Donegal men Denis Ferry, Les O’Donnell and Paul Doherty have completed their incredible 1,000 mile drive through Alaska, driving the Dalton highway and arriving at the frozen arctic ocean some 350 miles north of the arctic circle .
Writing for the Donegal Democrat the intrepid trio say they are delighted to have successfully travelled from the most northerly point of Ireland to the most northerly point of America.
Here they trace their route to the arctic ocean:
“On Saturday morning we got up at 6am to prepare the jeep for the long journey, we had planned to have it prepared from the day before however with the bags arriving so late we were unable to. After a few hours getting prepared we set off to meet Jon Norton, of Carlile Transport which is the Ice Road Truckers is based on, where he gave us a run down on the Dalton Highway and on CB radio etiquette and we would like to take this opportunity to thank him.
“After leaving Carlile transport we headed off on the long journey ahead… We initially had an 83 mile drive on the Elliot Highway to the beginning of the Dalton which we could only describe as ‘a real handy road’ in comparison to what we were about to face! As we began driving the Dalton Highway we noticed it clear from snow at the beginning but still very rough gravel which is caused by the wheel chains of the trucks digging into the road, this soon changed and we had a mixture of snow and ice to contend with.
“The road itself has some very dangerous hills/corners/cliffs along the way but the real danger lays in meeting oncoming Trucks; Before reaching any corner of hill you MUST radio ahead and let the other drivers know we are on the road and vice versa. This took us a while to get used to but the Truckers here are like a big family and all look out for each other and people like us who are known as ‘4 Wheelers’.
“Driving on up the road we came on the Yukon River which was covered in a 4ft Ice sheet which allowed us to drive over without any major problems thTere was a bridge there too but we thought it would be better craic to take the old road! On doing this Paul walked up onto the bridge to Photograph and Video the jeep and while he was up there he was immediately surrounded by Dalton Highway Security and was almost arrested for walking on the bridge but Paul said straight after “I would do it again, that was some picture!”. Overall driving across the Yukon River was an unbelievable experience!
“Further up the road after a few ‘hairy’ moments we arrived at Coldfoot where we would be staying the night. This was far from the quality hotels we have in Donegal but it did the job for a nights rest and a bite to eat.
“Up early on Sunday morning we refuel, leave Coldfoot and drive to a small town called ‘Wiseman’, which Denis thinks was named after him! After this we drove on, meeting some very interesting characters along the way, driving by some wonderful scenery.
“The next big challenge is known as Chandalars Shelf along Mt Snowden which is 5700ft above sea level, this extremely dangerous part of the journey was drove by Leslie who kept his nerve and keep cool throughout. After this we had another big challenge, possibly the biggest challenge of the entire road, was the Atigun Pass - the highest point the road crosses 4800ft and it was basically like driving up and over a mountain. This task took Denis who was driving and Leslie, on the CB, full attention as the constant danger of driving on snow and ice with massive cliffs along the road. Needless to say we stopped at the highest point and had lunch which not only kept us fed but also nearly froze us!
“From there on we drove along the Tundra. This we can only describe as being like a snow desert, there was literally nothing but flat land covered in +10ft of snow.
“It became very windy and blew the snow off the road and left it with a sheet of pure Ice, stopping on this road was next impossible but the skillful driving of both Denis and Leslie ensured we stayed on the road, most of the time!
“Arriving at Prudoe bay for sunset in -30 temperatures and finally getting phone coverage back is great and thanks to everyone who messaged and gave us well wishes on Facebook. Tonight we will be watching the Northern Lights for and getting a good nights sleep before the long and challenging drive back down the road.”
- An amazing journey, well done to our intrepid trio.