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Ice Road Truckers is a documentary-style reality television series that premiered on The History Channel (now known simply as History) on June 17, 2007.

The second season premiered on June 8, 2008 in the US; October 9, 2008 on History in the UK and in Australia; November 12, 2008 in New Zealand; and January 7, 2009 on Five TV in the UK. The first season was not aired in Canada until March 4, 2009 on History Television.

The third season premiered on May 31, 2009 in the US; September 10 in the UK.

History

In 1999, The History Channel aired a 46-minute episode titled "Ice Road Truckers" as part of the Suicide Missions series. Based on the book Denison's Ice Road by Edith Iglauer, the episode detailed the treacherous job of driving trucks over frozen lakes, also known as ice roads, in Canada's Northwest Territoriesmarker. After 2000, reruns of the documentary were aired as an episode of the series Modern Marvels instead. Under this banner, the Ice Road Truckers show garnered very good ratings.

In 2006, The History Channel hired Thom Beers, owner of Original Productions and executive producer of Deadliest Catch, to create a series based on the Ice Road by Beers. Shot in high definition (although the season ended before History HD was launched in the US), the show "charts two months in the lives of six extraordinary men who haul vital supplies to diamond mines and other remote locations over frozen lakes that double as roads". During the finale of the show's first season of 10 episodes, The History Channel aired a promo for season 2 which began airing on June 8, 2008.Season 1 of Ice Road Truckers was shown on the British national commercial channel Five in February/March 2008. In Australia it aired on Austar and Foxtel in early 2008 and from June 18 it also began being shown on Network Ten. In autumn 2008 season one aired on RTL 7 in The Netherlandsmarker.

Reception

The series' premiere was seen by 3.4 million viewers to become the most-watched original telecast in the History Channel's 12-year history at that time. Among critics, Adam Buckman of The New York Post said, "Everything about 'Ice Road Truckers' is astonishing". Virginia Heffernan of The New York Times said, "Watching these guys ... make their runs, it’s hard not to share in their cold, fatigue and horrible highway hypnosis, that existential recognition behind the wheel late at night that the pull of sleep and the pull of death are one and the same. ... [I]t gets right exactly what Deadliest Catch got right, namely that the leave-nothing-but-your-footprints, green kind of eco-travelers are too mellow and conscientious to be interesting to watch. Instead, the burly, bearded, swearing men who blow methyl hydrate into their own transmissions and welcome storms as breaks from boredom ... are much better television." During 2007 the series was shown in the UKmarker, Australia and various countries in Africa.

By series completion it was clear that the truck falling through the ice was only a special effect, a fact that caused some grumbling among the truckers. Still, the series is a rare occasion in reality television where the cast seem pleased with the outcome.

Cast

Season 1 Drivers

Hugh Rowland

A very rough-around-the-edges 20-year veteran of ice-road trucking, Hugh is 47 years old and is based in Kelownamarker in southern British Columbiamarker. He claims to be known by the Ice Road trucking community as "The Polar Bear," which he says is a reference to his strong personality, bearish attitude, stamina and consistently high number of loads delivered per season. Hugh owns four trucks and drives one while the other three are manned by ice road rookies Drew Sherwood and Todd White, as well as friend and year-round employee Rick Yemm. Hugh's trucks all have the emblem R&R Hoe Service on the doors - the company Hugh owns in Kelowna (actually Winfield, BC).

During the course of Season 1, all three of Hugh's hired drivers end up prematurely leaving the ice road for reasons such as banishment for excessive speeding in Todd's case, to heated disagreements as to the working condition of Hugh's trucks in Rick's case. In Drew's case it was several break downs. Hugh's truck is called "The Crow's Nest" and is kept in good condition as was Rick's Truck, besides the heater. The trucks driven by Drew Sherwood and Todd White have a multitude of mechanical problems. After Drew's departure, Hugh hires a 4th driver named Danny Reese. In the final episode of the first season, Hugh's luck finally runs out when his truck is sideswiped by another trucker on the ice road, knocking a driving axle off the chassis. He ends up finishing the season in the truck originally driven by Rick.

Rick Yemm

One of Hugh Rowland's employees, this brash, tattooed trucker, also from Kelowna, was in his second year as an Ice Road trucker during Season 1. In 2006, Rick was one of the first truckers onto the Ice Road after it opened when, according to him, the sound of cracking ice was loudest. This stressful experience almost caused him to quit driving the Ice Road right then and there. He decided to continue, however, remarking, "I was too stupid and too stubborn to quit."

During Season 1, the floor heater in his truck was malfunctioning. This was a major source of tension between Hugh, the truck's owner, and Rick, who expected Hugh to take care of the problem so that he could continue hauling loads without risking severe frostbite. Rick ultimately quit and returned home, feeling that his friend was not fulfilling his responsibilities to maintain the trucks.

Rick is known for being hard on the trucks constantly beating on them. In one episode, Rick is seen bouncing up and down, pumping the fuel pedal up and down, and messing with the steering wheel, all the while facing the camera and saying "yee-haw motha **cker!"

Alex Debogorski

A legend in the Ice Road trucking community, 2007 marked Debogorski's 26th year as an Ice Road trucker. Debogorski is the father of eleven children, has seven grandchildren, and is a year-round resident of Yellowknifemarker. As stated in Season 1, being that he has been a staple driving the ice roads, it is something of a good-luck charm for Alex to pull the first load over the ice roads at the beginning of every season.

In Season 2 he had to leave early because of illness (a pulmonary embolism).

Jay Westgard

Jay is also a year round resident of Yellowknife. Despite his relative youth, Westgard is considered by the Ice Road community as the most talented driver of his generation. Westgard is 25 years old. He began driving trucks at age 16, and owned his first truck by age 18; at the time of his introduction, Westgard had acquired a reputation as a driver who excels in hauling oversized loads. Because of his experience, he is entrusted with delivering some of the more demanding loads, such as a huge 48-ton ore scrubber. He also agrees to drive in a convoy (led by Mike Kimball) hauling vital jet fuel to remote Delinemarker—a job most veterans would turn down because the trip is very risky.

T.J. Tilcox

A 21-year-old ice road rookie, Tilcox is vocal about how he hates the cold and ice, and explains that he is driving on the ice road for the experience, not the money. Tilcox has been trucking since age 16, and decided to try ice road trucking after seeing an advertisement in the paper. Early on he struggles with an older truck with no heat, but another driver grants Tilcox the use of his brand new Volvo truck leased to Trinity Transport. On his first run in the new truck, Tilcox gets in an accident before ever hitting the ice road due to the brake service line disconnecting from his trailer. Tilcox is ultimately cleared of responsibility and, after a delay, allowed back on the road.

After the accident Tilcox is injured while tying down a load, and several days later experiences severe abdominal pain which becomes so bad that he has to be flown out to receive medical care. Tilcox is able to return to the ice roads after being treated for his injuries. The expense of his treatment is highlighted on the show as a cause of concern for Tilcox. Ultimately, his insurance covers the twelve thousand dollar medical bill, although he does not have insurance. Despite his ordeals, Tilcox gains respect for the job and the people who do it, as well as self-satisfaction for having completed the entire season—a rare feat for a rookie. He leaves with the respect and admiration of his fellow ice road veterans.

Drew Sherwood

Drew is a veteran trucker, but an Ice Road rookie. He joined Hugh Rowland’s team after answering an advertisement in the local newspaper. Early on, Drew expresses a high degree of confidence that he will have no problems adjusting from highway to ice driving. Hugh considers Drew an arrogant rookie and a "one year driver". In the series premiere, Drew states "I have no intention of going into a ditch, bro", which is soon followed by getting stuck in a ditch, giving him a humbling lesson in how much respect the ice road demands.

Drew's hard luck unfortunately did not stop here, and was plagued with a frustrating amount of mechanical problems. For starters, he loses his battery box and batteries (resulting in two days lost while a replacement box is fabricated on the spot), suffers a flat tire, and then experiences problems with his truck’s on-board computer that forces him to abandon a load on the roadside. Drew ends up driving the truck of expelled driver Todd White just to pick up where he left off, yet ends up suffering through problems in that truck as well. Hugh Rowland, the truck's owner, and Lee Parkenson, Hugh's mechanic, blamed many of these mechanical problems squarely on Drew himself. Drew ultimately decides enough is enough and leaves the ice roads to return home.

Season 1 support personnel

Tom Tweed

Tom is a dispatcher for Tli Cho Landtran in Yellowknife.

Rick Fitch

Rick is a projects manager for Tli Cho Landtran, and is responsible for scheduling client loads. He is seen responding to several accidents in the series. Rick has been working on the ice road for over 20 years.

Ken Murray

Ken is an officer for Secure Check, the organization responsible for security and rules enforcement on the ice road. A first-time speeding ticket can result in a five-day suspension, while severe infractions (including excessive speed) can lead to a driver being banned for the rest of the season. Truck weights are also checked to make sure they will not over-stress the ice; a driver with an overweight truck can be fined several hundred dollars.

Lee Parkinson

Lee operates a garage in Yellowknife. He is the busiest mechanic in the north and works with his apprentice Mark Chang.

Todd White

Todd (aka Chains) worked for Hugh Rowland, comes from the eastern coast Canada and is a self proclaimed trucker and singer. He responded to an ad that Hugh placed, and was hired as part of his crew after a seven year absence from ice road trucking. One of the main reasons Todd returned to ice road trucking was the need for $20,000 to repair his own truck. Todd was banned from ice road trucking after a speeding violation where he was clocked at in a zone. Todd appealed, claiming that he missed a speed limit sign, but his appeal was denied. After Todd left, Drew drove his truck.

Danny Reese

Shortly after Drew's departure, Hugh hired Danny to take over the truck vacated by Drew after it had finally received a new ECM. Danny quickly noticed that the truck "had its quirks," which included problems with the truck's turbo similar to those experienced with this truck by Drew.

Neil McDougall

Safety and Compliance Supervisor with Tli Cho Landtran. His job is to set up and hire all the drivers and trucks for the winter road and also to monitor and police the drivers on the road so that rules are not violated so that the truckers are not kicked off the road.

Season 2 Drivers

Alex, Hugh, Drew, and Rick take part in this season as "highway maggots"--rookies on the ice road from Inuvikmarker to Tuktoyaktukmarker. The following experienced truckers are also profiled.

Eric Dufresne

A 46-year-old native of Montrealmarker, now a resident of Faro, Yukonmarker, with 26 years of experience on this ice road. As a result, he is often entrusted with loads that are heavy or hard to handle, such as a derrick in the season premiere. He also does much of his own maintenance and repair work and is used to the cold weather, stating that he can be comfortable in a denim jacket even at .

Bear Swensen

Born in Saskatchewanmarker, Bear is a 59-year-old resident of British Columbia and a six-year ice road veteran. He has worked most of his life as a truck driver in the logging industry, with some actual logging experience as well. When not working on the ice roads, he works as a professional bear hunting guide. Like Eric, he frequently pulls heavier-than-average loads.

Season 2 Support Personnel

Kurt Wainman

The owner of Northwind Industries, he hires Hugh and Drew to drive for him in the season premiere. He speaks candidly of his preference for signing up local truckers and makes it clear that the two newcomers will have to prove that they can handle the harsh conditions on this ice road. During periods of severe weather, he occasionally drives portions of the road and keeps an eye out for stranded truckers.

Doug Saunders

Doug is the operations manager for E. Gruben's Transport, the company that hires Alex and Rick. He considers Rick to be one of his more "high-maintenance" drivers, in terms of Rick's rough handling of the trucks and frequent complaints about the work environment.

Shaun Lundrigan

The chief mechanic at the Gruben's freight yard in Tuktoyaktuk, he finds himself repairing Rick's trucks several times during the season. As a result, his opinion of Rick as a trucker steadily deteriorates from week to week.

Jerry Dusdal

The "truck push" for Mullen Transportation, he takes responsibility for the truckers' safety and delivery of their loads. He states in the season premiere that he will never send someone else to do a job that he is not willing to do himself. When an entire drilling operation must be moved from one site to another, he deals with the logistics and equipment dismantling, as well as the delay caused by a winter storm that strikes the area.

Davey Lennie

A foreman on the Northwind ice road construction crew, he looks after the trucks when the road is closed, and also stands ready to respond to any distress calls that come in. In the season premiere, he describes an incident from the previous year in which his truck broke through the ice. Oversized loads, such as a survival shack hauled by Eric, sometimes require his help to get from the edge of town to the freight yard. His cousin Isaac drives with Hugh to get some road experience before taking the written exam for his truck driver's license.

Kelly Brown

A veteran driver in Inuvik, Kelly works for Matco Transportation, the second company that hires Drew shortly after the season begins. He rides with Drew on a training run to help him get used to driving the Arctic ice roads. Kelly grew up in Montreal and began driving trucks in 1983; he has worked the ice roads since 1993.

Jordan Fedosoff

The manager of Matco's Inuvik branch office, Jordan was raised in Albertamarker and began working as a truck driver in 1979. He has driven and worked in Inuvik since 1989.

Devon Neff

A rookie driver who works for Mullen, Devon is called in to help move equipment off the Langley site late in the season. Due to the poor condition of the road at this time, he must contend with hazards such as breaks in the surface and water overflows from beneath the ice.

Season 3 Drivers

Hugh and Alex take part in this season as newcomers to the Dalton Highway in Alaskamarker, working alongside the following local drivers at Carlile Transportation.

Jack Jessee

A 38-year-old veteran driver and Virginiamarker native, Jack has 15 years of ice road trucking experience to his credit. He has earned a reputation as a "heavy hauler" who specializes in moving massive and/or oversized loads. In his introduction on the show's Web site, he offers this opinion about driving the Alaska roads: “You learn the road really fast… or you end up dead.”

George Spears

George, 59, is a respected veteran driver in Alaska. He has been driving the ice roads for 30 years and helping rookies get used to the hazards. In the season premiere, he remarks about an incident in which he flipped his own truck over a cliff one year. He intends to retire at the end of the season.

Lisa Kelly

A former school bus driver and state freestyle motocross champion, Lisa is starting her second year on the ice roads. At 28, she is the youngest female driver this year, hoping to earn the veterans' respect and become Carlile's first female heavy hauler.

Tim Freeman, Jr.

A 23-year-old ice road rookie from Blackduck, Minnesotamarker, Tim is a fourth-generation trucker with several years of over-the-road driving experience. Family friend George Spears has been helping him prepare for the challenge of driving Alaska's roads.

Carey Hall

The son and grandson of truckers in his native Louisianamarker, Hall, a 45-year-old African American, is known on the Alaskan ice as "Big Daddy" and is universally respected for his professionalism. He appears in one episode, driving with Jack to deliver a pair of enormous storage tanks.

Episodes

Season 1

Ready to Roll

The series premiere, which aired June 17, 2007. Six ice road truckers are introduced, and ice road truckers are described as men driving eighteen wheelers who haul equipment and supplies from Yellowknifemarker, Canada, across a temporary road composed of portages and frozen lakes, the destination being one of three diamond mines northeast of Yellowknife. Nuna Logistics construction crews began by defining and strengthening a highway that crosses permafrost and frozen lakes. When the ice over the frozen lakes reaches a thickness considered to be safe, the road is officially opened, and the truckers (beginning with Alex, who as stated above hauls the first load as a "good-luck charm") begin carrying loads across what is considered to be the most dangerous road in the world. Highlights include: Drew going into a ditch (although that was not his truck pictured and he did not, in fact, go into a ditch; rather he put a tire off in a snowbank), Alex having to nurse his truck to its destination due to brake trouble, and T.J. making his first ice road run in whiteout conditions. At the end of the episode, the load count was as follows:

Ice Road Load Count
The Count Rick Alex Hugh T.J. Jay Drew
Loads 1 1 1 1 1 1


Destination: Diamond Mine

This episode premiered June 24, 2007. The road is stopped due to a traffic jam. Jay hauls a 17-ton water tank, while Hugh and Rick begin a season-long competition to see who can achieve the highest load count. Hugh and Rick deal with mechanical issues and T.J. loses the heat in his truck. At the end of the episode, the load count was shown, now with a tally of cash earned. The load count was as follows:

Ice Road Load Count
The Count Alex Rick Hugh T.J. Jay Drew
Tons 103 82 51 67 66 53
Estimated Cash 11.2K 8.6K 7.5K 9.2K 9.4K 7.8K


Dash for the Cash

This episode first aired July 1, 2007. The road is closed due to a strong Arctic storm. Also, Alex transports a desperately-needed piece of equipment to the mine; a diamond-ore crusher.
Ice Road Load Count
The Count Alex Rick Hugh Drew T.J. Jay
Tons 125 110 87 86 65 60
Estimated Cash 13K 11.8K 10.2K 9.2K 10K 10K


The Big Chill

This episode premiered July 8, 2007. On the 18th day of the season a 50-ton fuel tanker flips over at the start of the ice road. Jay hauls three giant water purifiers to the De Beers diamond mine. Drew gets back out from the garage, while fellow rookie T.J. weatherproofs his truck with duct tape. A fuel tanker flip on the Ingraham Trail not only blocks traffic but also threatens the Yellowknife River with fuel spillage.

Ice Road Load Count
The Count Alex Hugh Rick T.J. Drew Jay
Tons 176 163 140 122 60 97
Estimated Cash 16.2K 15.6K 14.4K 12.2K 10.2K 10K


Midseason Mayhem

The fifth episode premiered on July 15, 2007. The season is half way over, with 4,000 loads taken but with 6,000 to go. Reckless speeding has led to blowouts on the ice road. More than one driver faces harsh repercussions after being caught speeding - Todd is banned from the ice road after he is clocked going 23 km/h (about 14 mph) over the speed limit. A fuel tanker overturns, blocking traffic and posing a threat to the environment if the fuel contaminates a river that supplies water to an outpost.T.J. leaves the yard with a new rig, and almost immediately has an accident when, after he left the yard, his trailer service line (blue) gladhand was knocked off by a loose box on the catwalk, leaving him with no trailer brakes. Drew ends up in the shop again, due to breakdowns.

Ice Road Load Count
The Count Alex Hugh Jay Rick Drew T.J.
Tons 262 214 202 177 173 127
Estimated Cash 21.2K 20.4K 17.2K 16.8K 15.4K 13.4K


Driving on Thin Ice

This episode premiered on July 22, 2007 and was the sixth episode this season. Jay takes a diamond ore scrubber to the De Beersmarker mine, the scrubber had to be delivered or else the mine couldn't go into operation in the fall. T.J.'s accident from the last episode was investigated, and emergency crews responded to a truck that partially went through the ice.

Ice Road Load Count
The Count Alex Hugh Rick Jay Drew T.J.
Tons 346 254 249 242 216 198
Estimated Cash 26.0K 23.6K 22.8K 20.2K 16.2K 15.4K


The Rookie Challenge

This episode premiered on July 29, 2007. Alex makes a run over a new road to return a mobile housing unit to Yellowknife, and is temporarily stranded when his truck loses traction on loose snow while trying to climb a hill. Drew faces more challenges when his truck runs out of diesel fuel. Despite being refueled, the lines freeze and Drew is forced to wait in his hotel room while they thaw in the garage. After being convinced by his wife to keep trying, he attempts to make another run, but the brakes on his trailer lock up. Drew switches to another trailer, but the brakes on the new one fail too, costing him another day. The final straw is a coolant leak from the radiator. After being told it would take 1-2 days for repairs due to no room in the shop, Drew makes the decision to return home. He receives his pay from Hugh and turns in his driver number. Hugh, on the other hand, nearly misses a run due to a flat tire discovered during an oil change, but is able to get a replacement and hits the road. T.J. requests medical assistance when a previous on-the-job injury flares up, requiring him to be flown from the Dome Lake Camp back to Yellowknife for treatment. Following his release from the hospital, T.J. passes a physical to allow him back on the roads.

Ice Road Load Count
The Count Alex Hugh Jay Rick T.J. Drew
Tons 412 376 333 329 220 313
Estimated Cash 31.0K 29.4K 28.0K 25.0K 19.0K 18.4K


Into the Whiteout

This episode premiered on August 5, 2007. There are still thousands of loads to be delivered to the various mines, but the end of the season is in sight. Complicating matters is the fact that an Arctic storm is bearing down on northwestern Canadamarker. Because of storm, special permission is granted allowing five trucks to head to the mines instead of the usual four. Drivers Alex, Jay, Rick, T.J., and newcomer Cody form up in this special convoy. At a rest stop, T.J. oversleeps and the convoy continues on without him. T.J. later leaves with another driver from the company he was driving for. The four remaining drivers head north to the mines, arriving just as the storm comes in, and are forced to stay at the mines because the ice roads have been closed down. During the storm, three drivers - including T.J. - go missing. It is later learned that T.J. had stopped at a portage and waited out the storm there. Meanwhile, Hugh brings his friend Danny to drive Drew's truck after Drew quit. Danny does not get very far before the truck has further problems, including very little turbo power and an overheating engine. Although Drew made the decision to leave, Hugh claims repeatedly that he was fired.

Ice Road Load Count
The Count Alex Hugh Rick Jay T.J. Drew
(Resigned)
Tons 440 418 368 344 233 363
Estimated Cash 32.6K 30.8K 30.5K 26.6K 20.0K 19.0K


The Big Melt

This episode premiered on August 12, 2007. In The Big Melt, the season is starting to wind down as spring inches nearer and the ice covering the lakes begins to melt. There is a push to get vital loads up to the mines before the ice roads melt. Alex takes a housing unit over an ice road to a closed mine in the process of being cleaned up. Jay participates in a special convoy, lead by Mike Kimball, to the remote village of Deline with vital supplies - facing a number of challenges throughout the trip. After the first trailer he takes causes him to be overweight, he switches loads with another driver (Kimball) with a lighter truck. Then one of the trucks in the convoy has a fuel tank that comes loose, gets stuck underneath the truck, and is punctured when it hits the ground. This forces the convoy to stop to clean up the spill as best they can, and to remove the tank from underneath his truck. Rick confronts Hugh about the issues he is having with his rig - specifically the non-functional heaters, and decides that the time has come for him to leave the ice road as well. Rick hopes that he can continue being friends with Hugh, but states that he would never work for the man again. A new leader in the "dash for the cash" appears, Hugh has overtaken Alex in the money count.

Ice Road Load Count
The Count Hugh Alex Jay T.J. Rick
(Resigned)
Drew
(Resigned)
Tons 572 498 440 288 369 363
Estimated Cash 42.8K 41.4K 39.5K 29.0K 28.0K 19.0K


The Final Run

This episode, which is the final episode in season one, premiered on August 19, 2007. The ice covering the lakes continues to melt as warmer weather finally arrives, and the ice road season winds down. Hugh is involved in an accident when he is sideswiped by another truck. Not only is his truck crippled by the accident, but one of the bags of ammonium nitrate he was carrying begins leaking on to the ice - which melts the ice at an even faster rate. Hugh and ice road maintenance crews work to contain the spill and clean the ammonium nitrate off the road. Another truck takes the load north while Hugh returns to Yellowknife (Hugh got credit for this load although he failed to take it all the way to its destination). Jay takes an underground rock truck north to the Fortune mine. Trying to climb a steep hill, he becomes stuck, due to the way the load sits on his truck, but fortunately there is a bulldozer on site to pull him the rest of the way. After reaching the mine and unloading the rock truck, Jay heads home for the season. Hugh manages to get one of his other trucks working, and takes a final load north. Alex convinces officials to allow him to take a light load north on his own; it turns out to be his final load of the season, as the road is closed soon afterwards. And a raven, sacred to the north, flies by T.J. for a second time as he takes his final load north, capping a remarkable rookie season. The season turns out to be one of the most successful seasons so far, with 10,922 loads totaling 331,000 tonnes (730 million pounds, or 365,000 U.S. tons) delivered. (Note: The total shown on screen is 662,000,000 pounds, corresponding to 331,000 US tons.)

Ice Road Load Count
The Count Hugh Alex Jay T.J. Rick

(Resigned)
Drew

(Resigned)
Tons 722 648 542 374 369 363
Estimated Cash 58.4K 57.0K 57.5K 37.0K 28.0K 19.0K
Loads 37 36 35 23 19 13


Specials

Three additional one-hour specials ran in the weeks following "The Final Run." Then and Now premiered on August 26, 2007 and provided a look into the development and future of Canada's ice roads. Clips from season 1 were featured, as well as further commentary from Hugh, Alex, and road pioneer John Denison. Off the Ice premiered on September 2, 2007, bringing all six truckers together for a chance to express their thoughts about the job and each other. On the Edge premiered on September 9, 2007, continuing the discussion and exploring the truckers' lives during the off season.

A fourth special, The Road to Season 2, aired on June 1, 2008. This hour presented highlights from the first season and gave a preview of things to come in the second one.

Season 2

Edge of the Earth

The season premiere, which aired June 8, 2008. As the ice road from Inuvikmarker to Tuktoyaktukmarker is completed, drivers converge on Inuvik for the start of the year's transport season. Alex, Hugh, Rick, and Drew find themselves lumped in with the other "highway maggots" - the local drivers' term for rookies on this road - and must adapt to new rules and conditions. The road takes them up the Mackenzie Rivermarker and over parts of the Arctic Oceanmarker, with long stretches in which drivers are out of radio contact. Alex is delayed by the late arrival of Rick, who gets into an accident on his way up the Dempster Highway while bringing a truck to Alex. They are both dispatched to Mallik, a site of ongoing research into gas hydrate fields. As they take their first loads out (a boiler house and a drilling mud tank), Alex gets used to this ice road's higher speed limits ( and up), while Rick keeps driving at as he did in Yellowknife.

Eric Dufresne, a 26-year veteran of the road, is unable to start work right away because his truck needs transmission fluid and he must wait for the repair shop's supply to thaw out. His load (a shelter building) instead goes to Hugh, who makes his first delivery to Mallik while coping with malfunctioning brakes. Once Eric gets his truck back in service, he transports a derrick to the site. Meanwhile, Drew's departure is repeatedly delayed - first because he did not bring the proper cold-weather gear, then because there are no working trucks available. He ultimately quits without taking a single load onto the ice, but soon he is wondering aloud if that decision was a mistake.

Mechanical Mayhem

Premiered on June 15, 2008. Word of Drew’s quitting spreads rapidly among the other truckers, but instead of going home, he finds work at a local moving company - driving a forklift at first, then a box truck. Eric is assigned the job of hauling a much-needed vacuum truck to Mallik; emergency repairs on its suspension and a frozen bolt threaten to ruin this plan, but he does eventually leave in time. Hugh takes a boiler to Mallik as Rick returns to Inuvik with a load of classified equipment from a Cold War-era military post. Six-year veteran Bear Swensen takes a load of rig mats to Mallik as Alex hauls a load to Tuktoyaktuk. On the way back to Inuvik, transporting contaminated soil, Alex spots emergency personnel attending to a flipped-over box truck whose driver is nowhere in sight. (Word later comes that this person made it back to Inuvik safely, while the truck is towed in.)

Both Drew and Rick become ill; Drew calls in sick while Rick keeps driving. The ice-locked barge Wurmlinger, a base for ice road crews and research work, needs a vacuum tanker to offload its wastewater. Called on to repair a mothballed rig in the freight yard, Hugh gets it running after a night’s work and takes it up. Meanwhile, Rick suddenly stops on the ice road while taking some truck parts to Tuktoyaktuk. The problem is revealed to be a loss of engine oil, caused by hitting a bump that tore the oil pan open. He explains to Bear that the structure of his truck leaves the pan vulnerable to accidents such as this. The hole cannot be repaired, according to Tuktoyaktuk mechanic Shaun Lundrigan, and Rick will have to wait for a new pan to be flown in before he can get back to work.

The Big Blizzard

Premiered on June 22, 2008. As the season’s first major blizzard closes in on the region, drivers scramble to deliver their loads before the ice road becomes impassable. With the help of a student trucker, Hugh takes his refurbished vacuum tanker to Aput, a natural gas exploration site, to haul away a load of wastewater. Drew makes his first ice road run of the year, bound for Tuktoyaktuk with a load of construction materials for a hockey rink, but his illness flares up and Kelly Brown (the senior trucker riding with him) has to finish the run. Rick is still off the road, waiting for a new oil pan to be flown in, as Bear hauls a drilling mud tank to Mallik. A snowplow gets stuck on the ice, but a repair crew quickly takes care of it.

In Tuktoyaktuk, Alex discovers a flat tire (low on air) and must reinflate it quickly so he can drive to Aput for his next load – a pump house that must be taken back to Tuktoyaktuk. However, its size and weight force him to drive at low speeds as the storm moves closer. He is still on the road when the call comes in to close it, and he reaches his destination with minutes to spare before visibility drops to zero. In Inuvik, crew foreman Davey Lennie looks after the fleet and responds to a call of a truck that has run into a ditch, digging it out so it can be driven safely back. Trucking company owner Kurt Wainman assists by patrolling the area to watch for any other stranded vehicles. Once the storm breaks, the snowplows get to work clearing the road; as soon as they finish, Hugh is first to move out, taking the vacuum tanker back to Aput and spotting a pickup truck abandoned in the drifts. Rick borrows a truck to haul a load of industrial waste to Inuvik, but has to stop on the still-rough road to re-secure the cargo, as Drew is again out sick.

Arctic Whiteout

Premiered on June 29, 2008. The gas drilling wells at Aput have come up dry [499472], so the entire operation is to be shut down and moved to a new site at Langley. Nearly seven million pounds of equipment must be hauled along the ice road as quickly as possible, in order to keep the company from losing any more money than necessary. Eric hauls a heat exchanger and a generator for the new site’s truck shop, while Hugh brings a load of rig mats up from Inuvik and later takes his vacuum tanker to Aput. Meanwhile, Alex takes a water tank and some boards from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk and Drew completes his first solo run over the ocean, hauling groceries to the same destination. Rick is once again off the ice, waiting on both an oil pan for his original truck and assorted repairs to the one he borrowed; Shaun and the other mechanics blame these problems on his rough handling of the trucks.

Once Eric has unloaded his cargo at Langley, he picks up a survival shack bound for Inuvik. When he reaches the edge of town at nightfall, though, he finds that the load will not fit underneath the power lines, so he finds a safe spot to park and spends the night in his truck. The next morning, he and Davey unload the shack and deliver it to the freight yard. In Aput, the truck shop and an expensive derrick drive unit are taken to Langley in one trip, after which the derrick itself is pulled down and prepared for transport. The weather begins to worsen as a storm closes in on the area, and supervisor Jerry Dusdal has a discussion with the senior truckers concerning the safety of both loads and personnel. Ultimately, the move is called off for the day and the road from Aput to Langley is closed until the storm passes.

Lost on the Ice

Premiered on July 6, 2008. With the storm over and the road cleared and reopened, the truckers are ready to get back to work hauling equipment from Aput to Langley. To save time, rather than break the derrick down into pieces, Jerry loads the entire unit onto two trucks, hooked back to back with the derrick's ends resting on their trailers. Oncoming traffic is warned to yield the right of way to these two truckers; one convoy barely gets off the road in time, but the derrick still arrives safely. Eric hauls a cherry picker to the new site, once he and a supervisor get its frozen engine running again so he can drive it onto his trailer. Bear picks up an electric power station and carefully drives it to Langley due to its weight distribution.

In Inuvik, Drew spends the day driving a box truck around town and a forklift at his employer’s loading dock, but he gets the latter’s wheels stuck in a rut and calls for Kelly to pull him out. Meanwhile, Hugh finds himself without a load since the senior truckers have taken them all for the moment; he is put onto miscellaneous work in the freight yard. In Tuktoyaktuk, Rick has begun to believe that load supervisor Doug Saunders and the other truckers are singling him out to treat him disrespectfully, and he calls Hugh for advice before getting word that his borrowed truck has been repaired. He takes a load of garbage to Inuvik but is not happy about it, refusing to get out of his truck and help clear a problem with the dumping. Alex is dispatched from Inuvik to Aput, a route unfamiliar to him, and he takes a wrong turn without realizing it. Long after nightfall, six hours overdue, he finally discovers his mistake and backtracks to Aput.

Hundred Ton Haul

Premiered on July 13, 2008. Even though the derrick has been successfully moved from Aput to Langley, the crews cannot erect it until its 80-ton substructure is put in place. This equipment is split into two 40-ton loads and assigned to Alex and Bear. Alex has been battling problems with his health – hemorrhoids, shortness of breath, general fatigue – and Jerry holds him back for a while, sending Bear out first. The two loaded trucks have a combined weight of over 100 tons; Alex's load is the heaviest of his career. Both truckers stay below 25 km/h to avoid over-stressing the ice, and once they reach Langley, they must maneuver very carefully in order to unload the substructure halves in exactly the right position. Alex's half gets briefly tangled in the lines of one of the auxiliary trucks helping with the operation, but it is set down safely and the derrick goes up. Returning to Aput late in the day, he picks up a load of rig mats and crates, but Jerry keeps him there for the night out of concern for his welfare.

Eric begins his day driving to Aput, ready to work on the rig move, but he is diverted to pick up a broken-down bulldozer stuck on the ice; the bulldozer can move slowly but not powerfully enough to do work. With the help of nearby mechanics, he loads it onto his trailer, drives it to the Wurmlinger for repairs, then heads for Aput again. Both Hugh and Rick draw waste-hauling jobs; Hugh takes his vacuum tanker up from Inuvik to offload sewage at Langley, while Rick brings another load of garbage from Tuktoyaktuk to Inuvik. After Rick finishes his round trip, he pays a visit to his company’s safety officer and voices his frustrations about the perceived lack of respect from Doug and his coworkers.

Man Down

Premiered on July 20, 2008. As the rig move enters its third day, there are still many loads to haul from Aput to Langley. While pulling a gas flare stack, Eric hears of a polar bear sighting near the road and makes plans to stay clear of the area, since several people have died in bear attacks over the years. The news quickly spreads among the truckers, and local wildlife experts equipped with snowmobiles and rifles are dispatched to ward off the threat. Bear takes a boiler onto the ice road, whose surface is now so rough that he makes a risky stop to check that his load is secure before proceeding to Langley.

In Tuktoyaktuk, Rick is scheduled to make a run to Fort Nelson, British Columbiamarker – a five-day round trip, most of it on highways. Making it clear that he would rather quit, he is reassigned to haul garbage to Inuvik; before he can leave, though, his truck’s alternator has to be replaced. Once he has dumped the load, he stops at a bar in Inuvik and voices his displeasure to other truckers. Hugh takes his vacuum tanker from Inuvik to Langley for another sewage haul-away, during which he is surprised to learn of Alex’s deteriorating health. Alex has taken some pipes and a storage container from Aput to Langley, but his breathing has gotten worse and he is now suffering from severe coughing fits that sometimes bring up blood. After delivering the load and driving to Inuvik in preparation the next one, he checks himself into the hospital and is diagnosed with a possible pulmonary embolism. In order to confirm this, he must be flown to Yellowknife for a CT scan. Alex calls his wife to break the news and gets a visit from Hugh before boarding the plane.

A Trucker's Farewell

Premiered on July 27, 2008. With only a few loads left in the rig move, the pressure is on Jerry to finish the whole operation by the end of the day. He sends Eric out with a drilling mud pump and gives the last load to Bear—a tank for isolating and measuring the gas brought up from the drilling wells. Both truckers have to handle their loads carefully, and Eric’s low speed briefly causes a traffic jam that puts extra stress on the road. Once Bear pulls in at Langley, the rig move is complete and the crews hurry to get all the equipment assembled so they can start drilling.

Elsewhere, Hugh takes his vacuum tanker from Inuvik to Langley so he can drain the sewage tank again, while Rick hauls garbage from Tuktoyaktuk to Inuvik. Hugh has to be careful on the return trip; the battered road is becoming slippery due to the lengthening days, and the liquid in his tanker threatens to slosh around and cause him to lose control of the truck. Rick complains about both his truck’s condition and his own aches and pains, planning to see a chiropractor in Inuvik even though Doug wants him back in Tuktoyaktuk that night. He instead returns to the freight yard, intent on confronting Doug, and is surprised to be given time off for a checkup.

In Yellowknife, Alex’s wife visits him in the hospital, accompanied by his priest and two of the couple’s sons, to pray for his recovery. His test results show a blood clot in his left lung, as well as evidence that he may have had a clot in his right lung that has broken loose. Warned that he could have a heart attack if he goes back to work, Alex reluctantly decides to end his ice road season early.

A Rookie Fumbles

Premiered on August 3, 2008. The time has come to dismantle the Mallik site, even as crews are close to a breakthrough on harnessing the region’s gas hydrate fields. When springtime comes, there must be no traces of any human presence on the site. Eric picks up a camp shack bound for Inuvik, with the goal of completing two hauls in one day. In Tuktoyaktuk, Rick and second-year trucker Bill Thorbourne are sent to Mallik together. Bill’s truck soon develops problems with its heater, and the two men have to nurse their trucks along so he does not suffer hypothermia or frostbite. Upon reaching the site, Rick picks up a load of dirty snow and Bill takes on an electrical generator and three lighting plants. They reach Tuktoyaktuk safely; before Rick can clock out for the night, though, he is put on loader duty and must unload Bill’s cargo. At Mallik, the crews succeed in extracting natural gas from the fields.

Elsewhere, Drew makes a run from Inuvik to the hamlet of Aklavikmarker to deliver groceries. He briefly loses traction on the slick ice when his wheels lock up, but he is able to regain control with some careful maneuvering. Rookie Mike Flynn takes a load of diesel fuel from Tuktoyaktuk to Mallik and has to deal with his own road hazards along the way. Hugh and another rookie, Davey's cousin Isaac Lennie, set out from Inuvik for the Wurmlinger, taking the vacuum tanker to drain the wastewater tank. As he tries his hand at driving an ice road truck, Isaac has a rough beginning but soon improves under Hugh’s encouragement. Eric transports two shacks to Inuvik by day’s end, topping Hugh’s load count. Hugh, Rick, Bear, and Drew gather in the local bar to talk about Alex's absence, and Hugh calls him in the Yellowknife hospital to get the latest news. Alex tells everyone that he is off the ice for the rest of the season and will probably be out of work for at least six months. The next morning, Isaac takes the written exam for his truck driver’s license but does not pass – a failure Hugh takes personally.

Highway Maggots

Premiered on August 10, 2008. With less than two weeks to go in the season, the ice road is badly worn and getting thinner by the day, and every available trucker is called in to move loads. Eric and Hugh drive up from Inuvik, the former headed for the Wurmlinger to pick up a load of drill casings, the latter to Langley with his vacuum tanker to pump out the wastewater. As they return to Inuvik, Kurt climbs into an available truck and drives up to help in the effort, hauling back a snowcat and a survival shack used by the road crews. At the ice-locked Arctic Star barge, a headquarters for natural gas exploration crews, veteran trucker Jim Gattie picks up a three-trailer load to save time: two pairs of full fuel tanks and related supplies, all on sleigh runners. The strategy makes his drive especially hazardous, but he reaches the edge of Inuvik safely and stops to unload the sleighs so they can be dragged in one by one.

In Tuktoyaktuk, Rick starts out for Mallik to collect a load of dirty snow. Bill heads for Langley with a generator whose fuel tank begins to leak onto the ice, forcing him to turn around; Rick doubles back and helps plug the hole so that the environment will not be further damaged. As Bill goes to the shop, Rick speeds to Mallik in order to make up for lost time. He picks up the snow and dumps it in Tuktoyaktuk, but shortly into his second run, he hits a bump that damages his truck's hydraulics. The incident puts him back in the shop, fuming over this turn of events. Meanwhile, Bear is sent to help a snowplow truck that has broken through the ice, but another trucker takes care of the emergency even before he can get moving. A convoy of gravel trucks comes north — temporary southern drivers, unfamiliar with the ice roads, who have to be escorted to Aput so they can haul off drilling debris. Kurt makes his disdain for these drivers quite clear as they pass him and take their loads down toward Fort Nelson. At Langley, the crews’ testing confirms the presence of a sizable natural gas deposit.

Man vs. Ice

Premiered on August 17, 2008. Now that natural gas deposits have been found at Langley, the top priority is to cap the well and move all the equipment out before the ice melts. However, the truckers must contend with both the thinning road and the water that has begun to flow up through the cracks. Rookie Devon Neff, making his first ice road run, and Hugh are dispatched from Inuvik to help with the job. Hugh picks up a load of rig mats and several large spools of cable, an unstable load whose weight distribution makes it difficult for him to keep traction on the wet, slick road. Meanwhile, just after Devon takes on two diesel fuel tanks and starts back, he is alerted to a severe water flow on the road directly ahead of him; he stops to re-secure his load, then proceeds slowly through the hazard. He and Hugh both make it back to Inuvik safely.

Elsewhere, Bear and Eric each pick up a camp shack and haul them back to Inuvik – Bear’s from the Arctic Star, Eric’s from Langley. Just outside town, Rick gets the most expensive load of his season, a million-dollar off-road vehicle that must be taken 30 miles up the road to the 2D natural gas exploration site. Once he returns to Tuktoyaktuk, his truck has to go into the shop for repairs, idling him for the rest of the day; after he tells Doug about the problem and leaves, Doug expresses his displeasure at Rick’s rough driving and truck-handling habits. At Langley, Jerry coordinates the dismantling of the derrick and its associated equipment as Hugh brings his vacuum tanker up to offload the wastewater, completing two runs in one day and tying Eric for the lead in the load count.

The Big Thaw

Premiered on August 24, 2008. As daily temperatures continue to rise and the ice road keeps melting, Jerry works at full speed to clear all the equipment from the Langley site. Every available trucker reports in for the job, including Devon and Hugh; the former gets a camp shack, the latter a load of crates and pallets, and both start out for Inuvik. The site’s derrick is loaded onto two trucks, just as in the move from Aput, but the drivers encounter a serious break in the road and must wait for a pilot car to escort them around the hazard. They reach Inuvik safely, as does Devon, who runs across some severe overflows of his own.

Eric and Hugh are still battling for the highest load count. While Hugh hauls his load at full speed, Eric has taken one half of the Langley derrick’s substructure, whose 40-ton weight forces him to stay below 15 mph. Meanwhile, Bear picks up two large tanks whose weight and physical size pose a threat to both the road and his own safety. Reaching the outskirts of Inuvik, he loses traction and has to be pulled up the last hill, after which the tanks are unloaded so that they can fit under the power lines. Rick hauls a load of dirty snow from Mallik to Tuktoyaktuk, speeding ahead even though the rough road makes driving difficult. By the time Hugh and Eric finish for the day, they are once again tied for the most loads.

Road to the Finale

Premiered on August 31, 2008. This episode provides a recap of key events from the season, with additional commentary from the truckers and previously unaired footage, and a look ahead at the finale. Added material includes:

  • While cleaning out the truck Rick brought to him in "Edge of the Earth," Alex finds a poem written by Rick. After reading it, he muses on the tendency of some truckers to wax poetic and philosophic while on the job.
  • Shaun lists the major repairs to trucks driven by Rick and blames them on his rough driving habits.
  • During a few off-hours in Inuvik, Rick gets an impromptu chiropractic adjustment from Drew.


The World Crumbles

Premiered on September 7, 2008. On the final day of the season, there are still hundreds of tons of equipment to move within 12 hours. However, the road is now awash in water and literally crumbling away beneath the truckers’ wheels. In Inuvik, Rick seizes a chance to take one last load, a loader that is to be stored at Tuktoyaktuk until next year. Since he does not know how to run a winch, he builds an improvised ramp out of boards and tries to drive the loader up it and onto his trailer, without success. Rick’s supervisor, irritated by what he sees as Rick’s season-long lack of professionalism, fires him and threatens to have him arrested if he shows up again. The incident ends up with the supervisor swinging one of the boards at the cameraman filming the scene - narrowly missing him.

At Langley, Bear picks up a camp shack and takes it to Inuvik as his last load. Drew delivers a load of groceries and a couch to Aklavik, then heads home for the year, while Devon brings a camp shack back to Inuvik. He leaves with a measure of respect from the senior truckers for successfully navigating the late-season hazards.

The rivalry between Hugh and Eric continues as both roll toward Langley. Eric is slowed down by a surprise whiteout and a lull in the action on site, but eventually picks up some rig mats and storage containers and heads back to Inuvik. Meanwhile, Hugh brings his vacuum tanker up to offload some wastewater; once he has emptied the load in Inuvik, he sets out again to drain the last full tank. Both he and Eric had planned to pull two loads today, but the road is officially closed before Eric can pick up his second, leaving Hugh at the top of the load count. Jerry confirms that Langley is completely clear and clean, and Hugh — the last driver to come in off the road — goes home with Kurt’s respect for a season of hard work.

Final load counts for the season were:
  • Drew — 9; spent most of the season driving on pavement in Inuvik
  • Alex — 22 as stated in "A Trucker's Farewell"; left early for medical reasons
  • Rick — 51; fired on the last day of the season
  • Bear — 63; hauled a total of 4 million pounds, probably the most of any driver this season
  • Eric — 67
  • Hugh — 68


Off the Ice

Premiered on September 21, 2008. This episode provides a look back at the events of the season, with additional commentary from the truckers and support personnel. Topics covered include:

  • Development of Canada's ice roads in general, and of commerce along the Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road in particular
  • Building the road and outfitting trucks to drive along it
  • The truckers' personal motivations for working in the Arctic and comparisons between there and Yellowknife
  • Each group's opinions about the other (northern and southern drivers)
  • Truckers' comments about key events of the season: Drew quitting after one day, Alex leaving due to health problems, Rick's personnel disagreements and firing, Hugh hauling sewage for most of his runs


Season 3

Deadliest Ice Road

The season premiere; original air date of May 31, 2009. The Dalton Highway (Alaska Route 11) serves as a major ice road to bring supplies nearly 500 miles from Fairbanksmarker to the Prudhoe Baymarker oil fields and offshore rigs. However, the combination of avalanches, strong Arctic winds leading to whiteouts, and unforgiving terrain has led to hundreds of accidents in past years. Six thousand loads must be moved up the road within 12 weeks before the ice melts.

At Carlile Transportation in Fairbanks, "heavy hauler" Jack Jessee is assigned an oversized modular building unit to take to Prudhoe Bay. A squad of pilot cars accompanies him to warn other drivers of his approach, but he must still contend with the other road hazards on his own. Passing a spun-out truck, he nearly suffers the same fate; a recent avalanche and sudden whiteout close the road for some time, but he does meet his delivery deadline. Along the way, word comes in that a truck has gone off the road, but the driver (a rookie on his first run) was not seriously injured and made it back to town.

Thirty-year veteran George Spears and rookie Tim Freeman, Jr. set out together for Prudhoe Bay, hauling steel housing panels and canned food, respectively. Shortly after the start of the run, Tim feels himself losing control of his truck, and he decides to abandon his load and return to Fairbanks so he can have the truck checked out. Soon afterward, though, he begins to wonder if he let his nerves get to him.

Arriving in Fairbanks, Hugh and Alex report to the Carlile headquarters for an evaluation of their driving skills in the company's trucking simulator. Hugh passes, but barely; Alex gets off to a rough start, but quickly improves and earns a passing grade as well.

Rookie Run

Original air date of June 7, 2009. Second-year driver Lisa Kelly takes a load of construction equipment, her first of the season, and sets out with the goal of reaching Deadhorse in one day. Pulling in 14 hours later, she must then negotiate the final stretch of the road over the Arctic Ocean in order to deliver her cargo to the oil fields where it is needed. Jack picks up the longest load of his career - a set of 130-foot-long pipes, which pose special difficulties in both loading and hauling. An inspection at a weigh station on the road reveals that the load is overweight and unbalanced, and he is fined $1,000 and sent back to Fairbanks to take care of these problems. The delay puts him one day behind when he heads north again.

The Fairbanks mechanics check out Tim's truck but find nothing wrong, suggesting that his inexperience was the cause of the problems he encountered on his first run attempt. He and George go north, each with a load of construction supplies; this time, he is better able to navigate the road's hazards. The flipped truck seen in the previous episode contains a load of batteries, which must be salvaged to prevent damage to the environment; after a six-hour road closure, the truck is towed back to Fairbanks and the load goes to Deadhorse. Snow and wind slow Tim and George for a while, but they deliver their loads safely.

Meanwhile in Fairbanks, Hugh and Alex undergo Carlile's week-long training program for new employees, including a drug test and a practice drive around Fairbanks, and are cleared to start making runs.

Canadian Invasion

Original air date of June 14, 2009. Now back on the road after correcting his truck's weight problem, Jack finds a pickup truck in the ditch on a steep, slick hill. A risky maneuver allows him to tow the vehicle back onto the road, and he takes his load of pipes to Deadhorse and returns to Fairbanks for his next load, an oversized pipe rack. He loses three hours waiting for a spun-out truck to move, then finds himself in the middle of a fierce Arctic storm with no choice but to keep rolling.

In Fairbanks, Lisa picks up a set of truck tires (her first oversize load) and finds that the combination of its bulk and steep, slick curves poses serious risks. As she approaches the edge of the storm, she stops to re-secure the load but is knocked over when one of the straps gives way; she then decides to wait at Coldfoot until the weather clears. Tim and George briefly lose track of each other in a blizzard, but are soon able to re-connect and keep heading north with fresh loads of construction supplies.

Hugh and Alex start their first runs up the ice, hauling loads of pipes and accompanied by Carlile safety instructors. After Hugh ignores suggestions to watch his speed on the curves, his instructor takes the wheel for the rest of the run. Alex, meanwhile, has trouble getting used to his truck's transmission; this difficulty and the brewing storm prompt his instructor to drive instead. Both of them see a flipped truck as they go through the avalanche zone and reach Deadhorse.

Blinding Whiteout

Original air date of June 21, 2009. Tim, George, and Lisa have gathered at Coldfoot to wait out the snowstorm, but Jack - the only driver on the road for the moment - pushes through it to cover the last 50 miles to Deadhorse. The weather begins to clear as he reaches town to deliver his pipe rack, but a second whiteout leaves him stuck in town for some time; after it breaks, he takes a load of 80-foot pipes out to an ocean oil rig.

Lisa's pilot car breaks down, leaving her to negotiate the final stretches of snowy tundra alone at night, but she brings her load of truck tires to Deadhorse safely. Tim and George find that Atigun Passmarker, the highest-altitude stretch of the road, is down to one lane due to the storm, and they are 12 hours behind schedule when they deliver their loads. During their drives, all three spot trucks that have gone off the road and fallen victim to the harsh road and weather conditions.

In Fairbanks, Hugh and Alex begin their first solo runs, delivering loads of pipes and driving behind Carlile veterans; Alex is delayed for some time by a broken trailer spring. Hugh nearly rear-ends his escort due to miscalculating his speed on slick downhill runs, but gets to Deadhorse safely. The delay in starting out leads Alex and his escort to stop at Coldfoot for the night.

Accident Alley

Original air date of June 28, 2009. A storm has stranded several truckers at Coldfoot overnight, and Jack and Lisa go south the next morning even before the snowplows have had a chance to clear the road. Another truck has gone off the road in the bad weather; its driver was thrown free but managed to flag someone down, and he was subsequently airlifted back to Anchorage, Alaskamarker for treatment. Lisa briefly loses her brakes and almost sideswipes a northbound truck, but she and Jack both reach Fairbanks to pick up their next loads. A recovery crew hurries in to get both the rolled truck and its load of pipes back to town without breaking a nearby natural gas line it had almost hit. Once Jack has his next load (a pipe rack), he sets out only to encounter moose on the road - one live, one dead that has to be hauled off the road by his pilot car driver.

Hugh heads south from Deadhorse, hauling an empty trailer and joking about having his lightest load ever: a three-pound bundle of paperwork. He fights a sudden whiteout, strong winds that threaten to blow him into the ditch, and rough road patches caused by buckling of the frozen earth, and rolls on toward Fairbanks. Alex starts north again from Coldfoot, but stalls out on the icy mountain stretches as he did before. When he reaches Deadhorse, he discovers a flat tire on his truck and must wait for it to be fixed before he can go south again.

Arctic Ice

Original air date of July 5, 2009. Lisa takes on her longest load ever, a set of 80-foot pipes meant for an ocean oil rig, in an effort to prove herself as a potential heavy hauler. She barely makes it out of Fairbanks ahead of the afternoon curfew for oversized loads, and must then work her way carefully along the road's turns and slopes due to the size of her trailer. After reaching Deadhorse at night, she covers the final stretch over the ocean the next day and delivers the pipes.

Meanwhile, Tim's truck has broken down on the way back to Fairbanks; he left it by the road and got a ride, and now he and a mechanic are bringing up parts for a repair job. They get the truck working, but Tim discovers that someone has stolen his tire chains and he must drive to Fairbanks without them - skidding everywhere on the road as he goes. The truck is later found to have problems with its starter, and repairs take so long that George may have to start his next run without Tim. However, both men get rolling just in time, each hauling a load of petroleum products, then run into bad weather that night and stop at Coldfoot after learning that the road has been closed.

In Fairbanks, Hugh and Alex each take on a load of pipes; Alex gets a head start on Hugh, who is delayed two hours after his escort gets into an accident. Alex successfully gets over the hill on which he stalled out in past runs, but at Coldfoot he finds that one of his tires has gone flat and peeled off its treads. With no spares on hand, he has to keep moving in order to stay on schedule, even though driving on the flat poses great risks even at low speed. Hugh passes him as a result and is the first to reach Deadhorse, with Alex arriving 35 miles behind.

Wicked Weather

Original air date of July 12, 2009. As more storms close in on the area and the road crews race to minimize the danger of avalanches, Lisa picks up her next oversized load in Fairbanks: rig mats, a steel framework, and a pickup truck. Fresh snow buildup on the road makes the turns and slopes very slick, and as she reaches Coldfoot, she learns that the north lane has been closed due to the storm and must wait there for the night.

Tim and George start out from Coldfoot, intent on getting through the mountains before the storm closes the road, and pass a wrecked truck in the ditch. They make it through Atigun Pass, but find themselves facing a 20-mile stretch of deep, fresh snowdrifts standing between them and Deadhorse; punching their way through, they deliver their loads safely.

In Deadhorse, Hugh and Alex head south, hauling a load of toxic waste and an empty trailer, respectively. Hugh hits the fog at the edge of the storm and witnesses a near-collision between a northbound snowplow and a southbound trucker trying to overtake him. At the top of Atigun, he is delayed while waiting for a spun-out wreck to be towed off the road; he and his escort occupy themselves by setting up a camp stove and cooking dinner outside, then race toward Coldfoot. Alex reaches Atigun at night and must stop to chain his tires, but his slowness with the chains prompts his escort to leave him and he has to drive Atigun alone in a near-whiteout. He does clear the area and cover the remaining 70 miles to Coldfoot safely.

Killer Pass

Original air date of July 19, 2009. Even though the Alaska Department of Transportation is working long hours to keep the road open, snowfall from the recent storms has made it very slick. In Fairbanks, Jack and fellow heavy hauler Carey Hall team up to transport a pair of huge storage tanks that must get to Deadhorse that night. Simply loading them up poses a challenge; they drop one tank in the process, but it is not damaged and they are able to head north. Encountering steep downhill runs and thick fog, and fighting fatigue on the last stretch, they bring the tanks in on time and then drive into a whiteout on the way back to Fairbanks.

In Deadhorse, Lisa picks up some flatbed trailers to take to Fairbanks. As she goes through Atigun Pass, she encounters two northbound trucks (with the right of way) skidding all over the road and barely avoids going over the side as she lets them pass. Later in the day, she has to fight her way up a steep, icy slope before delivering her trailers to the Carlile yard.

After looking over his truck in the Fairbanks garage, Alex gets a satisfactory mid-season evaluation of his driving performance, then picks up a load of construction supplies and sets off (with a new escort) for Deadhorse. In Coldfoot, he jokes about load counts with Hugh, who is going north with a light load of pipe fittings left there after the last storm. Alex gets through Atigun while a tanker with a heavy load passes him at a dangerous corner; Hugh decides not to chain his tires in this stretch, but is delayed by the crash of a tanker that did not use its chains. Both reach Deadhorse safely and Alex starts back with an empty trailer, while Hugh waits for his escort to get ready so he can bring back some flatbeds.

Turn and Burn

Original air date of July 26, 2009. With only a few weeks left in the ice road season, the pressure is on to move critical supplies up to the oil fields. Tim and George continue to push south toward Fairbanks and pull in after four more hours of driving through whiteouts. As George waits for repairs on his truck, Tim gets a load of cable spools and prepares to ride in front, practice for eventually making solo runs. Once the two get on the road, Tim finds that his taillights are out and is unable to get them working; he is thus forced to return to Fairbanks, leaving George to go north alone.

Jack and Lisa form a convoy of their own and start for Deadhorse, he with a three-tanker load of diesel fuel, she with some containers and rig mats. He shows her a new technique for shifting gears on the ice, but she has some trouble getting used to it and decides to practice it later. Lisa's taillights also malfunction, but an impromptu repair suggested by Jack allows her to continue on for the time being. They stop at Coldfoot for the night and find sheep on the road the next day before reaching Deadhorse and delivering their loads. A report comes in of an overturned tanker at the south end of the road, and recovery crews hurry to drain its fuel cargo and get the wreck off the road before traffic backs up.

Meanwhile, as Hugh brings a cargo container south from Deadhorse, he stops for a truck weighing and log book inspection. The log is out of compliance, and he receives a citation with a $200 fine and a one-day suspension. Alex is momentarily stuck in Coldfoot, with a load of drill pipes and without an escort, but George soon arrives and offers to ride with him. The trip takes longer than Alex would like due George's relatively slow driving speed, and Alex nearly runs into a pickup truck that suddenly stops dead on the road for some time before starting off again. When the two drivers reach Deadhorse and unload, Alex is ready to start back right away, but George overrules him and says they will stay for the night.

Ocean Run

Original air date of August 2, 2009. In Fairbanks, Jack gets an early start to haul a critical load of oil additive to a pipeline pumping station 250 miles up the road by noon. The liquid sloshes back and forth in its tanker, making it hard for him to stay in control on the slopes, and upon reaching the station, he has to adjust his suspension so that his truck will not tear up the unloading platform. The additive goes into the pipeline just in time and he heads south again.

Lisa, Tim, and George set up a convoy - Lisa taking rig mats and a pickup truck to an ocean oil rig, Tim and George hauling Styrofoam insulation panels to Deadhorse. Lisa's preference for faster driving leads Tim and George to put her in front; she soon gets in trouble, stops dead on an uphill run, and has to restart from the bottom as trucks back up behind her. Once they reach Deadhorse, Tim and George unload and start back to Fairbanks, while Lisa crosses the ocean to deliver her cargo.

Reaching Deadhorse, Alex picks up a loader and grinder bound for Fairbanks, but encounters buckled spots in the road which shake his trailer so badly that the straps on his load loosen and break. After tying it down again, he approaches the weigh station where Hugh was cited and stops to check his own log book and the height of his load. It is too tall to drive through town, so he decides to stay here until the next day and get a lower trailer. Hugh, in Coldfoot, picks up a load of drill pipe and makes a fast start north, but a slow-moving caribou in the road slows him down for a while. As he reaches Atigun Pass, his escort allows him to ride in front and send back warnings of oncoming traffic, after which he reaches Deadhorse safely.

Busted Parts & Breakdowns

Original air date of August 9, 2009. With perhaps two weeks left in the season and 300 loads left to move, the truckers face a new challenge: the volcanic eruption of Mount Redoubt, which has grounded all air traffic and shut down the state's oil refineries. The Dalton Highway is left as the North Slope's only supply route for the time being. Jack prepares to take a load of badly needed diesel fuel from Fairbanks to Deadhorse, but he and a mechanic must first free a frozen axle on the trailer. The thawing road has become very rough and slippery; he barely clears a dangerous hairpin turn and an oncoming truck at the same time. Driving well into the night and battling fatigue, he brings the fuel into town safely.

In Deadhorse, Lisa picks up some used batteries and an airline passenger who found herself stranded in town when the flights stopped running. She starts out for Fairbanks, but soon discovers a serious fuel leak and is forced to stop in an area out of radio contact. Several other truckers stop to help and get her rig running by changing out a broken fuel line. Though the cab is now full of nausea-inducing diesel fumes due to the leak, Lisa completes her run to Fairbanks.

Hugh and Alex are both briefly sidelined by mechanical problems. Hugh, in Fairbanks, must wait until his exhaust system is fixed before he can haul a load of pipes. In Deadhorse, Alex has to get a flat tire repaired, then has to drain the antifreeze from the disabled truck cab he must take to Fairbanks. As both approach Atigun Pass, Hugh struggles to chain his tires on the wet, muddy road, but Alex gets the job done much more quickly than in the past. Hugh's brakes fail on a steep downhill stretch, and he gets them to work just in time to avoid going over the cliffs. He delivers the pipes to Deadhorse, but finds no new loads waiting and must stay for the night. Alex loses engine power on a hill near Fairbanks; his escort finds a clogged air filter and does a rough repair job that allows him to make it into town.

Race for the Finish

Original air date of August 16, 2009. A spring storm brings wind and snow, making the rapidly thawing road even more dangerous in the final days of the season. In Fairbanks, Lisa picks up a load of construction supplies, but a problem with the trailer's air brakes forces her to leave it and take a trailer full of explosives instead. Reaching the hill where she spun out two episodes ago, she tries a new strategy that allows her to climb it successfully; after clearning the windy Atigun Pass, she arrives in Deadhorse with her load intact.

While hauling his empty fuel trailer back from Deadhorse, Jack loses traction on Atigun and is briefly stranded until a snowplow stops to tow him up to the summit. He has further trouble sliding on the bridge over the Yukon Rivermarker, but gets to Fairbanks safely. Tim and George haul trailers of their own out of Deadhorse and push ahead so as not to get caught in the approaching storm. They reach Fairbanks the following day, and George believes that Tim is almost ready to start doing runs on his own.

Alex, heading north toward Coldfoot with a load of pipes bound for Deadhorse, hears that his escort has an oil leak and stops to check it out. The truck has a broken line and cannot be driven, so they leave it by the road and stay in Coldfoot for the night. The next day, they replace the line and return to Coldfoot to wait out the storm with Hugh, who is taking construction supplies to Fairbanks. Each runs into challenges - snow and fog on Atigun for Alex, sleet and a slick, steep uphill run for Hugh - and makes it to his destination safely.

Arctic Thaw

The season finale; original air date of August 23, 2009. With two days left in the season, the truckers rush to take their last loads before the road disintegrates completely. Tim picks up a load of pipes and sets out from Fairbanks on his first solo run, while Lisa heads south from Deadhorse with a load of hazardous waste. Her trip becomes extremely dangerous due to an air leak that disables her trailer brakes. She and Tim meet in Coldfoot, and he stops the leak well enough for her to reach Fairbanks and close out the season. Tim crosses Atigun Pass, now dotted with patches of black ice, and finishes his run to Deadhorse.

George and Alex head north with a load of construction supplies and three pickup trucks, respectively. George's slow pace continues to frustrate Alex, who still wants to get ahead of Hugh's load count, and George eventually lets Alex drive in front so he can complete his last run as soon as possible. Hugh develops major brake trouble on the way to Fairbanks, but he and his escort are able to patch up the truck and nurse it back to town for an overnight repair job. The next day, Hugh takes on construction supplies and is almost to Deadhorse before running into a traffic jam caused by trucks stuck in the snowdrifts. Once the backlog is cleared, he brings in his load and goes home with the respect of his superiors at Carlile for mastering the road's challenges in his first year on it.

Upon reaching Deadhorse and delivering his load, George decides to end his ice road career, though other truckers wonder aloud if he is serious about that decision. Jack picks up a tanker of diesel fuel in Fairbanks and makes it as far as Coldfoot that day. The next morning, he continues north toward a remote island oil rig, only to be stopped by the presence of polar bears on the ocean ice road; they move off just in time for him to deliver the fuel and get off the road, the last driver to do so.

Final load counts:
  • Jack - 20
  • George - 15
  • Lisa - 15
  • Hugh - 14
  • Alex - 13
  • Tim - 11


Ice road route, stops and destinations

Season 1 (Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road)

The first portion of the road is on pavement, following the Ingraham Trail for roughly 60 km (37 mi) until it reaches the shore of Tibbitt Lakemarker.



  • Dome Lake Camp - A maintenance camp, 22 miles (35 km) past the start of the ice portion of the road. T.J. is forced to stop here when his injury flares up; he is then airlifted back to Yellowknife for treatment.


  • Lockhart Lake Rest Stop - Provides catering and other services for truckers.






  • BHP Ekati Diamond Minemarker ~200 miles (300 km) Northeast of Yellowknife - The northernmost stop seen on camera during this season. The road continues roughly 125 miles (200 km) past here, serving two additional mines and stopping at the north end of Contwoyto Lakemarker.


  • Colomac Minemarker - A closed gold mine that was recently cleaned up due to the risk the mine’s toxic materials presented to the environment. Now that the cleanup is finished, truckers (including Alex) are being called in to haul away equipment.


  • Tundra Minemarker - A gold mine that stopped production in 1968 and is now undergoing environmental cleanup. Equipment from the Colomac Mine is being transferred here to assist workers with the cleanup.




Season 2 (Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road)



  • Mallik - An exploration site that encompasses fields of natural gas hydrates. By the end of the season, the crews working here succeed in extracting gas from these formations.


  • Aput - A natural gas exploration site set up by MGM Energy; later found to contain no significant deposits, whereupon the entire camp is moved 50 miles to Langley (see below).


  • Langley - MGM's second and last exploration site of the year; proves to hold sizable deposits.






  • Wurmlinger and Arctic Star - Two ice-locked barges that serve as headquarters for crews in the field. In the summer the Wurmlinger carries goods around.


Season 3 (Dalton Highway)

  • Fairbanks, Alaskamarker - Home of Carlile Transportation, the main trucking company featured in Season 3.


  • Coldfoot, Alaskamarker - Home of the only rest stop on the Dalton Highway, serving as a stopping point for truckers when bad weather closes the road.


  • Deadhorse, Alaskamarker - Northern terminus of the Dalton Highway. An ice road extends north from here over the Arctic Ocean, allowing truckers to reach the offshore oil rigs.


Season 2

The mining companies that owned the road where the first season was filmed felt that the show portrayed the road in a negative fashion. They felt that the show depicted drivers as cowboys making a mad dash for money and taking excessive risks to do so. Also the companies felt that the cameras and filming created distractions for the drivers (Drew walking to the back of the truck to get a coffee cup without stopping on Camera). As a result, the owners decided not to participate in future seasons of the show. A new rule for the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Roads was enacted for the 2008 season, prohibiting commercial, media, video or rolling film cameras either inside or attached to the outside of vehicles. The show's producers located an alternate ice road for the second season of the show.

Season 2 premiered on June 8, 2008, following the drivers on the Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road between Inuvikmarker and Tuktoyaktukmarker in Canada's Northwest Territoriesmarker. Hugh, Alex, Drew, and Rick take part as "highway maggots" (rookies on this road), working alongside the more experienced drivers.

There were these differences in style between Season 1 and Season 2:
  • A main theme of Season 1 was "the dash for the cash", which was never mentioned in Season 2, but is a main theme in Season 3.
  • In Season 1 companies' insignia on trucks and men's safety helmets were routinely blurred out. In Season 2 they were left visible.


Season 3

Season 3 of Ice Road Truckers covers the Dalton Highway, which connects Fairbanks, Alaskamarker, Coldfoot, Alaskamarker, and Deadhorse, Alaskamarker near Prudhoe Baymarker, as well as ice roads constructed over the Arctic Ocean in the Prudhoe Bay area. The tagline for the season is "In the Dark Heart of Alaska, there's a road where hell has frozen over".

Feature film

In 2008, Twentieth Century Fox acquired rights from the History Channel to create a scripted, theatrical action film based on the series.

See also



References

  1. History.com About the Ice Road Truckers series
  2. Kaplan, Don, "BACK ON THE 'ICE ROAD'", New York Post, April 2, 2008
  3. 'Ice Road Truckers' debut sets The History Channel ratings records - Reality TV World - News, information, episode summaries, message boards, chat and games for unscripted television programs
  4. Buckman, Adam. "Slide Show: 'Ice Road Truckers' Take Thrilling Glide", The New York Post, June 23, 2007
  5. Heffernan, Virginia, "Honk? No, Pray if You Hear a Loud Crack", The New York Times, June 22, 2007
  6. Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road 2008 orientation materials http://jvtcwinterroad.ca/Orientation/Part4.PDF
  7. http://www.history.com/content/iceroadtruckers-season-three/about-the-series
  8. Fleming, Michael. "Fox drives 'Truckers' to bigscreen", Variety. February 12, 2008


External links




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