Old Crow winter road challenges truckers

Truckers using the winter road into Old Crow, Yukon, say the road is extremely difficult to drive.
The first haul on the Old Crow winter road took much longer than planned. (Dan Russell)

The Old Crow winter haul road in northern Yukon proved to be a challenge for the trucks and their drivers in the first convoy to make the trip.

The temporary 260 kilometre road is built of snow and ice. Trucks are hauling in building materials, vehicles and other goods.

The only other way to move freight into the remote community is by air.

The first convoy departed Eagle Plains, Yukon, on the Dempster Highway Thursday morning. It was expected to arrive in Old Crow later that night, but didn't arrive until Saturday 45 hours later. 

Clinton Teichroeb with Sidhu Trucking says there were many delays.

Clinton Teichroeb with Sidhu Trucking says the first trip on the winter haul road into Old Crow was a feat of endurance for the truckers. (Clinton Teichroeb)

"They all got stuck. There were some problem spots where every single truck needed assistance and there were other problem spots where only two or three trucks needed assistance. There was lots of checking the loads, re-strapping the loads. From what the drivers were saying it was quite fortunate that none of the loads were lost but they were definitely shifting around on the decks," Teichroeb said.

Randy Shewen works for  the Vuntut Gwitchin Government as project director for the winter road.

“The snow just can't sustain 12 full trucks with chains on and we'll adjust the schedule of the convoys as well as the number of trucks in the convoy to try and maintain the road,” Shewan says.

The next convoy into Old Crow will be four trucks instead of 12.

Shewan hopes more trips with fewer trucks will be easier on the winter road. He says the haul may also last a few days longer than the originally planned three weeks.

Teichroeb says it was a feat of endurance.

"Drivers showed incredible character. Each one of them had been warned at the departure that the roads were rougher than everyone had hoped. By all accounts everyone cooperated, everyone worked together as a team and with the cat assistance and with the drivers patience they got to Old Crow in surprising good cheer," Teichroeb says.

"They were all worse for wear but all the drivers still remain committed to finishing the project."