Bigger Hammer

Get A Bigger Hammer and Hit It Harder

Words / Eric Eldred

Photos / Adam Eldred, Cody Liska, Dillon Vought


I’m a roughneck. I work hard and play real hard. Two weeks of twelve-hour days (minimum) battling Alaska’s harsh Arctic environment, where the sun don’t shine for months and temperatures often plummet to seventy below. In the summertime you drench yourself in Deet and embrace the burn as you sweat from every pore, a feeble attempt to persuade the skeeters to find something else to drain blood from.


Working on the Slope can be tough, mentally and physically. Sure, the money is good. It’s a job where a fellow like myself, with nothing but a high school diploma, a good attitude, and a strong work ethic, can earn upwards of six figures a year. Which, in turn, allows me to afford the latest and greatest toys. Trucks, limos, Sno-Gos, four-wheelers, anything that gets me to where I want to be much quicker and more fun than walking. I believe every toy that I buy should help me to be rich in the slopes. Which is why I try to surround myself with the incredible mountains and as many radical people that this great state has to offer.

It's a weird deal. You force yourself to leave your family and friends every 2 weeks. It can be unnerving. While we’re at work, everyone is in the same boat. We work together and we eat together for weeks at a time. I think through this we subconsciously develop strong relationships and our friends on the rig turn into a kind of second family. It’s hard not to when you’re surrounded by some of the most well-traveled and intelligent people you have ever encountered. I have had the opportunity to learn many things about the world we live in from these people’s firsthand experiences. In my mind, no book or TV show can beat that.


The most important thing I’ve taken away from the Slope is the safety culture. It gives you a keen sense of leadership, respect, and instills the unequivocal benefits of communication. Self-accountability is huge in our workplace. When you learn to be upfront with the mistakes you make, learn from them, and share that knowledge with others, you and the people around you grow stronger on the job and off.


The oil drilling industry is an exciting place to work. The rigs are massive machines that are very technologically advanced and continuously being improved. As a roughneck you can discover the magic of mechanics, the energy of electricity, and see the power of pressure. And most importantly, the perseverance of people.