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I must admit I am rather new to Ice Road Truckers and the channel its on, our tellies in Northampton unable to pick up Channel Five since its creation back in the early 1990s, our screens looking like a Monet painting with the occasional fuzz of colour in the static. But in the spring we were frogmarched by the government with our arms behind our backs to the TV aerial shop and told to have digital. Now we have cable we no longer go short on something to watch, the hypnotic banality of the One Show and ITV no more, my fingers on the remote control tapping away more than a teenager texting her girlfriends after being chatted up by the lushest boy in school!
Picking up the show on the current season there isn't much snow and ice around this time, the drivers featured normally driving the dangerous ice roads of Alaska in all seasons. But the show is now bestowed with enough reality TV celebrity status to earn the right to move the wining formula to pastures new, the conditions in the Sub Continent for this series that exact opposite of the ice hard straight roads of Alaska. Yes Alaskan roads are treacherous and the danger money high but Indian roads are insane and poorly kept and one mistake and your off the edge and no more. I certainly can't see a series of Celebrity Ice Road Truckers any day soon although it would be nice to see some of our celebrities try it. It's a truly terrifying experience for the drivers on the twisting and crumbling Rohtang Pass.
Indians are by far the worse drivers in the world and someone dies on the roads every 4 minutes there. Their unique caste system seems to be the driver for this, if you can excuse the pun. If you kowtow to your superiors the Indians are told by their scripture that when they die they will come back as the next caste up, keeping everyone firmly in their place. So if you are near the bottom of the caste waste tip then why worry how you drive and where you drive as better things beckon when your car or truck shears off a 1000ft drop in a fireball of flames and tumbling twisted rusted metal?
The mountainous roads the guys and girls are driving claim a life every 17 hours and the wrecks litter the canyons below like a warzone. The American ice truckers are driving it for real and their life is clearly on the line here, a reality show like no other I have seen. They are driving old rickety Indian trucks too, clunky manual gearshifts and repairs done on the hoof. If you lose your transaxle in the mountains you walk home matey. In the west the environment is forced to adapt to humans whereas in the third world the environment is in complete charge.
Our drivers are as you would expect, mostly baseball capped, tattooed burley truckers, who swear a lot and like a beer after work. But one of the number is not, sexy tomboy Lisa Kelly, a gorgeous 20 something college dropout with a lovely figure who just so happens to drive 40 tonners across Alaska for a living. And she is not a token totty ringer either, a genuine trucker and really rather plucky for a girl although I'm sure cast for the show to inject some crumpet for the glamour contrast amongst the fat ugly truckers. You can't help fall for her though. Even though she is too pretty for the career choice she is not full of herself and likes the company of guys, her frail frame somehow not out of place in the dusty foothills of the Himalayas. In fact she became the first ever ice road trucker to complete the whole series. Off set she is an adrenaline girl, dirt-biking and hand gliding her thing and married to a likewise rugged Inuit.
Rick Yemm is the more bearable of the male drivers whilst the others fit the Jeremy Clarkson ideal of lorry drivers, looking like serial killers and practising macho slobs. Rick enjoys the cameras in his own way, a blue Mohican cut sitting atop his empty head. Alabama trucker Dave Redmon is not particular likeable and the sort of bloke who would have a lady of the night in his cab at a truck stop. The other guy in the series failed to even get out of Mumbai after suffering two accidents with the crazy Indian drivers and gave up and went home. What's the point of six weeks more of this chaos was his mantra. He was probably right.
The stars of the show are the wobbly headed Indian 'spotters', co-drivers who get out of the truck on the treacherous narrow roads to guide the American drivers through the worse bits, which include crumbling roads and narrow wooden bridges, as well as arguments with the locals and evading falling boulders and the dreaded squeezing by fellow trucks on roads made for just one wagon. One of them has to be right on the edge and one or two go over every day. It's rather odd the Indians don't just let one-way traffic down these passes on one day and then the other way the next day to cut the accidents? But, like I said, life and death seems not to matter much in India and just a lay-by to the next life for their crazy drivers, 198,000 deaths and one million injuries there alone last year! They seem to be pretty stupid people.
The plus about this show is its full on and there seems little faking, although the editing occasional suggesting its far worse and the odd staged scene of a truck going over the side to heighten the tension to suggest what could happen a bit tacky. But these American guys and girls could easily die on the show and fair play to their macho nature to put on a show for us. It's a little disappointing that the Indian people in the show are portrayed as two dimensional peasants although the often tetchy relationship between them adds to the flavour of the show.
Its broadcast on Monday nights on C5 at 8pm and repeated on Sunday nights.
This has to be one of my favourite programs on tv at the moment. It is currently shown on a Tuesday night at 8 o'clock. I even allow my son to stay up to watch it with me as he finds it really interesting and is amazed by what they have to do.
It is a reality programme that follows a small group of around 6-8 truckers that work out in Alaska. Their job is supposedly one of the most dangerous in the world not only in the trucking industry but also compared to other life threatening work.
What they have to do is haul various different supply loads along a treacherous three hundred and fifty mile road, which consists of frozen lakes, mountains and deadly drops. The supplies they are delivering are for the billion dollar mines and rigs that can only have supplies brought out to them for two months of the year whilst the lakes are frozen thick enough. If they don't get the supplies they require in this time it could be disastrous for their business and lives.
During the show we are taken on the supplies runs by various newcomer and veteran ice road truckers. These truckers haul as much as they can in the short two month time frame and can earn up to around three to four hundred dollars if they perform well and do enough runs. The high pay packet is what attracts them to take on such a dangerous and deadly job. Each driver can only drive for a maximum of sixteen hours at a time due to regulations and a typical haul takes fifteen hours, so time is of the essence when they are stuck in bad weather, as losing time means losing money.
The main people we spend our time with are Hugh Rowland, Alex Debogorski, Jack Jesse, George Spears and Lisa Kelly. Although there are many other truckers and personnel involved in the show, these are our main truckers that we stick with.
I particularly like Lisa Kelly, she is so small and skinny, she really doesn't look how you would imagine a trucker to be, but she is one of the best and puts some of the other truckers to shame.
Whilst watching the truckers make their hauls, through various cameras in the trucks and set along the road, we also have a narrator that tells us exactly how dangerous each part of the roads can be and we often get shown small clips of previous accidents and CGI of possible accidents as each trucker comes face to face with potential deadly obstacles.
This narrator can be a bit annoying at times, but he does add to the apprehension you have when you see that each driver is clearly becoming uncomfortable and scared due to certain weather conditions and hazards in the roads. It's also interesting throughout each episode when you are given a bit of history about the ice road and how it all began. It's also shocking when you find out just how many people have lost their lives doing this particular job too.............lot's!
I really like this programme and always tune in to watch it. The real life characters are really engaging and you find yourself willing them along and hoping they will be ok. I have to admit I would be quite upset if something were to happen to any of the cast.
In find it really interesting to see what other people go through in their lives, in different parts of the world, and realise just how different my life actually is to others out there.
I have real respect for people who do jobs such as these, but at the same time I think they are a bit bonkers!
I recommend this as an interesting and exciting programme to watch.
This is the reality show that is aired on the History channel currently in its third series.
The show is currently aired at 9 o clock on the History Channel.
The show follows the brave lorry drivers who drive the dangerous roads to keep the supplies flowing.
The truck drivers are a mixture of Americans and Canadians but they all have one thing in commen they have balls of steel.
This series is set in Alaska and gives you an insight into the lives of these brave drivers.
The task they have set themselves is to ferry loads over roads that are basicaly sheets of ice to supply the towns and oil companies.
They have only a small window of oppertunity to get the supplies delivered around 12 weeks and must do so through hazardous driving conditions such as total whiteouts.
The drivers rush to get all of the loads delivered safely but they still encounter lorries that have slipped off the road.
As a driver myself I could not really contemplate this kind of driving and no amount of money in the World would get me on those roads.
Good to watch though, on the edge of your seat viewing.
I always enjoy documentaries that follow the lives of people in their various jobs. Ice Road Truckers does not disappoint. It follows men who leave their families for a season in Yellowknife in Canada. They go there for the season when the roads (made of ice) are strong enough for them to transport heavy loads.
These guys are crazy, they drive big heavy rigs on ice, sometimes just a foot in thickness. OK, so they get well paid and someone has to do it, but at what price. Some lose their lives out there, others suffer so badly too that it makes me wonder if it is worth the financial reward.
The truckers provide a really good service. In the couple of months that the roads are open, they carry goods, including food, to remote areas, that are otherwise not accessible. With a very good support team of engineers, support vehicles (like ploughs and rescue trucks), they manage to make their way through. It is sometimes edge of the seat viewing, due to the excellent editing. One particular episode showed two trucks shifting the same load, one driving forwards, the other in reverse, how crazy is that!
This is a very good series and well worth watching if you have the time.
This fascinating documentary follows ice truckers (usually men with families) from the small town of Yellowknife in Canada's Northwest region who travel across the region's many frozen icy lakes known as ice roads (which freeze over in sub zero temperatures of below -40 degrees Celsius) 350-mile and beyond highways are prepared by engineers to hold the weight of massive trucks with heavy loads which they take to remote settlements in Canadian diamond mining towns and are the only connection to these notoriously inaccessible terrains in the provision of essentials such as groceries and lumbar products to name a few, that can only be taken within the two month crucial timescale which begins after the engineers' 6 week road preparation, before the ice starts to melt and the roads disappear making them completely inaccessable. As the Canadian diamond mining industry rakes in as much as $1.9 billion a year, ice road truckers are essential to the Canadian economy.
This is an on the edge of your seat documentary which has you on tender hooks with the occasional sound of cracking ice and flashbacks of previous fatalities which could await them if the ice should crack and the driver and his truck should go under into the freezing waters beneath the ice road and so tugs at the heartstrings (they can earn in two months the equivalent of an annual year's salary on the road).
If a trucker wants to make serious money they rush to make as many deliveries as they can in the two month time span, the dash for cash. One guy called Hugh Rowland, nicknamed 'the Polar Bear' due to his bear like appearance, has 21 years' experience in the business, thrives on the thrill the danger of the job provides and as a result is a self made millionaire with his own fleet of four trucks and there is Alex (a well-known figure in Yellowknife) who is able to support his large family of 11 children on the lucrative income this risky business provides.
The message we get seems to be that although a potentially risky business, the ice truckers are willing to gamble this for the income it provides in a short period of time which far outweighs the risks involved.
I love to watch this, it is currently being aired on the history channel.
I know to some of you watching a load of truckers delivering things from one place to the next may not sound too appealing but what may appeal is the fact that they are hauling this over frozen lakes on the ice roads, you have great big lorrys with very heavy loads traveling on just a few feet of ice across to the other side of lakes to deliver items to oil refinarys, there is a race against time as the ice road is only thick enough to carry the trucks for a few weeks each year so a years supplys need to be taken there in this time,
Watching even the most experienced truckers on the ice road is entertaining let alone the new comers, driving on ice in something that large for 100s of miles through snow storns is great to watch, I just hope they all survive this year.
You can see this on the history channel at 8 and 9 pm on a thursday night
For those of you who have never seen 'Ice Road Truckers' before it is basically a documentary series set in Canada's Northwest Territories and the infamous ice roads. It is very similar in style to the 'Deadliest Catch' and the British 'Trawlermen', so if you're a fan of these you're sure to love this. To date there have been 2 complete seasons and 29 episodes made, it's a very popular show.
The format is simple, the drivers are regular truck drivers for ten months of the year, but when the sharp winter sets in they turn their hand to driving trucks on the ice roads and because of the huge risks involved the money they can make is astronomical. Each series follows the fortunes of about six drivers as they 'race for the cash'. Every time they report back to the depot they are told the loads available to them, some are more difficult and challenging than others in terms of size and weight and therefore drivers are paid differing amounts depending upon each load shifted. There is a real camaraderie between the drivers who often set off in convoy with one another and keep in touch via radio link which can be funny as they constantly take the Mickey out of one another and language used is quite colourful.
It sounds great, but there is a real danger of death on the roads. Trucks have been known to fall through the ice before and therefore police implement a strict speed limit on the ice road. If trucks breakdown they can be stranded and because they're miles from anywhere it can take hours for them to get help, drivers sometimes attempt to fix their vehicles, but the temperature is so low their hands can stick to the tools if they forget to put their gloves on etc. The most obvious danger is probably coming off of the road itself due to the fact that they're driving on ice and it is incredibly slippery, especially with the tonnage their pulling. The roads aren't always flat and sometimes drivers have to navigate steep hills, there is a danger that they can slip back down and so they attach metal chains to the tyres; again there is the chance that their hands can stick to the metal.
It is a really good show and can be seen on the History Channel on Thursdays at 9pm. Thanks for reading, feel free to comment.
With the dawning today in mid December some of us are looking out at a white wonderland. Schools are closed in the North and the main A66 route between Scotch Corner and Penrith is closed. I have been on that windy road which trails across the moors between two major roads and today it lies empty and inaccessible. The great British winter begins- but spare a thought for some very lonely men who risk their lives every day in Canada's Northern Territories.
Here some very brave and skilled men drive on "Ice Roads" literally constructed in winter through the frozen ocean and deserted in spring. These men are the basis of the series the "Ice Road Truckers" currently being shown on The History Channel now called History.
I have a passion for remote and inaccessible places and this programme is perfect for me because it takes you to some of the remotest outposts in the world from your armchair.
100 miles north of the Arctic Circle the Ice Road Truckers drive from Inuvik to a place called Tuktoyaktuk which is called Tuc for short and onwards to remote stations. They are contracted to work by the two major companies Mallik Gas Hydrate Research Project which studies the potential of extracting carbon energy from the natural gas hydrates that exist in the permafrost soil and MGM Energy who are a Canadian oil and gas exploration company. Their loads are like something from Thunderbirds- giant rigs and parts for construction the trucks are massive and the ice on which they travel is hazardous and thin.
We get to know the characters so well -Alex & Hugh and Rick & Drew. These men have previously driven on frozen lakes but now face their biggest challenge to drive over ocean roads. Alex is my favourite. A lovely guy who has a large family of 11 children and 7 grandchildren waiting at home for his return. He has 26 years experience on the ice roads through lakes but not any on the ocean.
The temperatures are very challenging, the wildlife stunning with polar bears and the lonely days filled with nothing but stunning views of The Northern Lights and the odd coffee from a thermos. The stress of the job shows through in the men as they face danger and death on these remote precarious channels in the oceans.
Inuvik is where they start out from and this town is not an old one. It was built in 1958 and has a population of 3500- mostly young energetic souls as living there is a challenge. For one month of the year the sun never shines and the temperature reaches as low as minus 60. Inuvik had another growth spurt in the 1970s, when speculators discovered oil and natural gas under the nearby Beaufort Sea.
Even getting to Inuvik is a challenge. One day I think this trip has my name on it because it is possible to drive north from Dawson City in the Yukon to Inuvik which is a distance of 460 miles through some of the most beautiful scenery in Canada- but beware the road is often closed and it is mostly just gravel.
However beyond this the roads belong to the Ice Road Truckers!
To give you an idea of the geography the Mackenzie River begins at the Great Slave Lake and it flows into the Beaufort Sea. This makes the towns of Aklavik and Tuktoyaktuk inaccessible for most of the year because they are in the delta of the river and these have to be serviced by plane or sea.
From December onwards as the river freezes drivers heading north from Inuvik take their chances on the Ice road which was first opened in 1981.This is no holiday as the road is pot holed and dangerous and has many ice cracks. After 34 kilometres it branches into two one way goes west to Aklavic and the other goes to Tuk. As the road to Tuk winds further north the driving conditions get worse as the road leaves the Mackenzie River and heads onto the frozen surface of the Beaufort Sea itself. It is hard to believe but until 1981 the only way to reach these communities was by dogs sledges.
The series charts the drivers as they battle daily with Illness (Alex is seriously ill and has to be airlifted to hospital), truck breakdowns and difficult relationships with managers and each other. Alex takes a wrong turn in one episode and is hours past his scheduled arrival time.
The monetary rewards are great but the risks are too.
In some places the ice is only a meter thick and the risks increase as the thaw begins.
Cosy and warm today in our centrally heated homes spare a thought for these guys who are risking their lives each day in the frozen North.
The series is compelling viewing. The scenery stunning and it's a privilege and a joy to be given an insight into their work. By the time you have seen an episode you actually feel the cold and I find myself wondering if I have frostbite. The journey takes you out onto the frozen ocean to a place where nature is in charge. Your fate is in her hands. It's gripping viewing. Get yourself a blanket and a warm drink and prepare to be entertained.
In the world where we have reality shows like 'Big Brother' or the even more irritating 'I was a Celebrity, Help Me Re-launch My Career' then it's refreshing to see a series that bases itself truly in reality. A show that has men being men and putting everything on the line to get the load delivered, this is the dangerous world of the Ice Road Truckers.
Although this has been shown on numerous channels such as The History Channel, Discovery Channel and Sky One, it has been a ratings success on Five where it has been shown in the prime time at 8pm slot on a Wednesday night with a repeat over the weekend.
As the narrator at the beginning of each episode says:
"At the top of the world, there's an outpost like no other...and a job only a few would dare. The mission: To haul critical supplies across 350 miles of frozen lakes to Canada's remote billion-dollar diamond mines. The challenge: to transport 10,000 loads in 60 days--before the road disappears. The rewards are great; the risks even greater. These are the men who make their living on thin ice."
The ice has a road marked out on it so the drivers can see where they must go which allows them to stay on a relatively clear path. Now be aware that these trucks are fully loaded with loads in the regions of tonnes and they are travelling 50mph over frozen water that in some places can be less than a metre thick!!! For the drivers the loads appear to be endless and the race is on to make money by simply delivering as many loads as possible loads to the multiple diamond mines and getting paid in the process, with the challenge to complete the job before the ice melts. The weather conditions can easily be called adverse at best, the temperature is never in the region of minus 40, visibility is usually poor when the trucks are crossing the lakes and the trucks themselves have to be repaired or fixed in the quickest time possible to ensure deliveries can be made.
What the series does and does exceedingly well is to give a breakdown of the characters involved, not only does the program cover the background of the individuals involved in the operation, but also shows the family side of why the drivers live away from home for up to five months at a time and the stresses of home life whilst the husbands are gone. This is refreshing to watch as usually a program such as this could easily just concentrate on the main event but interestingly manages to get under the skin of the characters so that the viewers could establish the reasons why these guys do the job in the first place.
To give some idea of the scope, for the time the lake is frozen and the deliveries can be made it's a case of living at the supply depot, whether it's in rented accommodation or in extreme cases living in the truck itself. These guys quite literally live on the edge and can quite easily put their lives in danger just driving their trucks.
The risk of driving across the lake is shown by camera angles from beneath the ice which show the truck running across the ice above. The shots are taken underwater and look amazing, but are also very frightening as well. The aspect of death is never too far away at a time like this in a location like this, if the truck manages to crack the ice and falls through then it's a case of the driver having less then 60 seconds to escape from the cab and to climb back above the ice otherwise they just become another statistic. This is something that is bound to happen when out on the lake and when this occurs it is shown repeatedly throughout the program. I personally find this frightening, but the fact that it is repeated and the driver is followed after the incident where insurance claims are filed only add to the story that unfolds in the episodes.
Other than the risk of falling through the ice, it's not all plain sailing and this is reflected in the many stories that we are told, for example drivers having accidents before they leave for the mine as they haven't put any snow chains on their wheels and have slid and hit another vehicle. Loads not being correctly balanced when placed on the trailer and moving whilst in motion is also a common thing that can be seen, the impact on the driver and the fact he has to be investigated because shows what pressure they are under.
All the drivers are highly competitive, and even though there is enough work to go around to all, it is when someone's truck breaks down that the problems start and the drivers will fight for extra work with some taking the unnecessary risks and not worrying about the consequences.
People watching this for the first time will think that the show is bigged up more than what it should be, in fact it was discovered that the truck that fell through the ice was staged specifically for the show, and however this did get the awareness across of how dangerous it is to do a job like this. The best and most experienced drivers will easily notch up a delivery nearly every day, so before the road disappears the most experienced can do up to 70 deliveries, which can add up to make in excess of $60,000 whilst the rookies manage somewhere in the region of 10 to 30 and can receive up to $25,000. Remember this is dependent upon weight and distance that the driver carries and goes.
The story also focuses on what happens when the ice road starts to melt, throughout the season the road is inspected regularly to ensure that the ice is good for travel. The problem is as soon as the ice starts to melt that the Truckers quite rightly start to get nervous travelling the 350 miles. Well that is all but a few, believe it or not a few still go across the ice to do the run and to get a little extra on top. Some are happy to stop at this stage while other just get the urge to continue. The site of the lakes without any ice is quite a stunning shot on its own as you realise what a great expanse was being used as a temporary highway between the towns of Tibbett and Contwoyto where the mine is based. In what could be called summer the town of Tibbett is a completely different place to be.
A repeat of Season 1 has just finished on Five, with Season 2 to be shown shortly that take a number of the drivers to Iceland as rookies on a similar operation. Personally I really enjoy watching this as it kind of puts my life into perspective with what others are doing on a daily basis, this is pure escapism to watch and is a great way to spend an hour. With talk of feature film in the works it will be interesting to see what happens, but for me this is the perfect tonic to watch and unwind, especially when I think I've had a bad day at work!
Documents the treacherous job of driving trucks over frozen lakes, also known as ice roads, in Canada's Northwest Territories.