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On Thin Ice: Breakdowns, Whiteouts, and Survival on the World's Deadliest Roads [Hardcover]

Hugh Rowland , Michael Lent
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 8 2010
You've watched him battle the odds on History's Ice Road Truckers. Now read Hugh "The Polar Bear" Roland's own storm-by-storm account of surviving and conquering the infamous ice roads of the Arctic. Join Hugh in the front seat of his truck as he shares his most chilling, adrenaline-fueled tales of the world's most dangerous job.

Every year, a fleet of truckers travels beyond the northern equatorial line to the Arctic Circle, battling subzero temperatures and perilous conditions. Though treacherous, it is a region heavily endowed with natural resources. Locating this abundance of natural gas, conflict-free diamonds, and gold is relatively easy; extracting and transporting these goods is another matter entirely. The elite truckers chosen to deliver materials vital to these efforts spend two months traveling distances greater than Western Europe on naturally formed roads of ice that is only sixteen inches thick.

It is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.

For more than twenty years, Hugh Rowland has survived the ice roads like none other. Each year when the temperature plummets, Rowland leaves his family in Vancouver, Canada, to drive 1,900 miles to Yellowknife, where he will begin his odyssey. Facing the threat of perilous avalanches, hundred-foot cliffs, and the ever-present danger of cracking through the ice, Hugh must push himself to the limit. The payoff is sweet, but Rowland isn't in it just for the money; he is driven by the camaraderie, the call to adventure, and the chance to battle the odds year after year.

From the first snowstorm to the final thaw, On Thin Ice traces the history of ice road trucking, chronicles Rowland's preparation for the trek, and follows him through his perilous journey along the infamous ice roads. Take a ride with Rowland as he recounts tales of epic breakdowns and breathtaking heroism that are just a daily part of the job. In this classic battle of man and machine versus cruelest nature, only the strong will survive to see their payday, their families, and the chance to do it all over again . . . on thin ice.


"You've never experienced winter until you've lived through one in the far north. It starts in October and doesn't let up until mid-April. The temperatures drop to minus 70, with winds blowing 60 miles an hour. At that temperature, you throw a pot of boiling water or coffee into the air and it will instantly vaporize and turn into snow. It's cold as hell, but it's also full of riches: silver, gold, uranium, diamonds, and oil worth tens of billions of dollars. Locating these treasures in the frozen tundra is the easy part. Getting them out of the ground and bringing them from the frozen wasteland to civilization is a lot tougher. That's my job." --From Ice Road Truckers

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On Thin Ice: Breakdowns, Whiteouts, and Survival on the World's Deadliest Roads + King Of The Road
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About the Author

Hugh Rowland is a burly, bearded, swearing man who blows methyl hydrate into his own transmission and welcomes storms as breaks from boredom. A trucker with over 30 years experience, he runs a successful excavation business in British Columbia. He has been married for 25 years to his childhood sweetheart Dianne and has 3 daughters, Karly, Chandra and Candice, and 2 grand children.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 2.5...and that's generous Dec 9 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I like Ice Road Truckers. I realize that the show "manufactures" drama to keep the audience interested and coming back. One of the larger than life characters is Hugh "The polar bear" Rowland. On the show he's full of BS and the book is no different. It's a complete glorification of an individual who has a very large ego. Want a real book about this show, read "King Of The Road" by Alex Debogorski. That's a better read from a better man.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars Aug. 25 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
good story
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings Back Memories - June 11 2010
By Loyd E. Eskildson - Published on Amazon.com
Loved the book - brought back memories of my own much more limited truck-driving experiences with whiteouts, wolves, cold temperatures, Yellowknife NWT, and below-zero temperatures. On the other hand, I've never driven a truck over lake ice, and after reading Rowland's book, have no intention of doing so. I'm CHICKEN! Also haven't done on-road repairs, 18-speeds (only 13), and driving 1,900 miles in a day. (My record is only 900.) On the other hand, I've also been fortunate enough to experience incredible scenery traveling the Alaskan and Dalton highways. Was particularly interesting to learn how they build and maintain ice roads over water. Great reading!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On Thin Ice May 26 2011
By nbgrant - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Purchased for a school library grades 7-12. Strong interest for the boys who drive, or want to drive, trucks. Comfortable reading for anyone, each chapter has exciting problems, writer is an honorable family man, a piece of history which is vanishing due to the climate warming, written after the television show produced and has some notes about the difficult filming process. You feel like you are riding along with the writer over the years he has driven the ice roads.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars General lending libraries will relish this! Oct. 18 2010
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
ON THIN ICE: BREAKDOWNS, WHITEOUTS, AND SURVIVAL ON THE WORLD'S DEADLIEST ROADS tells of the author and his crew, who yearly brave the ice roads of the Arctic Circle with their semi trucks to deliver supplies and equipment to isolated diamond mines located there. Hugh Rowland is the star of Ice Road Truckers, a popular History show: here his book shares his story on how he began his business and how he survived many Arctic mishaps. General lending libraries will relish this!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the TV show! Nov. 4 2010
By Wing Nut - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is excellent. Caution for young folks, there is some rough language. Hugh tells it like it is. BUY THIS BOOK!
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ice Roads Feb. 25 2014
By Linda. Cirina - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
OH WOW!! This book is amazing. An absolutely wonderful informative story about the ice roads in NW Canada and the Ice Road Truckers. I have to admit I did not particularly like Polar Bear on the show, but I now have a new respect and love for him. It takes very special people to do their work in cruel climates. They are real men. Also, an entirely interesting documentary could be made on the building of the ice roads. I have to mention that my primary physicians brother, who is from India, works on the new bridge crossing the MacKenzie River. I live in Maryland on the east coast of the U.S. And I do not believe that the Ice Roads will ever be forgotten. I feel like it is a part of history for the entire world. Thank you Hugh!!!
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