About a week ago the State of Alaska triggered some avalanches on Atigun Pass and then cleared a path through for the trucks. The first video is a short one taken right after the loader and blower were done and the second one is longer and that’s when Jack was heading back the other direction, toward Prudhoe Bay. Thanks to the State for being proactive in keeping our truckers safe!
This is what it looks like when caribou cross your path on the Dalton Highway (click on the first one and scroll to the right to see them full size):
And here are three moose next to the Welcome to Fairbanks sign on the Parks Highway, taken the day after the caribou but there was no snow in Fairbanks at that time (10 days ago). Jack says this is a bull and his harem. You can barely see the one on the other side of the bushes but Jack says he’s a young bull trying to build a harem. The moose on the right looks to me like a young moose, possibly a calf of the cow. All-about-moose.com says about this topic: “The taiga moose calf will stay within visible proximity whereas with tundra moose calves they will generally avoid the harems the bulls collect. Bulls will tolerate yearlings but for the most part calves avoid the harem group.” We didn’t even know there was a difference between taiga and tundra moose.
Two truckers were caught in an avalanche Monday night on the Dalton. Jack was not involved and neither of the drivers were seriously hurt. The road is now closed and the State is working on trying to trigger avalanches before they reopen. We’ve had tons of snow, seems like a record breaking year for snow actually, but for some reason no one made the decision to deal with this before it got to this point.
Photo credit: Jonothan James Kasak via the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner website
“One of the trucks that was stuck was a tanker carrying methanol; the other one carried glycol. When the highway reopens, the state Department of Environmental Conservation will evaluate whether there were any spills. The other two trucks were able to proceed with minimal assistance from a Department of Transportation crew, Bailey said.
Atigun Pass is one of a handful of mountain passes where work crews frequently fire Howitzer artillery at snowcovered slopes to trigger avalanches in order to prevent unplanned slides. Avalanche gates were installed on the south side of the pass three years ago to stop vehicles headed into avalanche danger. This was the first time the gate has been used.”
Well at least the top corner of it did on January 7th. It appears that snow fell on a majority of states in the continental US in January. These images are from the NASA Earth Observatory website – the one of the southwest was taken quite recently, January 28th.
Another set of photos from years past… this guy was coming over a small rise and when he got to the top he saw some hunters in a pick up truck turning around in the road, so he was forced to go off the side and into the snow instead of hit them. Unfortunate.
This was Jack’s first heavy haul load. He wasn’t actually part of the a heavy haul division yet but obviously it was a landmark load for him.
You can see the partially melted snow and the dry road. We are almost to that point in the year right now, and you can probably believe that it is an exciting time for us Alaskans who have snow 8 or 9 months of the year!
The hill that drivers call “Koyukuk” is right next to the Koyukuk River and it’s one of the steepest on the Dalton. It’s about 30 miles south of Coldfoot. The video was taken last winter.
Jack happened to be there to document this huge mod being pushed up the hill by push trucks and also being steered from the back because it’s so long. If you look close you can see someone standing outside on the load as it goes up the hill – he’s steering the rear end as it goes around the curves. The guy doing the steering is one of the former owners of Carlile and he comes up the Dalton for these types of loads that need some special care. (Carlile was sold to Saltchuk Corporation a while ago.)
In case you are wondering, the truck is going pretty slow, about 5 miles an hour in 3rd gear. The last thing you ever want to do, Jack says, is change gears when you’re going that slow with that much weight since you’ll stop before you get it into a different gear. If you stop it’ll take a while to get going again and without the momentum you’re putting a lot of strain on the truck and there’s too much potential for breaking something. The years Jack spent in heavy haul were great years he says, but he doesn’t miss it.
Here is a quick video from when Jack went through the cleared lane that the State of Alaska loader made after the avalanche on Atigun Pass. Don’t forget you can change the settings in the lower right hand corner if the video looks grainy.