Axe Men Series Premiere

Friday 13th November 8.00pm

The documentary series that explores the treacherous work of loggers in the Pacific Northwest returns. This new series follows five logging companies as they battle tough terrain, wet weather and harsh conditions to rip precious timber from the hillsides. The first episode looks back at highlights from series one and introduces new faces, including tree fellers who specialise in aqua logging and helicopter logging.

Deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, rugged men make their living doing one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Their mission is to retrieve valuable timber perched on steep mountainsides, using a combination of skill, daring and heavy machinery.

These larger-than-life characters spend their days among towering trees and powerful machines and their nights in outposts far from the comforts of civilisation. Many of the men belong to logging families that date back to the early 19th century when the American West was first settled.

The second series of ‘Axe Men’ follows five crews through a season in the Oregon and Washington forests as they compete for their share of the logging fortune. Plagued by mechanical failures, relentless weather and unpredictable terrain, these fearless men risk their lives to retrieve the timber upon which the country depends.

Two of the companies from series one, Pihl and JM Browning Logging, return to face competition from three new crews – S&S Aqua Logging, Rygaard Logging and R&R Conner Aviation.

As the season begins, the tree fellers learn that one of the breakthrough techniques from last year, helicopter logging, will be a mainstay of the new season. This innovative technique involves using a chopper to harvest pre-cut trees from the hillside. Helicopter logging can have less environmental impact because it speeds up the process and removes the need to build so many access roads. However, the risk of strong winds and flying debris means that it can be extremely hazardous to pilots and loggers. Of the new teams, R&R Conner are experts in this form of logging.

Also new this season is an approach called aqua logging, which entails recovering logs from riverbeds. These tree trunks were abandoned by loggers over a century ago and are now perfectly preserved. The naturally cured logs provide stressed timber ideal for making luxury furniture and musical instruments. S&S Aqua, run by father and son Jimmy and James, are pioneers in this field. Their commitment is to never cut down a live tree – but can they realise profits from this endeavour?

This time around, the axe men also face the bite of the worldwide recession, which has devastated the US housing market and building industry, with a knock-on effect on the timber business. Alongside the practical hardships and difficulties they face, the axe men are fighting an unforgiving economic climate. With budgets tight and delays costly, mistakes on the hillside could risk not just life and limb, but also the very futures of these logging companies.

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