Driving a snowcat

The snow cat: a robust, heavy tank vehicle with windows. It makes a hell of a noise so you can hardly understand each other, and the comfort inside is what you can expect from the comfort in a tank.

But it is designed especially for snow surfaces or soft grounds, it can resist arctic conditions and it is often used as trail groomer in ski or snowmobile areas. The Spitsbergen Travel outdoor company uses them as transportation for excursions. It is the ideal device to get to barren and rough zones. When the snowcats are not out on duty, they serve as a vehicle for a Sunday morning excursion. On our last day in Longyearbyen we had booked a panorama tour with the snowcat. This beefed up beast would bring us to the other side of the fjord and let us enjoy a view on the town of Longyearbyen.

That morning, a slow rumbling noise of chains and gears announced the arrival of our transportation. And there it was: the snowcat …

The snowcat: front view

We set off for the fjord on the other side of Longyearbyen. We left the city and went on for an off-trail exploration of the arctic wilderness with our robust, heavy, unbreakable, unstoppable and robust – or did I already mention that? – snowcat.

The first stop was one of the 3 extremities of the city. The place where the city ends and where the area of wandering polar bears begins:

One of the most photographed northern traffic signs

We weren’t very lucky with the weather during our panorama tour with the robust snowcat (the sky was rather grey and apocalyptic):

After this photo moment, we returned to our snowcat and noticed that there was a small problem with our robust vehicle:

Broken - OopsAs we couldn’t lift the vehicle by ourselves to fix the gear :), our guide called a taxi. We started walking towards the road and left our snowcat alone in the snowy landscape. Although the snowcat experience through the arctic plains was quite fun, we didn’t really regret this defect. As the weather wasn’t very promising, the panorama and the views wouldn’t have been that breathtaking. But we have had the experience … And now we can tick off the snowcat besides the snowmobile and the dogsledding …

Liesbet à Paris on a snowcat

This is one of the last articles (for the moment) of our Spitsbergen journey. I’ll come back later with other blogposts about this particular place on earth …

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