I’ve spent my first 3 years trucking, going through mountains in the eastern US and Canada. Difficult at first but easier over time.
Recently, I changed companies and have had my first experiences with the mountains out west.
In my mind and based on what others told me, I thought they were going to be the worst things ever.
Here’s what I found out:
Although not to be taken lightly, if you prepare properly, they don’t have to be difficult. And a special thanks to Radek for being available for some last minute advice before I started my first descent.
There are many places along the routes in both BC and Colorado that allow you to stop and check you brakes and/or put chains on. These are good places to give the truck a rest. In my 2 experiences so far, I had heavy loads, so these came in handy.
My one funny story is I was having a difficult time on one descent. The engine kept giving me warnings that it was going to fast, I kept pressing the brakes. The engine brakes and lower gears were just not quite enough to stop the truck from getting too much momentum.
I pulled over and stopped. It was a scenic overlook. I took many selfies. It was a nice break.
After about 30 minutes, the brakes had cooled. I jumped back in the truck to continue this descent.
What I didn’t know is that 300 metres past the overlook, the road leveled out. I guess I didn’t really need to stop. Oh well, better safe than sorry.
As for chains. My personal theory is that if I need to put them on, I probably shouldn’t be driving. Firstly, because the roads would be dangerous and secondly, you’ll probably only be going only 20kmh anyway.