Drivers face dangers on road over frozen lakes and featureless tundra to reach the remote Gahcho Kué mining camp
With a voice like warm, liquid chocolate Denise Clarke welcomes drivers to the Gahcho Kué diamond mine after a long, tedious and sometimes dangerous drive across frozen wastes to reach the remote mining camp in Canada’s Northwest Territories.
Her voice is a beacon for hundreds of drivers traversing the road made a legend by the television show Ice Road Truckers, a series dismissed as overly dramatic by the mine’s staff and drivers. But there are real challenges and dangers on the road carved out 40m wide over frozen lakes and nearly featureless snow-smothered tundra.
“It’s not that dangerous at all if you mind your p’s and q’s,” says Kyle Cannon, who looks younger than his 32 years, at the end of a long haul to bring diesel to Gahcho Kue from Yellowknife 280km to the southwest. “There are lots of twists and turns and hills to climb, but you get bored,” he says, standing next to his idling truck with two large begrimed diesel tankers.
Mine employees grapple to unload diesel turned to the consistency of syrup in the extreme cold made worse by a gusting wind.
“You’ve got to be able to meditate. You have to be sound in your head because you can lose yourself up here pretty quick. A lot of guys go home early because they can’t handle being up here. There’s a lot of isolation,” he says.
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