ice road truckers (2/10)
This new series reveals the virtually unknown occupation of ice road trucking in Canada’s Northwest Territory, one of the world’s most dangerous jobs. In the second episode, the heaviest load of the season is delivered to the De Beers diamond mine in the form of a 17-ton water tank; Hugh Rowland competes with his colleague Rick Yemm to make the most deliveries; and the ice truckers try their luck on the region’s most notorious stretch of road.
The small town of Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territory is home to the fascinating but little-known ice trucking industry. Every year, engineers build ice roads on top of the region’s many frozen lakes to withstand the weight of massive trucks, which deliver supplies to and from the territory’s diamond mines. The Canadian diamond industry is the third largest in the world and rakes in $1.9 billion a year – making the ice truckers a crucial part of the country’s economy.
For these hardy truckers, plying the ice roads can be a lucrative profession – if they can cope with freezing temperatures, harsh weather and the everpresent threat of ice cracking under their wheels. They provide the only connection to remote settlements in virtually impenetrable terrain, putting their lives and the financial security of their families at risk in an exhilarating dash for cash.
In tonight’s episode, trucker Jay Westgard hauls a 17-ton water tank over ice only 31-inches thick to the De Beers diamond mine. This is the heaviest load to travel the frozen highway this season and it stresses both the driver and the ice. Jay is extremely careful not to drive too fast for fear that the weight of his load might create a wave under the ice that could break through and damage the road. After some tense moments, Jay arrives safely and gains an extremely rare glimpse into the operation of a remote diamond mine in the tundra.
Meanwhile, the rivalry is heating up between ice-road veteran Hugh Rowland and his employee Rick Yemm as they compete for the highest load count. But when Hugh’s truck breaks down and has to go into the garage for a transmission repair, Rick pounces on the opportunity to take the lead.
Elsewhere, arctic divers are training for a season of cold-water emergencies. When things go wrong on the ice road, these are the men who get the call. The divers help recover trucks, cargo and, in the worst case scenario, bodies.
Also this week, the ice truckers take their first spin out on the most notorious expanse of road, ‘Charlie’s Hill’. In a freezing wasteland in the middle of nowhere, the drivers manage to cause a traffic jam on the ice. As one trucker tries to gain traction, he only digs himself in deeper, causing trucks to back up in a line on the frozen lakes. This is a perilous place to have idling engines, as vibrations can stress the ice to its breaking point…