Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers (commercially abbreviated IRT) is an American reality television series that premiered on History Channel, on June 17, 2007. It features the activities of drivers who operate trucks on seasonal routes crossing frozen lakes and rivers, in remote Arctic territories in Canada and Alaska. Seasons 3–6 also featured Alaska's improved but still remote Dalton Highway, which is mainly snow-covered solid ground. The newest seasons are mainly focused on Manitoba's winter roads. The series' eleventh season finished airing on November 9, 2017.
|Ice Road Truckers|
|Narrated by||Thom Beers|
Tom Cotcher (UK)
|Theme music composer||Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Mark Hudson|
|Opening theme||"Livin' on the Edge" by Aerosmith (Seasons 1 – 4 only)|
|Country of origin||Canada|
|No. of seasons||11|
|No. of episodes||138 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||45 – 48 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Original Productions|
Prospero Media (season 8)
Shaw Media (season 8)
|Original release||June 17, 2007 –|
November 9, 2017
In 2000, History aired a 46-minute episode titled "Ice Road Truckers" as part of the Suicide Missions (later Dangerous Missions) series. Based on Edith Iglauer's book Denison's Ice Road, the episode details the treacherous job of driving trucks over frozen lakes, also known as ice roads, in Canada's Northwest Territories. 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 book. 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 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 Netherlands. In Italy the first season premiered on History Channel on January 7, 2010 as "Gli eroi del ghiaccio" (English: Heroes of the ice).
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 Channel 5 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. Channel Five debuted series 3 on January 5, 2010.
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 United Kingdom, Australia and various countries in Africa.
The show opening features a truck falling through the ice. While real accidents with fatal outcomes might be mentioned, the show has never featured them and indeed, the show opening is a miniature model filmed inside a studio. A season 1 rumor that the sequence was staged using a real truck and dynamite caused discontent among the drivers.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||10||June 17, 2007||August 19, 2007|
|2||13||June 8, 2008||September 7, 2008|
|3||13||May 31, 2009||August 23, 2009|
|4||16||June 6, 2010||October 3, 2010|
|5||16||June 5, 2011||September 25, 2011|
|6||16||June 3, 2012||September 23, 2012|
|7||12||June 9, 2013||August 25, 2013|
|8||12||July 7, 2014||September 28, 2014|
|9||10||August 2, 2015||October 18, 2015|
|10||10||August 4, 2016||October 6, 2016|
|11||10||August 24, 2017||November 9, 2017|
|Tim Freeman Jr.||Main|
|Darrell Ward Ϯ Aug 28th, 2016||Main|
The mining companies that owned the road where the first season was filmed felt the show portrayed the road in a negative fashion. They believed the show depicted drivers as cowboys making a mad dash for money and taking excessive risks to do so. Also, the companies felt the cameras and filming created distractions for the drivers. As a result, the owners decided not to participate in future seasons of the show, and 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. In response, the show's producers located an alternate ice road for season 2.
There were several differences in style among Seasons 1, 2, and 3:
- A main theme of Season 1 was "the dash for the cash", which was rarely 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.
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.— Thom Beers, opening of the show, season 1
The series premiered on June 17, 2007. Six ice road truckers are introduced, and are described as men driving eighteen-wheelers who haul equipment and supplies from Yellowknife, Canada, across a temporary road composed of portages and frozen lakes, to one of three diamond mines northeast of Yellowknife. The final episode in season one premiered on August 19, 2007.
The season was one of the most successful 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.)
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 Rowland, Debogorski, 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.
- Hugh 'The Polar Bear' Rowland (born 1957): A very rough-around-the-edges, 20-year veteran of ice-road trucking, based in Kelowna in southern British Columbia. He is of French descent and claims to be known by the ice road trucking community as "The Polar Bear", which he says refers to his overbearing, annoying personality, bearish attitude, stamina, and consistently high number of loads delivered per season. Rowland owns four trucks and drives one; the other three are manned by ice road rookies Drew Sherwood, Todd White, and Rowland's associate and year-round employee Rick Yemm. Rowland's trucks all have the emblem R&R Hoe Service on the doors – the company Rowland owns in Kelowna (actually Winfield, BC).
During the course of Season 1, all three of Rowland's hired drivers end up prematurely leaving the ice road. White was banished for excessive speeding (episode 5), Yemm left following heated disagreements about the working condition of Rowland's trucks (episode 9), and Sherwood left after several vehicle breakdowns (episode 7).
Rowland's truck is called "The Crow's Nest" and is kept in good condition, as was Yemm's truck, besides the heater (as seen throughout the season). The trucks driven by Sherwood and White had a multitude of mechanical problems. After Sherwood's departure, Rowland hired a fourth driver named Danny Reese. In the final episode of the first season, Rowland's luck finally ran out when his truck was sideswiped by another trucker on the ice road, knocking a driving axle off the chassis. He ended up finishing the season in the truck originally driven by Yemm.
- Rick Yemm: One of 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, Yemm 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 Rowland, the truck's owner, and Yemm, who expected Rowland to take care of the problem so that he could continue hauling loads without risking severe frostbite. Yemm ultimately quit and returned home, feeling his friend was not fulfilling his responsibilities to maintain the trucks.
Yemm is known for being hard on the trucks by constantly beating on them. In one episode, Yemm is seen bouncing up and down, pumping the accelerator pedal up and down, and messing with the steering wheel, all the while facing the camera and saying "yee-haw motha fucker!"
- Alex Debogorski: A legend in the ice road trucking community, and 2007 marked Debogorski's 26th year as an ice road trucker. Debogorski has 11 children and nine grandchildren, and is a year-round resident of Yellowknife. As stated in Season 1, since he has been a staple driving the ice roads, it is something of a good-luck charm for Debogorski to pull the first load over the ice roads at the beginning of every season. He is such a devout Catholic that by season 9, when he joined long-time rival Hugh Rowland's company in Canada, Debogorski had "The Preacher Man" emblazoned on the side of his truck. (Polish Dębogórski means "coming from or living at Oak Mountain".)
In Season 2, Debogorski had to leave early because of illness (a pulmonary embolism) as seen in episode 8, "A Trucker’s Farewell".
- Jay Westgard: Westgard is also a year-round resident of Yellowknife. Despite his relative youth (he is 25 years old), Westgard is considered by the ice road community as the most talented driver of his generation (as mentioned in the premiere). He began driving trucks at age 16 and owned his first truck by age 18; at the time of his introduction on IRT, 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 48-ton ore scrubber. He also agrees to drive in a convoy (led by Mike Kimball) hauling vital jet fuel to remote Deline—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 newspaper. Early on he struggles with an older truck that lacks 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's 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. 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 (as mentioned in the finale). He leaves with the respect and admiration of his fellow ice road veterans.
- Drew Sherwood: Sherwood is a veteran trucker but an ice road rookie. He joined Rowland’s team after answering an advertisement in the local newspaper. Early on, Sherwood expresses a high degree of confidence that he will have no problems adjusting from highway to ice driving. Rowland considers Sherwood an arrogant rookie and a "one year driver". In the series premiere, Sherwood states: "I have no intention of going into a ditch, bro", after which he soon gets stuck in a ditch later in that episode, a humbling lesson in how much respect the ice road demands.
Sherwood's hard luck, unfortunately, did not stop there, and he 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. Sherwood 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 (as seen in episode 7). Hugh Rowland, the truck's owner, and Lee Parkinson, Rowland's mechanic, blamed many of these mechanical problems squarely on Sherwood. Sherwood ultimately decides enough is enough and leaves the ice roads to return home.
- Todd White: White (aka "Chains") worked for Hugh Rowland. He comes from Canada's eastern coast, and is a self-proclaimed trucker and singer. He responded to an ad that Rowland placed and was hired as part of his crew after a seven-year absence from ice road trucking. One of the main reasons White returned to ice road trucking was the need to earn $20,000 to repair his own truck. White was banned from ice road trucking after a speeding violation where he was clocked at 63 km/h (39 mph) in a 40 km/h (25 mph) zone. White appealed, claiming that he missed a speed limit sign, but his appeal was denied. After White left, Sherwood drove his truck.
- Danny Reese: Shortly after Sherwood's departure, Rowland hired Reese to take over the truck vacated by Sherwood after it had finally received a new ECM (as seen in episode 8). Reese quickly noticed that the truck "had its quirks", which included problems with the truck's turbo similar to those Sherwood had experienced with this truck.
- Tom Tweed: Tweed is a dispatcher for Tli Cho Landtran in Yellowknife.
- Rick Fitch: Fitch is a projects manager for Tli Cho Landtran, responsible for scheduling client loads. He is seen responding to several accidents in the series. Fitch has been working on the ice road for over 20 years.
- Ken Murray: Murray 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's being banned for the rest of the season. Truck weights are also checked to ensure they will not over-stress the ice; a driver with an overweight truck can be fined several hundred dollars.
- Lee Parkinson: Parkinson operates a garage in Yellowknife. He is the busiest mechanic in the north (as mentioned in the premiere) and works with his journeyman Mark Chang.
- 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 to monitor and police the drivers on the road so that rules are not violated and the truckers are not kicked off the road.
Route and destinations
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 Lake.
- Yellowknife, Northwest Territories: Loads are assigned here.
- Dome Lake Camp: A maintenance camp, located 22 mi (35 km) past the start of the ice portion of the winter road. Tilcox is forced to stop here when his injury flares up; he is then airlifted back to Yellowknife for treatment (episode 7).
- Lockhart Lake Rest Stop: Lockhart provides catering and other services for truckers.
- De Beers Snap Lake Diamond Mine: About 220 km (140 mi) northeast of Yellowknife.
- Diavik Diamond Mine: About 300 mi (480 km) north of Yellowknife.
- BHP Ekati Diamond Mine: About 310 km (190 mi) northeast of Yellowknife, the northernmost stop seen on camera during this season. The road continues roughly 125 mi (201 km) past here, serving two defunct mines and stopping at the north end of Contwoyto Lake in Nunavut.
- Colomac Mine: 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 Debogorski) are being called in to haul away equipment.
- Tundra Mine: 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.
- Deline, Northwest Territories: A small village, on the shore of Great Bear Lake, that depends on jet fuel shipments over the ice road to keep its airport operating.
Season 2 premiered on June 8, 2008, following the drivers on the Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road, a 194 km (121 mi) extension of the Dempster Highway between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk in Canada's Northwest Territories. Rowland, Debogorski, Sherwood, and Yemm take part as "highway maggots" (rookies on this road), working alongside the more experienced drivers.
At the top of the world, there's an outpost like no other…and a job only a few would dare. The ice men return: two titans of the southern ice roads, and two contenders. Last season they drove loaded semis on frozen lakes…this year, the Arctic Ocean. Deeper into the deep freeze. Further out on thinner ice. The new mission: to haul the heavy metal of natural gas drilling rigs up a frozen river and across ice-choked seas. Ice road truckers have come to the edge of the earth. These are the men who make their living on thin ice.— Thom Beers, opening of the show, season 2
The season premiere aired on June 8, 2008. As the ice road from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk is completed, drivers converge on Inuvik for the start of the year's transport season. Debogorski, Rowland, Yemm, and Sherwood 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 River and over parts of the Arctic Ocean, visiting Aput and Later Langley rigs with long stretches in which drivers are out of radio contact. The final regular episode premiered on September 7, 2008.
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: Sherwood quitting after one day, Debogorski leaving due to health problems, Yemm's personnel disagreements and firing, Rowland hauling sewage for most of his runs
Debogorski, Rowland, Sherwood, and Yemm take part in this season as "highway maggots"—rookies on the ice road from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk. The following experienced truckers are also profiled.
- Eric Dufresne: A 46-year-old native of Montreal, now a resident of Faro, Yukon, 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 −30 °F (−34 °C).
- Bear Swensen: Born in Saskatchewan, Swensen 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 Dufresne, he frequently pulls heavier-than-average loads.
- Jordan Fedosoff: The manager of Matco's Inuvik branch office, Fedosoff was born in Saskatchewan and raised between the fields of Saskatchewan and the city of Montreal. He began working in the trucking industry in 1981. He has driven and worked in Inuvik since 1995. He has vast experience in the Mackenzie Valley and the Dempster Highway. Sherwood worked for him in season 2.
- Doug Saunders: Saunders is the operations manager for E. Gruben's Transport, the company that hires Debogorski and Yemm. He considers Yemm to be one of his more "high-maintenance" drivers, in terms of Yemm'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 Yemm's trucks several times during the season. As a result, his opinion of Yemm 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 Dufresne, sometimes require his help to get from the edge of town to the freight yard. His cousin Isaac drives with Rowland 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 Sherwood shortly after the season begins. He rides with Sherwood on a training run to help him get used to driving the Arctic ice roads. Brown grew up in Montreal and began driving trucks in 1983; he has worked the ice roads since 1993.
- Devon Neff: A rookie driver on the ice roads who works for Mullen, Neff 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.
Route and destinations
Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road
- Inuvik, Northwest Territories: Loads are assigned here to be transported north.
- 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.
- Aklavik, Northwest Territories: A small hamlet, on the Mackenzie River delta, that depends on the ice road for delivery of needed supplies.
- Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories: Loads (e.g. backhauls) are assigned here to be transported south.
- 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.
Final load counts
- Sherwood — 9; spent most of the season driving on pavement in Inuvik
- Debogorski — 22 as stated in "A Trucker's Farewell"; left early for medical reasons
- Yemm — 51; fired on the last day of the season
- Swensen — 63; hauled a total of 4 million pounds, probably the most of any driver this season
- Dufresne — 67
- Rowland — 68
Season 3 of Ice Road Truckers covers the Dalton Highway, which connects Fairbanks, Alaska, Coldfoot, Alaska, and Deadhorse, Alaska near Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, 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". In this season the 2009 Mount Redoubt eruptive activity caused complications; the truckers had to carry many loads which were intended for flight, but the planes could not fly because of volcanic ash in the air.
At the top of the world, there's a job only a few would dare. Last season, the dash for the cash was fought on the smooth playing field of Canada's Arctic ice. This season, two old pros join four of America's bravest truckers to tackle the tundra's deadliest ice passage. Just when you thought extreme trucking couldn't get more dangerous, ice road truckers take on Alaska. These are the men who make their living on thin ice.— Thom Beers, opening of the show, season 3
The season premiered on May 31, 2009. The Dalton Highway (Alaska Route 11) serves as the only road link between Alaska's populated areas down south and the oil rigs of the arctic north, to bring supplies nearly 500 mi (800 km) from Fairbanks to the Prudhoe Bay 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 the past years. Two thousand loads must be moved up the road within 12 weeks, before the ice melts on the Arctic Ocean.
The season finale aired on August 23, 2009.
Rowland and Debogorski take part in this season as newcomers to the Dalton Highway in Alaska, working alongside the following local drivers at Carlile Transportation.
- Jack Jessee: A 38-year-old veteran driver and Virginia native, Jessee 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 website, he offers this opinion about driving the Alaska roads: "You learn the road really fast… or you end up dead."
- George Spears: Spears, 59, is a respected veteran driver in Alaska. He has been driving the ice roads for 29 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 this season, his 30th.
- Lisa Kelly: A former school bus driver and state Freestyle Motocross champion, Kelly is starting her second year on the ice roads. At 28, she is the youngest female driver this year, and hopes to earn the veteran truckers’ respect and become Carlile's first female heavy hauler. In Season 4, the Wasilla resident stated that she had to sell the first horse she ever kept as a pet and was trying to earn enough money to buy it back, a goal she eventually accomplished.
- Tim Freeman Jr.: A 23-year-old ice road rookie from Blackduck, Minnesota, Freeman 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 Louisiana, 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 Jessee to deliver a pair of enormous storage tanks.
- Phil Kromm: A 15-year veteran fuel-hauler from Alaska, Phil is also in charge of safety, recruitment, and driver training to get rookie drivers accustomed to the Dalton Highway (most notably Debogorski in Season 3, and Redmon and Sieber in Season 5). He is also Lane Keator’s advisor on rookie progression. Despite his never being a main character in any of the future seasons, he plays a vital role in rookie training and has a hand in determining some of the rookies' being fired. (Fellow veteran driver Tony Molesky rides with Rowland on his first trip up the Dalton, and joined the cast in Season 5.)
- Jack McCahan: Veteran Carlile driver who serves as one of Debogorski's escorts until he gets fed up with Alex's "rookie s***" in that he takes so long to chain up his tires.
- Lane Keator: Fairbanks Terminal Manager for Carlile. Among his responsibilities are making the final decisions on hiring, firing, promoting and demoting drivers.
- Tim Rickards: Fairbanks Dispatcher for Carlile. He assigns loads for the drivers.
- Jerid Lane: Mechanic at Carlile’s Fairbanks repair shop. He keeps the trucks running.
- Roberta Klema: Driving instructor for Carlile Fairbanks. She puts new drivers through a driving simulator to familiarize them with the Kenworth tractors Carlile uses, as well as a preview of conditions they’ll face when driving the Dalton.
- John McCoy: Driving instructor for Carlile Fairbanks. He gives physical road tests to new drivers behind the wheel of a typical Kenworth cab and trailer.
- Harry McDonald: Carlile CEO. In episode 1, he describes the challenge they face this season moving 2,000 loads to Prudhoe Bay in 60 days, and gives a very brief history of the company he co-founded with his brother in 1980 in episode 4.
- Greg Thompson: Carlile Heavy Haul Manager. In episode 2, he says that they need "the best of the best" drivers for hauling special loads like Jessee does, "because a lot of guys won’t do it, they’re afraid of it".
- Reid Bahnson: Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities avalanche technician. He leads a crew that triggers avalanches so natural ones are less likely to impact truckers and freight on the Dalton. His weapon of choice is a Korean War-era recoilless rifle that shoots 8-lb TNT mortars into avalanche chutes.
- Donald Adkins: Grader operator for Alaska DoT&PF. He helps prepare and maintain the Dalton for the truckers, and helps pull out those who get stuck in snowdrifts.
- Ken Bear: Plow driver for Alaska DoT&PF. He is one of many who plow the Dalton after snowstorms and avalanches.
- Dan Schok: Project engineer for Flowline, supplier of the 34-inch-diameter 130-foot-long pipe being transported by Jessee in episode 2.
- Ben Kryzkowski: Owner of Ben’s Towing. He has 25 years of experience removing wrecked trucks from the Dalton.
- Terrence Cole: Professor and Historian from the University of Alaska. He appears to describe the impact of oil discoveries and the construction of the Dalton and the pipeline.
Route and destinations
- Fairbanks, Alaska: Home of Carlile Transportation’s Fairbanks terminal, the main trucking company featured in Seasons 3 and 4, and one of several featured in Seasons 5 and 6.
- Coldfoot, Alaska: Home of the only rest stop on the Dalton Highway, serving as a stopping point for truckers when bad weather closes the road and the only services on the Dalton between Fairbanks and Deadhorse.
- Deadhorse, Alaska: Home of Carlile's Prudhoe Bay terminal and the northern terminus of the Dalton Highway. Ice roads extend from here over the Arctic Ocean and adjoining rivers, allowing truckers to reach the offshore oil rigs in Prudhoe Bay as well as other communities to the west.
Final load counts
- Jessee — 20
- Spears — 15
- Kelly — 15
- Rowland — 13
- Debogorski — 12
- Freeman — 11
Season 4 of Ice Road Truckers premiered on June 6, 2010.
Debogorski, Rowland, Jessee, Hall, and Kelly continue driving the Dalton Highway for Carlile this season. Debogorski had a good season, stopping to help drivers in trouble on multiple occasions. Rowland spent the season trying to avoid the Department of Transport (DOT) Weigh station. Jessee was assigned some of the toughest loads, to be taken over some of the roughest roads. Kelly started out the season with goals to achieve: she wanted to try hauling heavier, bigger loads and have a go at push-truck driving; she also aimed to save enough money to buy back her horse. Both goals she eventually achieved.
- Greg Boadwine: At 27, Boadwine is starting his second season with Carlile, after his first one ended early due to his overturning his truck. He is grateful that his employers have given him another chance; at the same time, he feels he has a long way to go in order to regain their full trust.
- Ray Veilleux: Veilleux, 44, ran his own construction business in Kalispell, Montana until it failed as a result of the U.S. housing industry crash. He signed on with Carlile and has worked his way up from freight yard duty to making ice road runs.
- Merv Gilbertson: Gilbertson is a second-generation haul road trucker, running Big State Logistics based out of Fairbanks. Except for one Carlile delivery by Jessee late in the season, Gilbertson and his convoys make all the supply runs to Bettles shown this season.
Route and destinations
Dalton Highway: The truckers make stops at Fairbanks, Coldfoot, Deadhorse and the oilfields of Prudhoe Bay as in Season 3, as well as the following new destinations:
- Bettles, Alaska: Located near the center of Alaska along the remains of the Hickel Highway, this small town is accessible from the Dalton only by driving over frozen swampland.
- Nuiqsut, Alaska: Located west of Deadhorse, Nuiqsut is accessible by an ice road connecting it to the Dalton Highway during the winter.
Some heavy haul loads bound for Prudhoe Bay originated in Anchorage and reached Fairbanks via the Glenn Highway and George Parks Highway before going on the Dalton.
Final load counts
- Veilleux – 19
- Rowland – 18
- Jessee – 17
- Kelly – 17
- Debogorski – 16
- Boadwine – 11
The focus of this season is split between two locations. One group drives the Dalton Highway, moving freight between Fairbanks and Deadhorse with occasional side trips to Nuiqsut and Anchorage. Meanwhile, a second group transports loads between Winnipeg, Manitoba, and several remote communities over winter and ice roads.
The on-screen graphics for the type and weight of each load hauled featured in the first four seasons were discontinued in Season 5, now only showing the time of day or temperature depending on the situation.
Debogorski and Rowland return to Canada, and Yemm (seasons 1 and 2) joins them for this season to drive the ice roads in Manitoba, Debogorski for First Nations Transport, and Rowland and Yemm for Polar Industries (also hauling loads for First Nations for the first eight episodes under a contract through Polar). For Carlile, Kelly and three other truckers haul freight on the Dalton, and Hall appears in two episodes to deliver heavy loads. Kromm returns to train rookie drivers, notably Redmon and Sieber, and later advises Lane Keator to fire Redmon.
- Dave Redmon: Redmon, 45, is an Alabama native with 25 years of over-the-road trucking experience. In 2010, he, Yemm, and Kelly spent two months hauling loads on the dangerous roads in India (see IRT: Deadliest Roads, below). This season marks his first year of ice road trucking, but he is ultimately fired due to concerns about his driving performance and attitude toward other truckers (especially Tony Molesky, who abandoned Redmon at Coldfoot halfway through his first training run on the Dalton).
- Tony Molesky: Molesky is a 19-year veteran of the ice roads, and like Kromm, serves as a safety and driver instructor for Carlile. In the season premiere, he describes a recent accident in which he had to swerve into a ditch to avoid a head-on collision with an oncoming rookie driver. His truck took a glancing blow, scattering debris which he later returns to pick up; by the season's end, the truck is repaired and put back in service. (He was also seen briefly in Season 3 episode 3 as Rowland's co-driver.)
- Maya Sieber: Sieber is a 27-year-old resident of New York City, with three years' trucking experience on its roads. Like Redmon, this is her first year on the ice.
- Vlad Pleskot: Pleskot is one of Polar’s drivers. In Season 7, he and Rowland formed their own company.
- Mark Kohaykewych: Mark owns Polar Industries, and drives a pilot car for an oversized load convoy Pleskot, Rowland and Yemm make to St. Theresa Point (episodes 4 and 5). Even though Mark is rarely seen at the wheel of a big rig, he is seen in the opening credits as one of the series’ stars by Season 7.
Route and destinations
- Dalton Highway: Truckers make stops at Fairbanks, Coldfoot, and Deadhorse as before. Kelly and Molesky begin a heavy haul from Anchorage via the Glenn and George Parks Highways before reaching the Dalton (episodes 6 and 7).
- Manitoba/Ontario ice roads: Truckers haul freight on the ice roads to re-supply isolated communities that have no other economical way to bring in materials. Communities serviced by the truckers during Season 5 include Oxford House, Red Sucker Lake, Bloodvein, Little Grand Rapids, St. Theresa Point, Garden Hill, Tadoule Lake and Lac Brochet and Victoria Beach in Manitoba, and Muskrat Dam in northwestern Ontario.
Final load counts
- Debogorski – 22
- Rowland – 21
- Yemm – 20
- Kelly – 28
- Redmon – 27
- Molesky – 25
- Sieber – 22
The focus of this season is split among three locations, listed in "Route and destinations" below.
Debogorski, Rowland, and Yemm continue driving in Canada for this season, moving cargo along the Dempster Highway (Debogorski) and Manitoba's winter roads (Rowland and Yemm). Jessee (seasons 3 and 4) returns to drive the Dalton along with three newcomers, and Hall appears in one episode to help move a modular building up from Fairbanks. Near the end of the season, Veilleux (season 4) is called in to help transport the last loads up to Prudhoe Bay. Molesky and Kromm are involved in training drivers new to driving on the Dalton Highway for Carlile Transportation. Additionally, both Molesky and Kromm independently monitor other drivers' standards and behavior, and advise Fairbanks Terminal Manager Lane Keator if there are issues like those that led to Redmon and "Porkchop" being fired.
- Darrell Ward (1964–2016): Coming to Alaska from Montana, Ward has 31 years of highway trucking experience, including driving logging trucks in the Rocky Mountains, and drove the Dalton for Alaska West Express in 2009. This is his first (and only) year at Carlile, and he ends up coming second to Jack Jessee by one load. Darrell, easily one of IRT's most popular drivers ever, was killed in a plane crash at the age of 52 on August 28, 2016. Ward at the time was a business partner with Lisa Kelly. The plane was piloted by Mark Melotz and it crashed near Rock Creek, Montana.
- Austin Wheeler: Wheeler, 23, has been a Carlile employee for almost two years, transporting heavy loads in southern Alaska before transferring to the Fairbanks depot. While his season ended early towards the end due to engine power issues, he earned credit in saving Darrell when the latter was stranded in the middle of the season.
- Ronald "Porkchop" Mangum: Mangum, 35, is a South Carolina trucker with 14 years of experience. Like Ward, he started his first season on the Dalton; he is fired near the end of the season due to concerns over his driving performance.
Route and destinations
- Dalton Highway: This is the final season for the Dalton on the show.
- Dempster Highway: Connects the Northwest Territories to the rest of Canada’s road network through the Yukon.
- Manitoba ice roads
Final load counts
- Jessee – 29
- Ward – 28
- Wheeler – 23
- Veilleux – 5 (not in the full season)
- Debogorski – 25
- Rowland – 14
- Yemm – 6
The focus of this season is the winter road network originating in Winnipeg.
Debogorski, Kelly, and Ward relocate to Winnipeg this season and begin driving for Polar Industries. Rowland and Pleskot return as well, leaving Polar to start their own trucking company, VP Express.
- Art Burke: Burke, a Yellowknife resident, has driven the diamond mine ice roads for 15 years. He originally signs on with VP Express to drive for Rowland but switches over to Polar, after being fired. He also brings the winning load for Polar by the end of the season.
- Todd Dewey: Dewey, a logging trucker from Washington state, started his first year on the ice road to work for Rowland. He is also featured in Ax Men season 8, especially driving logs for Rygaard Logging into the saw mill during the warmer months. Dewey is the nephew of Craig Rygaard and cousin of Gabe, Jason, and Burt. Craig is the original owner of Rygaard Logging, and when he retired, Gabe took over.
- Joey Barnes: Barnes, known as the "King of Obsolete", and his daughter Xena live in northern Manitoba, well past the end of the winter roads. He uses vintage trucks and modified tractors to travel over the rough terrain for equipment delivery/pickup runs.
Final load counts
- Polar – 181
- VP – 180
This season all drivers from season 7 return to Winnipeg, and the same companies, Polar and VP Express, are shown. This is also the first season in which the program is a US / Canadian co-production, with Prospero Media and Shaw Media (owners of the Canadian History franchise) producing the show with Original Productions and History (as seen in the end credits of each episode). Season 8 premiered on July 7, 2014.
Darrell Ward, Art Burke, and Lisa Kelly drive for Polar. Todd Dewey switches from VP Express to Polar. Alex Debogorski drives for longtime rival Hugh Rowland’s and Vlad Pleskot’s VP Express. After a tense verbal exchange with Polar owner Mark Kohaykewych, Darrell quits Polar in episode 5, frustrated with repeated truck breakdowns and how few loads he has been given, and goes into business for himself. Joey Barnes appears in episode 10 to escort Burke on a delivery run through the Manitoba wilderness, after Burke avoided being fired after jack-knifing his truck the previous trip. Also in episode 5, Burke was fined $490 and "shut down" (suspended from driving) for three days, due to multiple log-book infringements and over-working, from being stuck in the snowstorm on the previous round trip. In episode 12, Kelly, Burke, Dewey, Darrell and Reno all make it to Fort Severn, while Kelly decides to support Darrell and help him go further into Peawanuck. Kelly was not censured by Mark for her actions, as it was "a morally and ethically right thing to do," and she was offered a job by Darrell for the next season; she was undecided on switching sides.
This was Hugh Rowland's final season, as he was involved in a 2014 pickup accident.
- Reno Ward: Darrell Ward’s son, he was hired to help his father in episode 9.
Route and destinations
- Manitoba/Ontario ice roads: Two new destinations in northwestern Ontario: Fort Severn and Peawanuck.
Final load counts
- Polar: 171
- VP: 170
- Total: 341
On July 21, 2015, History announced season 9 would premiere August 2, 2015, at 9/8c.
With the departure of Rowland and VP Express from the series due to a 2014 pickup accident which severely injured him while riding with one of the series’ producers, the "dash for the cash" theme is less emphasized from this season on. As a result, load counts are no longer shown, and the focus shifts to delivering loads to communities as shortening ice road seasons permit, as the season’s two-part finale demonstrates.
This season features all the truckers from the prior season with the exceptions of Hugh Rowland, Vlad Pleskot and Reno Ward. Debogorski, Dewey and Burke drive for Polar, while Darrell Ward and Kelly drive for their own company. Barnes appears in episode 8 to help Burke haul a load of fuel.
- Mike Simmons: Mike is the owner of Bad Apple Escorts, Inc., a pilot truck service based in Edmonton, Alberta. Although he is an experienced heavy hauler on the Alberta oil fields, this season marks his first exposure to ice road trucking. He is hired by Polar to help keep loads moving, in response to the threat of competition posed by Ward and Kelly.
Route and destinations
- Manitoba/Ontario ice roads
- Seal River, via cat train convoy from Churchill: Darrell and Mark teamed up to send their best drivers (Dewey and Kelly) to make this haul over the southwest part of Hudson Bay.
Season X (10)
Per the History Channel website, Season 10 (which the site calls Season X or "IRT X") premiered on August 4, 2016 at 10/9c.
Debogorski, Darrell Ward, Kelly, Dewey and Burke continue driving for their respective companies. Mark Kohaykewych briefly drives Darrell’s truck, as well as a heavy loader to push trucks over steep hills during the two-part season finale convoy.
This was Darrell Ward's final season, as he was killed in a plane crash on August 28, 2016.
- Stephanie "Steph" Custance: Steph, 22, is a first-year ice road trucker with less than one year of commercial driving experience. Mark hires her to work for Polar, deciding that his need for drivers outweighs the problems he sees during her road test. She has a five-year-old son.
Route and destinations
- Manitoba/Ontario/Alberta ice roads: In addition to previously seen destinations in Manitoba and Ontario, two new destinations were added in Season 10: Fort Chipewyan, Alberta and Summer Beaver, Ontario.
Season 11 premiered August 24, 2017 on History.
Debogorski, Dewey, Burke and Custance continue driving for Polar, and Kelly continues to run the company she and Darrell Ward founded. Darrell's son Reno Ward (Season 8) joins the cast in episode 5, helping Kelly repay a debt to Polar owner Mark Kohaykewych. Mark also drives a pilot car for an oversized load hauled by Kelly and Reno (episodes 5 and 6).
Route and destinations
- Manitoba/Ontario ice roads: One new destination added in Season 11: Kasabonika, Ontario.
IRT: Deadliest Roads
|Narrated by||Thom Beers|
Tom Cotcher (UK)
|Country of origin||Canada|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||23 (list of episodes)|
|Production location(s)||India and South America|
|Running time||45 – 48 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Original Productions|
|Original release||October 3, 2010 –|
December 18, 2011
Season 1: Himalayas
On October 3, 2010, a spinoff series, titled IRT: Deadliest Roads, premiered immediately after the Season 4 finale. Rick Yemm, Alex Debogorski, and Lisa Kelly traveled to India and put their driving skills to the test on the narrow, treacherous mountain roads that lead from Delhi to Shimla, then up to the Karchan and Kuppa hydroelectric dam construction sites in the Himalayas. Debogorski quit in the first episode due to fear of angry mobs if he were involved in an accident, and was replaced by Alabama trucker Dave Redmon (who has since been featured in Season 5 of Ice Road Truckers). As the season continued, the drivers were dispatched to carry supplies over the stormy Rohtang Pass to the town of Keylong, which had been cut off for months due to the bad weather. The season finale aired on December 5, 2010, with the truckers' attempting to deliver loads of jet fuel for helicopter crews who were working to rescue people stranded in the mountains by the storms. Yemm and Redmon turned back, deciding that the conditions were too hazardous for the volatile cargo; the next day, Kelly hauled the entire shipment herself and delivered it to the crews, becoming the only North American trucker to complete the entire season.
The roads were often hacked out of vertical cliffs like a tunnel with one side open to the air, with rock overhangs overhead and drops of several hundred feet below. One part of the road was called "the Freefall Freeway".
- In Episode 5: "Crumbling Roads", Kelly and Yemm delivered two images (one each, well-packed with sandbags, sand and straw) of the goddess Kali (shown as treading on her husband Shiva) along a frightful mountain road hacked out of cliffsides to a temple at a town called Kalpa, Himachal Pradesh.
- In Episode 6: "Thin Air", they struggled with a worse road and altitude hypoxia on the Rohtang Pass, and one of them delivered an image of Buddha and some Buddhist scriptures to a Tibetan-type Buddhist monastery in the mountains.
Early promotional spots for the series listed the title as IRT: Himalayas.
Season 2: South America
The second season of IRT: Deadliest Roads premiered on September 25, 2011. Six North American drivers are sent to Bolivia to haul cargo along the Yungas Road, notorious for its extreme hazards. The drivers work in pairs – Hugh Rowland and Rick Yemm, Lisa Kelly and Dave Redmon, and newcomers Timothy R. Zickuhr and Augustin "Tino" Rodriguez. Redmon and Yemm quit in Episode 2; Rowland continues driving alone, while Texas trucker G.W. Boles arrives to ride with Kelly in Episode 4. Starting with Episode 8, the truckers relocate to Peru and begin transporting loads to sites high in the Andes mountain range.
In episode 6, Kelly and Boles transport 32 breeding llamas across the Salar de Uyuni, the world's biggest salt flat, 12,000 ft (3,700 m) above sea level. On the way, their truck's radiator begins to leak; after they mend it, they must empty all their drinking water into the radiator to replace the loss. Abundant lithium deposits cause their magnetic compasses to read incorrectly, and for a time their GPS malfunctions.
In February 2015, Tim Zickuhr pleaded guilty to kidnapping and extortion.
Repeats of the Deadliest Roads series are currently airing on the digital broadcast network Quest.
In 2008, 20th Century Fox acquired rights from the History Channel to create a scripted, theatrical action film based on the series.
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- Official website, History Channel UK
- Official website, History Channel Canada
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