Sixty-Two Below

Posted On January 19, 2012

Filed under Blog Posts

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Last Saturday in Coldfoot the temperature dove somewhere past sixty below, and even the Department of Transportation’s thermometers stopped working at -62 degrees. Promptly, chaos ensued.

A couple rubber fuel hose lines snapped clean in two, necessitating shut off of our fuel supply. Pipes all over camp froze despite the opening of dozens of faucets and portable heaters blasting pipe assemblies running underneath our buildings. Our vans literally froze into the ground—the vehicles we could get started simply couldn’t move, their tires locked into the icy ground.

By the next day, Sunday, it had barely warmed up. While going through their cycle, the pumps that run the boiler in camp had frozen up, dropping our water pressure and heat. When I came into work that morning at 5:30am, the temperature inside the café was down to 43 degrees. The floors, which had been mopped the night before, had frozen over. Half the power was out too, as all the heaters that had been plugged in the night before had blown a fuse.

Lacy admiring the frozen walls of Coldfoot (yes, it gets so cold outside the insides of the walls freeze):

At this temperature, driving the haul road becomes something short of a suicide pact. A truck pulled into camp at night, completely aflame. The rig’s brakes had frozen and locked up, causing the wheels to drag upon the road. An excessive amount of friction caused the rubber tires and axle to catch fire, and soon after the entire trailer ignited and burst into flames.

I watched the Saints vs. 49ers game on television that weekend, and the temperature at the game in San Francisco was 62 degrees at kickoff time. That was at least 124 degrees warmer than Coldfoot. I find it strange reconciling that I live on the same planet as everyone else.

A view of the ice fog that forms when the air gets super cold (like -40 or lower):

Hot exhaust from the generator instantly condenses in the cold (this picture taken around -55):

A few pictures of sunlight– no sun yet as of today– but the signs that it’s coming back soon are everywhere!

January 19th, looking southward, 2:00pm:

And lastly, I hope everyone who’s been following my blog has enjoyed it these last nine months. Believe it or not, but this is my fiftieth post!

2 Responses to “Sixty-Two Below”

  1. Maria

    I was wondering about you and the temp difference-amazing 124 deg difference. Whoa. The question is ‘have you frozen yet?’
    Your pictures are terrific. Have you created a digital album of them? Are you using your camera or phone to take them?
    We have heard about the solar flares the past few days. Info is that the light show north of us should be great. Also, the flares are strong so they could affect gps’s and other objects.

    An early Happy Birthday if I don’t get you on your ‘big day’.

    Hope that trucker who’s tires and brakes and truck burst into flames was ok.

    Mom is doing ok, just needs more help to do everything. Her spirits are decent. I read her your letters.
    Next week, I will take my computer and show her your blogs/pictures.

    Maria & Andy

  2. Stefan Orozco


    Dare I tell you the current temp. in SD???? DARE I???!!!

    … 80…

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