Ice Road Truckers is a reality television series that premiered on History on June 17, 2007. It features the activities of drivers who operate trucks on seasonal routes crossing frozen lakes and rivers in remote frozen territories in Canada and Alaska. In the first few seasons the long haul semi trucks operated mainly in Alaska and the Canadian Northwest Territories. But in the last few seasons the truckers have discovered the area of North America with the most ice roads and also the most treacherous. The Canadian province of Manitoba.
Many of Manitoba’s isolated Native communities in the central and northern part of the province do not have access to year round roads or rail lines. The Native reserves are located in areas of thick forest and thousands of lakes. Therefore the winter roads are the only way to get supplies up to those communities. Thousands of tons of freight is hauled to the communities during the short winter road season, usually January, February and the first half of March. Once the melt starts, the roads disintegrate. Hundreds of kilometres of the ice roads are just that, roads running on frozen lakes. When the lake ice starts to melt it can be quite hazardous.
Manitoba Winter Road Map
I have always wondered what kind of support the truckers receive when they are out in the bush hundreds of miles from nowhere. When old grizzled God-fearing trucker Alex Debogorski is hauling across a frozen lake what back-up does he have when the ice starts cracking? While Alex is praying to the heavens to keep him dry there is always cameras shooting his movement from many different angles, some from outside his semi truck.
And when foul mouthed trucker Art Burke is swearing like a drunken sailor because he took a wrong turn and is 300 miles in the opposite direction of where he should be, a helicopter is filming his semi’s movement from a thousand feet up. When Art starts getting bleeped out by the program censors because of his obscene and indescribably vulgar diatribes he is talking to somebody who is riding with him. And when Art runs out of fuel and he is pacing around in the snow there are two different cameras capturing his every lewd gesture.
How isolated and in potential peril are the Ice Road Truckers? A recent photo seems to shed some light on this question.
The back-up and support package that shadows the Ice Trucks is extensive. Middle: Polar Industries truck driven by swear-master Art Burke; middle left: two F-350 Ford pick-ups providing mobile camera footage from different angles outside the truck; top left: Jet ranger helicopter that doubles as a camera platform and air ambulance; bottom left: the main satellite receiving central processing television truck; bottom right; 4-wheel drive ambulance with defibrillators, body thaw-out receptacles and neuro-cryogenicist surgeons; middle right: super-heavy X-1000 Mack telescopic arm tow recovery vehicle, and for good measure, a high-speed all-terrain mobile crane. Just in case a semi needs to be plucked out of a very deep lake.
In my opinion I’d say the Ice Truckers are covered pretty good for any contingency.