With the current stormy weather and wintry showers hitting the country today and the general disruption caused to motorists, we decided to take a look at some of the world’s coldest roads. It will give you a new opinion on Irish roads in winter.
1.The McMurdo – South Pole Highway (Antarctica)
The McMurdo is situated in Antarctica and is an obvious contender for the coldest roads in the world. When they call it a Highway they mean it, stretching 995 miles and made from snow, yes snow itself, which has been levelled and smoothed into the road surface. Where we have road markings painted on the road, they have flags stretching the entire length of this road. However, it won’t be a road many of us will travel as it is generally used by scientists and the military only. Construction of the road was finished in 2005/2006.
2. Kolyma Highway (Russia)
Our second coldest road in the world is located in the far east of Russia between Yakutia and Magadan Oblast (even the names sound cold!) Not far from this road is a town called Oymyakon which is believed to be the coldest inhabited place on earth with temperatures plummeting as low as -50 degrees Celsius. The Russians claim this particular road to be the coldest of the coldest roads in the world. As if the cold wouldn’t put you off, it is locally known as the ‘Road of Bones’ and was constructed between 1932 and 1953 during Stalin’s reign of the USSR. And the reason for the name is that the foundations of the road contain the bones of the men who died while building it, scary. It is also known as the Road of Bones – the name doesn’t exactly inspire you to make the trip! Built between 1932 and 1953 in Stalin’s USSR, the foundations of the road are filled with the bones of the men who died building it. The road itself is made of gravel, but during winter the road turns to ice, from around late October to early April.
3.Dalton Highway (Alaska, USA)
Number three in the coldest roads of the world is the Dalton Highway, a 414 mile long road that runs from Livengood to Deadhorse through central and northern Alaskan hills and forests. Crossing the Yukon River and the Arctic Circle, and ending nearly at the Arctic Ocean. This is one road that is not for the faint hearted. Built back in 1974 specifically as a supply route for the Trans-Atlantic oil pipeline and named after the engineer James W. Dalton who was heavily involved in early oil explorations in the area. The road became a public highway in 1981. With the popular T.V show ‘Ice Road Truckers’ you will probably get the closest glimpse of this treacherous highway you could want (from the comfort of your sofa!) Not only is this road one of the coldest in the world it also has the least amount of services on any road in North America.
4. Arjeplog (Sweden)
Despite this being a list of the coldest roads in the world, this road is a bit of a wildcard as it isn’t a permanent road. During the winter car manufacturers invade the small town of Arjeplog for winter testing on the newest models available. This beautifully scenic area is home to over 8,000 lakes that all freeze thanks to the -20 degree chills. And it is on some of these lakes that the manufacturers create test tracks. The town is completely swarmed by testers and the population almost doubles and is a great benefit to the local economy With a shortage of hotels, locals rent out rooms in their homes to the crazy car testers.
5. Cairnwell Pass (Scotland)
The highest road in the UK comes in as number 5 in our coldest roads in the world. At 2199 feet and connecting Glen Shee to Braemar, this is a frequently travelled road by avid skiers on their way to the Glen Shee Ski centre which is located at the summit. Originally built as a drover road for farmers bringing cattle to the marts it evolved in 1750 as a military road. There is a section on this road famously known as the Devil’s Elbow, a steep double hairpin bend that can be quite tricky to manoeuvre in icy conditions. Recently the road was upgraded and it bypasses the Devil’e Elbow making the whole experience that tiny bit safer. Prone to frequent snowy conditions during the winter months this road is closed sometimes due to un-passable conditions and does not transform into an Ice road as British vehicles are not equipped for the conditions experience on some of the other coldest roads in the world.