Thursday, February 28, 2008

North on the Ice roads

Well I have done 2 trips on the ice so far, and it is interesting to say the least, before I start on the ice roads info I think I need to give you an understanding of how far north it is to Diavic Diamond mine.

To give all in Oz a point of reference I will use Hobart Tasmania.

Hobart is on the 42 latitude south, The equivalent latitude north passes through Pocetello in Idaho (due south of here) and Chicago on the Great Lakes.

If you were to travel 840klm (road distance) south of Hobart you would be on the 49th latitude, this is the same latitude as the Canada US border.

Another 620 klm south and you are on the 53rd latitude, the same latitude as Edmonton. (Macquarie Island is on the 54th latitude)

Another 1500klm south and you are on the 62nd latitude, the same latitude as Yellowknife.

Another 450 klm south and you are on the 64th latitude this is the same latitude as Diavic Diamond Mine. Approx 250 klm from the Arctic Circle.(Casey research station in the Antarctic is on the 66th latitude)

Or in land drive distances, If you were to drive the distance from Hobart to Townsville, south of Hobart, you will be as far south as Diavic is North.

The distance from Edmonton to Diavic is the same as from Peak Hill (south of Dubbo) to Townsville.

These trucks are actually parked on a small lake, it is only shallow and solid ice so is safe to park on till spring thaw.

A crack in the ice, there are a lot of these but they are not a safety issue

Moon over Lockhart lake as seen from the Lockhart Lake Camp

This is what it looks like from the cab, quite repetitive after a few hours as the loaded travel speed at 25klm/hour on most lakes, but does increase to 30Klm/hour on the more northern lakes. Travel speeds when empty are increased by 10 k /hour, and on designated express lanes for empty trucks 60klm/hour is allowed.

The weather was quite kind for the first trip according to the locals, only down to -37 but not much wind. I spun out (lost traction) on a portage, and had to put the chains on, it is surprising how adrenaline can make you oblivious to the cold, I had 8-12 trucks waiting for me to get mobile so we could all continue, ( no one could pass me where i spun out) in the rush to fit them i removed my gloves to do up the links, and I can tell you chains at -37 degrees and warm hands do not mix, Fortunately the was no moisture and my hands did not freeze to the chain links, and am I appreciative of that.

Though I did have a Dumb and Dumber moment the other day, it was in the -35 to -40 range and I unlocked the truck door with the key, i had a cup of coffee in the other hand, and instinctively put the key into my mouth so I could open the door with my free hand, the key at -35 immediately froze to my tongue and lip, luckily a key is small and the heat of my mouth warmed the key in a few seconds and i was able to free it without loosing any skin.

About the Ice Roads

This is a map of the location if the Ice Roads in the North west Territory, Canada. from Yellowknife to the Diavic mine is about 450 Klm and takes approx 15 hours to travel over the frozen lakes and portages (land outcrops), the longest lake is about 100klm 0f ice to drive over at a speed not exceeding 30 klm/hour, 3 hours non stop.
To leave Yellowknife we travel in groups of 2 to 4 trucks for safety, and we must travel as a convey, to the next checkpoint. Convoy dispatch times are 20 minutes apart. the first 70 Klm is along the Ingram trail, a narrow windy section of formed road, (speed limit 70klm/hour), the leader of the convoy has to call the direction of the convoy (on 2 way VHF radio) the number of trucks and the Klm marker he is passing, this allows others traveling on the road who is on the road, (you hear comments like 4 north at the 25k marker 1st 2 12 wide) if you are traveling

south and are at the 27k marker you know you are about to pass 4 trucks and the first 2 are 12 foot (3.6 meters) wide. Overtaking is not allowed and each unit must space themselves 1 klm apart.
At the end of the Ingram trail the Ice Roads begin, there is a check in point called the Meadows, where the leader of the convoy calls security and reports the number of trucks, our direction(north or south) and the individual road user number of each truck, When all units have arrived and done a series of load and safety checks, clearance to proceed is requested and given if the previous convoy is far enough ahead. The Next check point is Lockhart camp about 150 klm over the lakes, expected time if travel goes well is about 8 hours. The speed limit and distance is decreased the max speed 25 klm at a minimum distance of 500 meters, no overtaking allowed. If someone has to stop for any reason you must call you have stopped and why, all traffic traveling the direction the stopped unit is traveling must stop when you are 500 meters behind the unit ahead. Security is monitoring the radio and come as soon as they here a call to oversee the situation, and get the traffic flowing as soon as possible.
There is no stopping on the ice except in emergencies, non emergency stops if required are allowed on portages with sufficient space to park safely.
Speed onto and off the ice is lowered to 10 klm/hour as the ice can be damaged if hit too fast.

There is a formula to determine the load capacity of the ice is 4 times the thickness squared, so if the ice is 5cm thick (5 X 5 = 25, 4 X 25 = 100) therefore the load carrying capacity is 100 kg, you can see on the chart above the load capacity for the thickness. The load capacity at the moment is 63000kg so the ice must be 125cm thick.

The cold is interesting, it is not as cold as I thought it would be, the locals tell me this is because the humidity is so low, the humidity affects the cold in a similar way like humidity increases the stress of heat, the higher the humidity the colder it feels.
When there is no wind , it is not too hard to keep warm if you wear enough layers, though, the wind is the hard element to take, it just increases the heat loss so much quicker, the charts beside and below allow you to see the difference in how the wind changes how cold it feels.

For more info try this sight A field guide to ice construction safety

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Just some more amazing photos!!

Wanted to show you some more photos of our week away but Clay has over 700 photo so these were just a few in the first 100 or so. The top photo is taken at Meligne Canyon at the beginning or ice walk. The bottom photo is also on the ice walk. We walked on a frozen river at the botton of the canyon. It was just amazing!
This is just a beautiful photo of somekind of bird. It is warming up here so the animals are coming out. This was taken at the top of the gondular in Banff.
Just to show you how big some pf the rockies are. Can you spot the 2 sets of ice climbers?? This is on the road between Banff and Jasper. The side of the mountain is called the weeping wall and it just weeps in summer but as you can see its not weeping now. We were amazed to see these guys climb so far up. Not for me Im afraid.
This is about as brave as I get walking on the ice. you could feel it moving under your feet in some places. Clay went through the ice in a few spots. The scenery was just beyond explaining. No photos can do it justice.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Yes Believe it or not Im back!!!

Hi all, Well finally I have done another entry into the blog. I have been so busy being a tourist guide and entertaining our family that I havent had much time. I have so many photos to show you all but find it hard to pick. Clayton allown took 700 photos while we were in the rockies this week and they havent been uploaded yet.
I hear Oz is green, wet and rather cold for summer, it will be lovely to see all the paddocks green and the grass for the cattle coming into winter.
I decided to put a few "texture" photos in, sort of. the first photo is of the snow on the outside of the window. Even my snowmen and bear were cold. The photo below is of ice crystal on the window. Windows have a double pane to keep the cold out. I thought this looks like winter wonderland.

Snowflakes are hard to picture and are so beautiful so below is an attempt to show different shapes. I would love to do a photo study of snowlakes. Perhaps draw my own snowflake quilt. I thought each flake was a different shape but Clay "burst my snowflake" by telling me this isnt true, so I will have to do my own investigations.
This is a photo Kylie took of a frozen waterfall whilst she was travelling with Phil in the truck. It is hard to imagine that waterfalls freeze but they do. Many of the lakes and waterfalls are frozen at the moment. Clay and I went on a ice walk into a canyon which is just a frozen river. It was just magical but you will have to wait for photos of that when we get them down loaded.

Most of you know that Phil is travelling the ice roads at the moment. He drives up to Yellowknife and then travels on the frozen lakes, several hundred Kilometres north. He will be doing this for about 6 more weeks. Some of you may have heard him speaking on Macca last Sunday morning. It will be interesting to see his photo if the camera hasnt frozen. it is about -30 ish up where he goes which is good as it keeps the lakes frozen.

All but Clay have returned to Oz. He will be leaving on Monday just a couple of hours after Gai arrives. What a fun month we are going to have. I will have to do the tourist guide thing and also convince her that -4 really isnt that cold. So looking forward to that.

Tim, Kate and Elijah have settled back to normal????!!!! Elijah gets excited when he sees the photos as if he remembers being here. I miss them so much, Elijah was so much fun to have and so good. Tim is still teaching and Kate is being a fantastic Mum, not long now till number 2 arrives.

Josh started uni this week and has move to a new house. He is having centrlink hassels but hopefully we can resove that this week. Jane started uni today and is enjoying the warm back home. It was so much fun to have them around, I miss them so much, I just got used to them being here and hoped they would stay longer. So many things we didnt do in the three months they were here.

Kylie has moved to Perth and is still looking for accommadation and a job, but I'm sure she will settle soon. Selwyn is back to work and both of them will attend a wedding in April in New Zealand. Little did I know that when Kylie went to Spain nearly 10 years ago that she will never stop travelling.

Clays contract finished mid January so he has moved from Tassy and planning to go back to Brisbane. He is looking for a animation job and will actually go anywhere for the right Job. Watch out for "Pixel Pinky" later in the year.

I have been finding the "cabin fever" quite difficult, which has made me annoyed because I feel that getting down is a waste of time. The week in the mountains was helpful and hopefully having Gai around will help me "thaw" (sorry that was so bad) out of it. Well until next time, which will be much sooner, Enjoy the warmth and dont forget to smell the roses.

Love Tina