sierra at4 conquers canadian arctic

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SIERRA 1500 AT4 CARBONPRO™ EDITION CONQUERS THE CANADIAN ARCTIC IN THE ALCAN 5000 WINTER RALLY

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It's not unusual for three friends to take a winter road trip to the beach — unless the beach in question is at Tuktoyaktuk, a tiny hamlet on the Arctic Ocean in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

The longtime friends are Portland, Oregon, residents Paul Duchene, Mark Scholz and Jeff Zurschmeide. Their journey to Tuktoyaktuk — one of the most remote settlements in North America — took them about 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

The reason for their trip? They were participating in the Alcan 5000 Winter Rally using a 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 equipped with the available Duramax® 3.0L Turbo-Diesel I-6 engine and CarbonPro™ bed, which offers best-in-class dent, scratch and corrosion resistance.

"What most people don't realize is just how big North America really is," Scholz said. “We left home and drove almost 3,000 miles to get to the top of the world." 

A quadrennial event that was first held in 1984, the Alcan challenges driving teams to make it all the way to the Arctic while competing in short driving events along the way. Over 90 percent of the route is scenic touring, a concept that is evocative of motoring adventures from the past.

"The competition part of the rally is to drive selected roads at a precise average speed," Zurschmeide explained. "We don't compete on speed because it's not a race. It's about showing up right on time. But the real reason we do it is to experience the Arctic in winter, which is something most people will never see."

This unique characteristic has made the Alcan a real bucket-list item for many people since rally teams get to witness some of the most beautiful and unspoiled parts of North America. It's not uncommon to find the road blocked by bison or caribou, and teams keep in close contact to make sure everyone arrives safely. 

"It's the last frontier," Duchene insisted. "Up here, you have to take care of the people around you. We can't afford to look around at the end of the day and wonder where we lost a car."

To make this journey of a lifetime, Duchene, Scholz and Zurschmeide chose a Sierra 1500 AT4 with the available Duramax® 3.0L Turbo-Diesel, which delivers outstanding fuel efficiency without diminishing capability. The Duramax® 3.0L Turbo-Diesel offers up to an EPA-estimated 22 MPG city and 26 MPG highway for the four-wheel drive Sierra 1500 AT4.

"We have to drive hundreds of miles between fuel stops," Zurschmeide explained. "And there's always the possibility that you can get most of the way to your destination and find the road impassable or closed. That's why we really appreciated the fuel economy of the Duramax, along with the capability of the Sierra 1500 AT4. The ice roads are rough, and the extra two inches of clearance from the off-road suspension really made a difference." 

Another feature that helped make the trip possible was the Sierra 1500 AT4's advanced four-wheel drive system. In addition, the Sierra's traction and stability controls function in concert with the four-wheel drive system to deliver confident handling. 

"We had to drive on packed snow, loose gravel, solid ice or snow on top of ice," Scholz said. "So, the Sierra's four-wheel drive really had to work hard for us." 

The team also valued the comfort, infotainment and available advanced safety features of the Sierra AT4, making it an ideal choice for experiencing the rugged landscape and frigid temperatures of the very far north.

"It's nice to have the available heated front seats and a heated steering wheel when it's 40 degrees below zero," Zurschmeide said. "The (available) Head-Up Display helped us keep our attention focused on the road. We also really enjoyed all the (available) camera views that can be accessed through the infotainment system screen. The (available) Rear Camera Mirror was particularly useful in the Arctic because the back windows would get frosted over. We still had a clear view behind us." 

When you're headed where few people dare to go, it's critical to have the right equipment for the job. 

"We decided to get out and see the world," Duchene said. "The experience was unforgettable." 

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