Balance is the Key, all the competitors have to walk on thin balance beams over the lake, and complete 5 laps across and back. If they fall, they have to climb up and keep going.

Production NotesEdit


  • Taylor: "I'm here to show that I can be physical, and that I'm not just some preppy, little girl who's stuck up."
  • Stefanie: "People might think that I'm weak because I'm small, but looks can be deceiving."
  • Alex: "My enthusiasm is what usually makes me stand out, so I like to come out as a leader."
  • Dakota: "Everyone tells me that I'm a really funny guy, so I can live with that."
  • Martina: "I'm very versatile— if I can get a good partner, then hopefully I can make it far in this game."
  • J.D: "There's one thing I would like you to keep in mind: Karma. You see, it's not always about whether you win or lose, it's about how you play the game; and sometimes, what goes around, comes around."
  • Lilly: (about arriving at the treehouses) "I was walking in the back of the group and I heard people in front of me screaming— I was thinking 'They're just huts'; but when I saw them, I was like, 'Oh my God, they're so cool!'"
  • Cealey: (describing the treehouses) "They're so pretty; two stories high, and we have a tree inside our hut!"
  • Dakota: "We're in a cabin!"
  • Darci: (to Kelsey after the outcome of the silent vote) "Take this as motivation: you're going to do amazing at the Right to Stay."
  • Kelsey: "When you get your hopes real high and they're just smashed, it's one of the worst feelings anyone has to go through."
  • Max: (regarding Adrian acquiring the free ride) "He tried out four years for this!"
  • Dakota: "Let's pull names out of a hat!"
  • Rafael: "Who doesn't agree to randomly?"
  • Adrian: "I'm really upset that Aric got the free pass, only because he was just a name pulled from a hat— if it was a vote, I would've had it in the bag..."
  • Aric: (after sparing Alex from the Right to Stay) "He was like, the first guy I bonded with."
  • Taylor: "I think a few others could've used that free ride more than Kelsey, especially Stefanie— she's extremely nervous about the upcoming game."
  • JD: (after describing Balance is the Key) "It's not just about coming in first; it's mostly about not coming in one of the last two spots."


  • The concept of Karma was introduced in this episode.
  • At the episode's end, 8 contestants have been made official Endurance Contestants; four by the free ride.
  • Second time where the Right to Stay challenge was made into a two-part episode.

External LinksEdit